Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Padi or Chicken in Coconut Milk with Birds Eye Chili, is a rich spicy yellow coconut gravy that is cooked with bird’s eye chili.
It is one of the many Malaysian favourites to accompany a hot plate of fragrant Jasmine rice. When I use to buy nasi bungkus from Malay stalls, I always say,”Banjir kuah,” which simply translates to “Please flood my rice with the soup.”
My way of cooking is really survival style, and I usually just dump whatever’s available. But as this is my first time trying to cook this at home, I did my research and asked around for tips and tricks.
I find that the best recipes are usually recipes passed down from generation to generation. They are usually no set rules or measurements: you just cook with the skills you have honed from watching your mother or grand mother in the kitchen.
While this recipe uses chicken, it can be substituted with prawns, flower crab or fish. Occasionally pineapples, tomatoes or potatoes are added in.
Depending on your taste buds, you can add more or less chillies but I like mine really spicy! I used this recipe as a guideline and you can get it translated from Malay to English here.
Ingredients you will need are:
Approximately half a chicken cut into bite size, washed and drained
10 fire chillies and a few more for garnishing
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch fresh turmeric
2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
1 slice of dried tamarind
1 box of 200ml coconut milk (fresh is fine too)
2 tbsp of cooking oil
1 cup water
Salt, sugar, and fish sauce to taste
Method of preparation:
Have all your ingredients portioned out and ready. Blend or pound all your aromatics (garlic, chilies, onions, tumeric) with the chili.
Heat the pan over medium heat. Here you can choose to precook the chicken in the hot pan, to rid the chicken of any access water. I was lazy so I did not. Add the oil into the pan and fry your aromatics including the bruised lemongrass until fragrant.
Add your chicken and mix well.
Next, I added the coconut milk, stirring continuously so that the coconut milk would not split.
Add water and bring to the boil. Add tamarind slice and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked. Add salt to taste, a dash of fish sauce(optional) and balance out the sourness from the tamarind with some sugar.
Lastly, garnish with some more bird’s eye chilies and your dish is done. You can also add sliced turmeric leaves, even Kafir lime leaves or a sprinkle of chopped coriander leaves for a nice pop of colour.
Do give this a try and let me know in the comments below how it goes!