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Indonesian Chicken Stew (Opor Ayam)

By: Dani Mardayat,
Indonesian Chicken Stew (Opor Ayam)
This image courtesy of

Indonesian Chicken Stew: A traditional staple that originated in Central Java, Indonesia, Opor Ayam is a rich, coconut-milk based chicken stew celebrated all across the archipelago. For a healthier experience, use skinless chicken and replace regular coconut milk with a lighter version. Exotic ingredients such as lemongrass, lime leaves and daun salam (Indian bay leaf) give off a zesty aroma while the chicken simmers in the coconut milk. These otherworldly ingredients can be easily accessed from most Southeast Asian grocery stores, but if still elusive, substitute them with the understudies below. Ladle the coconut milk broth over a mound of jasmine rice, then top off with the chicken. Sprinkle a smattering of fried onions for some crunch.


For more from Dani, be sure to check out her Featured Foodies profile page.


  • 2 inches of peeled ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 6 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon candle nut (or substitute with 1 tablepoon of cashew nut)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 pounds skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil (corn is best)
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass (or substitute with a 1/2 zest of lemon)
  • 5 lime leaves (or substitute with 1 tablespoon of lime zest)
  • 5 daun salam (or substitute with 5 regular bay leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Accompaniments: jasmine rice and fried onions


  1. Grind the ginger, garlic, shallots, candle nut, salt, white pepper, coriander and cumin in a food processor. Fry the mixture with the cooking oil in a shallow pot until the shallots turn translucent.
  2. Add the chicken, lemongrass, daun salam, lime leaves and sugar. Cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat. Pour the coconut milk into the pot with 2 cups of water and cook until the chicken is perfectly done.
  4. Serve with jasmine rice and fried onions.

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