Ayam Bakar Solo: Solonese Grilled Chicken

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Who doesn’t like grilled chicken? This dish is universal and everyone loves it! Every country, region, and even individual has  their own version of grilled chicken. Chicken is available all over the world, and throughout history, grilling has been one of the favourite methods of cooking it. 

Grilled chicken is known as ayam bakar in Indonesia. There are many varieties of ayam bakar, each flavoured with a unique blend of spices. Most commonly, such blends include sweet soy sauce, which the chicken is simmered or marinated in before grilling. 

This ayam bakar recipe comes from my hometown Solo, also known as Surakarta. It uses a lot of spices and herbs, including the beloved Javanese duo of Indonesian bay leaves and galangal. The flavour is rich and savoury, and it’s slightly sweet from the palm sugar and sweet soy sauce. The herbs make the chicken quite aromatic.

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Simmer the chicken on low heat until all the liquid evaporates to allow the spices to penetrate thoroughly. After this, the chicken can also be marinated overnight, but this is optional. Then comes the grilling! The best way would be to grill the chicken over hot charcoal, but if you do not have time or energy to do it, a non-stick grilling pan is perfectly fine. Enjoy the grilled chicken with lalapan (a mix of fresh or boiled vegetables) and sambal bajak. Bring it over to a party and share it with friends!

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Ayam Bakar Solo: Solonese Grilled Chicken

Ayam Bakar Solo: Solonese Grilled Chicken

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Poultry
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal

Description

Grilled chicken is enjoyed throughout Indonesia and comes in different regional varieties. This recipe comes from the city of Solo, and uses a spice blend that incorporates sweet soy sauce and Indonesian bay leaves.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium-sized chicken, portioned into 4
  • 6 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 3 candlenuts, chopped
  • 3 cm turmeric, peeled, chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 0.5 tsp whole white peppercorns
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (salam leaf)
  • 1 lemongrass, use only the white part, bruised, knotted
  • 3 cm galangal, bruised
  • 0.5 tbsp palm sugar, saved
  • 4 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 400 ml water
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil

Instructions

  1. Using a blender or food processor, blend into a fine paste the: shallots, garlic, candlenuts, turmeric, ginger, white peppercorns and coriander.
  2. Heat the cooking oil in a wok over medium high heat.
  3. Sautee the spice paste, bay leaves, lemongrass and galangal until fragrant, around 3 minutes.
  4. Add palm sugar, soy sauce and salt.
  5. Add water, stir well.
  6. Add the chicken, then mix it with the spices thoroughly.
  7. Cover the wok and reduce the heat to medium low.
  8. Continue cooking for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is done and most of the liquid has evaporated. 
  9. Grill the chicken until it is slightly charred.
  10. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • The original version uses coconut water instead of plain water, but since coconut water is hard to obtain, plain water can be used without making it any less delicious.

Keywords: Non-spicy, soy sauce, bay leaves

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