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Kari Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry)

Posting Date: 06/22/18

Kari Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry)

Kari Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry) tastes milder than Japanese or Indian Curry in term of the spice flavor. Indonesian Curry is also not as spicy as Thai Curry. In Indonesia, the meat used in kari (curry) is normally chicken and bone-in chicken is traditionally used. It is served with rice. There is another Indonesian dish that is closer to Indian curry in term of flavor profile and it is called gulai. It can be made with goat, beef, or chicken. It can also be made vegetarian using young jackfruit or cassava leaves.

I use boneless skinless chicken breast in this recipe because it makes it easier to serve to people and faster to make. You can use bone-in chicken instead and any part of the chicken (leg, thigh, wing, and breast) can be used. If you use bone-in chicken, please add enough coconut milk and water to make sure the chicken is submerged during cooking so that it can be fully cooked. If preferred, you can add diced potatoes. To make it vegetarian, use tofu instead of chicken.

Growing up, my mom made this dish very often that I consider it as one of my comfort food. She used bone-in chicken and normally bought a whole chicken and cut the chicken into parts before cooking.

The recipe serves for 2 people.


  • For spice paste: 2 cloves of garlic, halved
  • For spice paste: 3 small size or 1 large size of shallot (about 75 grams), quartered
  • For spice paste: 1/2 tablespoon sambal oelek or to taste. You can use red chili pepper instead.
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • For spice paste: 2 candlenuts, halved
  • For spice paste: 1" fresh ginger, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemongrass, white part smashed using the back of knife and green part discarded
  • 2" cinnamon stick
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite size
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt or to taste
  • Optional: chopped fresh parsley or cilantro


  1. Place all the spice paste ingredients into a food processor. Pulse it until it becomes smooth paste.
  2. Heat up 3 tablespoons vegetable oil on a pan over medium high heat. Add spice paste, lemongrass, and cinnamon stick into the pan. Saute it until it becomes fragrant. Add chicken into the pan. Stir fry the chicken so that it is coated with the spice paste. Cook the chicken until it is fully cooked. Add coconut milk and water into the pan. Cook it until the liquid turns into a boil. Add salt and pepper. Taste it and add more seasoning if needed. Cook until the liquid is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.
  3. Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle with fresh cilantro or parsley if preferred. Serve it with warm rice.

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