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Opor Ayam (Javanese Chicken in Coconut Milk)

Posting Date: 11/24/17

Opor Ayam (Javanese Chicken in Coconut Milk)

Opor Ayam (Javanese Chicken in Coconut Milk) originated in Central Java. The dish is common to be found during Lebaran (Eid al-Fitr). It can be served with rice or ketupat (rice cakes cooked in palm leaves). In other time, it is served alongside Gudeg (Young Jackfruit Stew). The chicken is cooked in coconut milk with some spices. The dish is not spicy, so it is good for anyone who cannot tolerate heat from chili peppers. However, if you like heat, you can serve it with chili paste on the side. Growing up, my mom used to cook it for me. I consider this dish as comfort food because it is not spicy and thus, it is good when I don't feel like eating spicy food. However, it is still packed with flavor. Even though I use chicken drumsticks in the recipe, you can use other parts of the chicken. Chicken drumsticks are less expensive and that's the reason why I like to use them.

The recipe serves for 2 people.


  • For spice paste: 6 small size or 2 large size shallots, quartered
  • For spice paste: 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • For spice paste: 5 candlenuts, halved. If you cannot find candlenuts in Asian store, you can substitute with macadamia nuts.
  • For spice paste: 1/2 teaspoon galangal powder
  • For spice paste: 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • For spice paste: pinch of cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemongrass, white part only. Smash the white part with the back of the knife to release the oil.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves. If you cannot find kaffir lime leaves, you can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of lime zest.
  • 5 pieces chicken drumsticks. You can use other parts of chicken instead of drumstick.
  • 500 ml water
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or to taste
  • pinch of black pepper
  • Optional: fried onion


  1. Grind garlic, shallots, candlenut, galangal powder, coriander seeds, and cumin powder in a food processor until they become smooth paste.
  2. Heat up vegetable oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add spice paste, lemongrass, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves into the pot. Saute the spice paste until it becomes aromatic and the shallots become soft. Add chicken drumsticks into the pot. Stir fry the chicken so that it is coated with the spice paste and no longer pink. Add water. Bring it to a boil. Add coconut milk, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Stir the liquid and reduce the heat to simmer. Once the chicken is fully cooked and soft and the liquid has been reduced, taste it and add more seasoning if needed. Turn off the heat.
  3. Sprinkle the top with fried onion. While the food is still warm, serve it with rice.

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