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Ayam Bakar Solo (Solo Grilled Chicken)

Posting Date: 04/12/22

Ayam Bakar Solo (Solo Grilled Chicken)

Ayam Bakar Solo (Solo Grilled Chicken) originated in Solo in Java island in Indonesia. Ayam means chicken and bakar means grilled. The food from Solo tends to be sweet. Thus, this chicken tastes sweet from the palm sugar and sweet soy sauce used. You can make it slightly salty by adding salt. There are many versions of Ayam Bakar in Indonesia because many areas in Indonesia have its own version. The different is the combination of spices used. Regardless of the version, I love each one of them because it is always flavorful and juicy.

For the recipe, I use chicken drumsticks because it was cheaper in my grocery store. However, you can also use other parts of the chicken, such as breast, thigh, or wing. I think the chicken wings will be good to serve when entertaining your friends and watching big sport events on TV. Instead of serving Buffalo Chicken Wings, why not serve Solo Grilled Chicken Wings with celery and carrot on the side?

To make Ayam Bakar, the chicken is first boiled in spices and coconut water. Once the liquid has been reduced, it is taken out from the liquid and grilled in a BBQ grill or a broiler if you don't own a BBQ grill. The grilled chicken is traditionally served without the sauce but I found some of my friends liked to have the sauce drizzled over the rice and the chicken because the sauce tasted so good. The sauce is the remaining liquid used to boil the chicken. Nowadays I always reserve the cooking liquid (sauce) so that people can drizzle it over the chicken and rice if they want. I also use the sauce to brush the chicken during grilling so that it does not become too dry.

Traditionally, Ayam Bakar Solo is served with steamed rice. You can also serve it with Nasi Uduk (Rice Cooked in Coconut Milk), Nasi Kuning (Indonesian Yellow Rice), or Nasi Ketan Kuning Serundeng (Yellow Glutinous Rice with Coconut Topping). I use Nasi Ketan Kuning in the picture because of the color contrast. I serve the chicken with slices of cucumber and tomato and lime wedges. Since I like a little heat, I serve it with sambal oelek on the side. You can use any chili paste you like if you like it hot.

The recipe serves for 3 people.


  • For spice paste: 6 small or 3 large size of shallots, quartered
  • For spice pasteL 5 cloves of garlic, halved
  • For spice paste: 1" of fresh ginger, sliced
  • For spice paste: 1" fresh galangal, sliced. If you cannot find fresh galangal, you can use 1 teaspoon galangal powder. If you cannot find galangal powder, you can use 1" fresh ginger and slice it.
  • For spice paste: 4 candlenuts, roughly chopped. If you cannot find candlenuts, you can substitute with macadamia nuts.
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • For spice paste: 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • For spice paste: 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 lemongrass, white part smashed with the back of the knife and green part discarded
  • 6 pieces of chicken drumsticks. You can also use other parts of chicken such as breast, thigh, and wing instead of drumstick.
  • 600 ml coconut water. You can use water if you cannot find coconut water.
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar. You can substitute palm sugar with brown sugar if you cannot find it.
  • 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Optional: For serving: lime wedges
  • Optional: For serving: slices of cucumber
  • Optional: For serving: slices of tomatoes


  1. Process all the spice paste ingredients (shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, cumin, and black pepper) in the food processor until it becomes paste.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a big pot that can fit the chicken pieces. We don't want the pot too big because it will require more liquid to cover the chicken. However, we don't want it too small because it could overflow from the pot when boiling. Heat the oil over medium high heat. Add spice paste, bay leaves, and lemongrass. Saute spice paste until it becomes aromatic and the yellow color of the spice paste changes from bright yellow to darker yellow. Add the chicken pieces into the pot and stir it around so that the chicken is coated with the paste. Cook the chicken until it turns slightly brown. Add coconut water, palm sugar, sweet soy sauce, and salt into the pot. Stir to mix. Make sure the chicken is fully covered with the liquid. If not, you can add water until the chicken is fully submerged. Please note that you don't want to put too much liquid because otherwise, it would take longer to reduce the liquid. Once the liquid has come to a boil, let it boil for another 10 min before reducing the heat to low. Taste the liquid sauce and add salt if you prefer it to be slightly salty. Cook until the liquid sauce has been reduced to at least half and the chicken is coated with the sauce. To get the chicken coated. you may want to turn the chicken over from time to time during cooking so that all sides can be coated.
  3. While waiting for the liquid to reduce, prepare the BBQ grill by cleaning it with brushes. Once clean, oil the grates and turn it on. If you are using broiler in your oven instead of BBQ grill, turn on your broiler on High and prepare baking sheet by lining it with Al foil for easy clean up. Brush the baking sheet with a little bit oil so that the chicken won't stick.
  4. Once the liquid has been reduced, using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a plate. Using a strainer, strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the solid. Brush the chicken with the liquid sauce and place it on a BBQ grill if using a BBQ grill. If using a broiler, place it on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet inside the oven. Always keep an eye during grilling or broiling so that it doesn't burn. Once the bottom side of chicken turns brown, brush the top side with the liquid sauce and turn the chicken over. Grill until all sides becomes brown. Remove the chicken.
  5. Serve the chicken with rice. If preferred, you can drizzle the liquid sauce over the rice and chicken. Serve it with slices of cucumber, tomato, and lime wedges if preferred.

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