Home > Ayam Bumbu Rujak (BBQ Chicken Cooked in Spicy Coconut Sauce)

Ayam Bumbu Rujak (BBQ Chicken Cooked in Spicy Coconut Sauce)

Posting Date: 09/15/20

Ayam Bumbu Rujak (BBQ Chicken Cooked in Spicy Coconut Sauce)

Ayam Bumbu Rujak (BBQ Chicken Cooked in Spicy Coconut Sauce) originated in Java. The chicken is first cooked in spicy coconut sauce before being grilled. Because of that, the chicken is full of flavor and juicy. The coconut sauce has spice paste that consists of ginger, shallots, garlic, candlenuts, coriander powder, sambal oelek, and palm sugar. So, the sauce tastes spicy, sweet, and salty at the same time. The chicken is really good with rice. I normally serve it with sliced cucumber and tomatoes to add freshness. I also serve it with a dipping sauce made by mixing sambal oelek with sweet soy sauce. If you like the dipping sauce to taste salty, you could use soy sauce rather than sweet soy sauce.

The vegetarian version of Ayam Bumbu Rujak uses tofu and/or tempeh and is called Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak (Tofu and Tempeh in Spicy Coconut Sauce). In the recipe, I use chicken drumsticks since it is cheaper at the grocery stores when they are on sale. However, you can use other parts of the chicken, such as breasts, thighs, or wings. You could also use boneless chicken breasts or thighs.

If you live in an apartment, you may not be allowed to have a BBQ grill. Thus, I have provided instructions on how to grill the chicken in the oven or on the grilling pan. I personally prefer grilling it in the oven or BBQ grill because I have more control on how much char (brown-ness) I can have on the chicken and thus, how crispy the outer skin of the chicken becomes.

The recipe serves 2 people.


  • 4 pieces of chicken drumsticks. You could also use other parts of chicken if preferred. You could also use 2 boneless chicken breasts or thighs.
  • To marinate chicken: 1 lime
  • To marinate chicken: 1 teaspoon salt
  • For spice paste: 6 small or 2 large size shallots, quartered
  • For spice paste: 4 cloves of garlic, halved
  • For spice paste: 1.5 tablespoons sambal oelek. Use more sambal oelek if you have high tolerance to heat. You could use 3 red chili peppers or green chili peppers if you are able to find them in your Asian stores. Do not use Thai chili peppers because it will be too hot.
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon palm sugar. If you cannot find palm sugar in regular grocery or Asian stores, substitute with brown sugar.
  • For spice paste: 4 candlenuts, halved. If you cannot find candlenuts in Asian stores, substitute with macadamia nuts or cashew nuts or you can skip it altogether.
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • For spice paste: 1" fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1" galangal, sliced. If you cannot find galangal, substitute with fresh ginger.
  • 1 lemongrass, white part smashed with the back of knife and green part discarded
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves. If you canot find them in Asian stores, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon lime zest.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • vegetable oil to brush baking sheet, BBQ grates, or grilling pan
  • Optional: For serving as dipping sauce: 1.5 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • Optional: For serving as dipping sauce: 1 teaspoon sweet soy sauce. If you like the dipping sauce to taste salty, use soy sauce rather than sweet soy sauce.
  • Optional: For serving: 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • Optional: For serving: 2 tomatoes, sliced


  1. Place chicken drumsticks in a ziploc bag. Squeeze lime juice into the ziploc bag and sprinkle salt over the chicken. Squeeze the air out of the bag and close it. Move the drumsticks around so that they are coated with the lime juice and salt. Marinate for 30 min in the fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, place spice paste ingredients (shallots, garlic, sambal oelek, palm sugar, candlenuts, coriander powder, and ginger) into a food processor. Pulse until it becomes smooth paste.
  3. Once the drumsticks have been marinated for 30 min, remove the chicken out of the bag. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on a pot over medium high heat. Add spice paste into the pot. Saute until it becomes fragrant. Add the chicken, galangal, lemongrass, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves into the pot. Stir fry the drumsticks so that they are coated with the spice paste. Once the chicken drumsticks have changed color from pink to white, add coconut milk and water into the pot. Make sure the drumsticks are fully submerged in the liquid. If not, add more water into the pot to submerge the chicken. Add salt, sugar, and black pepper into the pot. Cook until the chicken is fully cooked (when thermometer inserted into the thicker part of the chicken shows 165 deg F). Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat.
  4. If using oven to grill the chicken, follow this step. Move the oven's top rack so that it is about 10-15" below the top heater. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Line baking sheet with Al foil for easy clean up. Brush the Al foil evenly with vegetable oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Using tongs, take the drumsticks and place them on baking sheet. Once the oven has reached 350 deg F. Place the baking sheet on the top rack and bake the chicken for 5 min in 1 side. Turn it over and bake it for another 5 min. Baking the chicken prior to broiling will make the outer skin of chicken crispier. Switch the oven to broil on high. Keep an eye during broiling so that you don't burn the chicken. Broil the chicken until the top side becomes golden brown. Turn the chicken over to broil the other side until it becomes golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  5. If using BBQ grill, follow this step. Clean the BBQ grates. Oil the grates to prevent sticking. Turn on the BBQ. Grill the chicken. Turn it over once the bottom side is golden brown and grill the other side. Remove the chicken once it is golden brown.
  6. If using grilling pan, follow this step. Brush the pan with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Heat the pan over medium high heat. Place the chicken on the pan. Once the bottom side of chicken turns golden brown, turn it over and grill the other side until golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Serve the chicken while it is still warm with rice and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers on the side. If preferred, serve it with dipping sauce by mixing sambal oelek with sweet soy sauce.

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