Opor Ayam (Chicken in Coconut Milk)

Opor ayam is an Indonesian chicken dish originating from the central to Eastern parts of the Java islands. This is usually served to enliven Ramadan in our tradition, along with ketupat and sambal goreng kentang (chile-fried potato).

Opor Ayam (Chicken in Coconut Milk)
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
50 mins
Additional Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins


  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 4 candlenuts

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 7 shallots, peeled

  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 tablespoon chopped galangal

  • ½ tablespoon chopped ginger

  • ½ teaspoon white peppercorns

  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh turmeric root

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind juice

  • 5 makrut lime leaves

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon white sugar

  • 3 ⅓ cups thin coconut milk

  • 1 cup thick coconut milk

  • 1 small bunch Thai basil (Optional)

  • 1 (2.8 ounce) package fried shallots


  1. Soak chicken pieces in lemon juice for 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast candlenuts, coriander, and cumin in the skillet until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large mortar and pestle and grind into a paste with shallots, garlic, galangal, ginger, peppercorns, and turmeric. Work in batches if necessary.

  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spice paste and stir until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemongrass, tamarind juice, lime leaves, bay leaves, salt, and sugar.

  4. Rinse lemon juice off chicken pieces and slide them into the skillet. Turn to coat evenly with spices. Pour in thin and thick coconut milk. Simmer until flavors combine, about 30 minutes. Add basil leaves. Continue cooking until chicken is tender, about 15 minutes more.

  5. Serve chicken and sauce in a bowl, sprinkled with fried shallots.

Cook's Note:

Substitute salam leaves for the bay leaves if desired. Use lime basil leaves if you can find them.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

538 Calories
46g Fat
19g Carbs
17g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 538
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 46g 59%
Saturated Fat 28g 140%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 433mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 571mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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