Java Chicken Curry, Opor ayam

January 23, 2013

Opor ayam is fragrant chicken stewed in coconut milk, rich yet tasty, is a traditional dish that has been popular in the island of Java especially in Central Java where the dish actually comes from.

Some people also call it as Indonesian chicken stew, however I thought of giving a special nick-name too as White Chicken Curry and I do actually think it is really sounds cool…

Well, this is an Exotic Indonesian dish, Opor ayam also a very special delicacy menu that would served on the day of Ied (Lebaran) as most of Muslim in Indonesia  particularly lived in Java has certainly presenting Opor Ayam along with Rice cake (ketupat/lontong) somehow, the truest fact is Opor Ayam definitely celebrated by all people across the archipelago

Growing up with this dish, I recall when my mother would make Opor ayam only for a special event or family celebration, we all have enjoyed the feast, happy and satisfied.

Although in some areas in Indonesia, there are many other variation to make opor ayam such opor ayam pedas (spicy opor ayam),  shredded opor ayam (opor ayam suwir), dried opor ayam(Opor ayam kering) and many more, but the basic spices uses would remain the same as a guideline for the characteristics opor ayam--delicious and tasty

In my opinion, Opor ayam is definitely worthy classified as Typical Southeast Asian curry that because of the uses of very fresh exotic spices such Lemongrass, fresh ginger root and fresh kaffir lime leaf. The color of the end result from this dish is plain pale-white, as it reminds me to what my mother said when I call her to ask her Opor Ayam recipe. She shared a tip, that in order to outsmart the uses of candle nuts, it should be soaked in water beforehand for couples minutes as it has a layer of a thin epidermis and then scraps it off using a metal spoon. This tip, actually helps to make the color of Opor ayam looks on its real appetizing outcome, hmm… 

Opor ayam is second famous dish listed as Indonesian Food Heritage beside Rendang, therefore I should be completely serious in preserving the archipelago cuisine, original and traditional. 

Indonesian cuisine was always being a central part of my heart live, the diversity of every region cuisine in Indonesia has mesmerized and the same time magnetized!

Today I share my Opor ayam recipe with a lighter version as I replace the coconut milk to very light coconut milk as  it just fitted to my liking  

Java Chicken Curry, Opor ayam


500g chicken

750ml light coconut milk

4 slices medium-thick ginger root

3 stalks lemongrass

5 kafir lime leaves

4 Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam)

1 tablespoon tamarind pulp

4-5 tablespoon vegetable oil

Opor ayam spice paste

6 shallots

6 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon white peppercorns

3 candlenuts

salt and sugar to taste


Kaffir lime leaves

Fried  shallots (mine is store bought fried shallots)


Wash clean the chicken and cut into 5-6 pieces.

Wash the lemongrass and cut into two pieces and lightly bruise.

Peel the garlic and shallots, chop up with a kitchen knife

Mix coriander seeds, white peppercorns and candle nuts, heat the non stick skillet and toast the spices mixture. Toast until fragrant  about 3 minutes.


Grind the shallots, garlic, toasted coriander seeds, white peppercorns and candle nuts.

Heat up oil in a wok or non-stick pan, add in the spice paste and fry until aromatic.

Add the chicken, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, tamarind pulp and Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam), cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes. If it seems too dry up, you can always add up sufficient amount of water.

When the chicken turn it color and aromatic, lower the heat and pour the light coconut milk, season well with salt and sugar. *If it looks too thick, you can always add up a cup of water or chicken broth.

Gently cook until  the chicken perfectly done around 35-45minutes.


Take the chicken with a slotted spoon, arrange in the serving bowl and ladle the coconut milk broth over the chicken, garnish with kaffir lime leaves and sprinkle a smattering fried shallots for some crunch.

Accompaniments: steamed jasmine or rice cake  (lontong/ketupat)

To maintain the color of Opor ayam remain pale-white:

fill a small bowl with water, soaked the candlenuts in it, once it goes soft, take a metal spoon and scrap off the surface to remove the thin layer of candlenuts epidermis *this step is optional only if you have time to do it.

I do think that it will work if you make a big portion Opor ayam, in order to give it color remain pale-white, clean and bright 

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