Lengkuas, also known as laos in Javanese, or galangal (Alpinia/Greater galangal) in English, belongs to the ginger family. The rhizome is a native to Southeast Asia and a common ingredient in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cooking. It has a strong taste and is highly aromatic, used to flavour soups, curries and stir fries.
Lengkuas is one of the most important spices in Indonesian cooking and it is used extensively in many regional dishes.
Although they belong to the same family, galangal is not to be confused with ginger. They have totally different flavours and aromas, and cannot be used interchangeably. In fact, there is no substitute for galangal. If it’s not available, it’s better to just omit it.
All About Lengkuas (Galangal)
Lengkuas is a tuberous root with a tough skin. When using it for cooking, Indonesians don’t normally peel the skin. We just wash it, and then thinly slice it. To release the aroma, after slicing it, we also lightly bash it, but it’s optional. 1 or 2 slices of galangal is sufficient to give the dish the much-needed flavour.
Ayam goreng lengkuas is a delicious specialty from Bandung, West Java (part of the Sundanese region of Indonesia), and literally means ‘galangal fried chicken’. What makes this fried chicken unique is the way the chicken is cooked, that is, using a large quantity of grated fresh galangal. Not just a couple of thin slices, but a few hundreds grams (200 gr to be exact) to make this recipe!
I know it sounds like a lot, but incorporating a ton of fresh galangal to season fried chicken is surprisingly an absolute YESS! The large amount of the lengkuas used is not overwhelming at all, and instead blends harmoniously with other spices, making it very delicious.
In this recipe, the chicken pieces are gently simmered with blended spices. When the simmering is done, the cooked chicken and spices are separated. The spices are then placed in a colander or strainer, and then pressed to remove the excess water. Before serving, both chicken and the spices are deep fried separately until golden brown. The spiced grated galangal will turn into tasty floss. This floss is then sprinkled over the fried chicken, adding extra crunch and flavour. It’s making the dish much more interesting and aesthetically pleasing too!
Ayam goreng lengkuas can be prepared in advance and kept in a refrigerator for a few days after the simmering process, but for practical reasons, I would recommend deep-frying the whole (drained) spices/grated galangal and keeping it in an airtight container. The floss will be ready anytime you want to enjoy the ayam goreng lengkuas.
As with other Sundanese food, ayam goreng lengkuas is usually served with rice, accompanied by classic lalapan and any choice of sambal to fire up the meal.Print
Ayam goreng lengkuas is a unique fried chicken dish from the Sunda region of West Java. Here, the chicken is simmered in spices that include a ton of galangal, deep fried, and then topped with galangal floss.
- 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, wash thoroughly
- 200 gr fresh galangal, grate manually or grind in a food processor
- 8 shallots, peeled, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
- 4 roasted candlenuts, chopped
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 3 cm turmeric, peeled, chopped
- 3 cm ginger, peeled, chopped
- 2 lemongrass, use only the white part, cut into 3, bruised
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 salam leaves
- Salt to taste
- 300 ml water
- Cooking oil for deep frying
- Manually grate the galangal or grind it in a food processor
- Blend into a fine paste: shallots, garlic, candlenuts, coriander seed, turmeric and ginger. Set aside.
- In a deep wok, put the grated galangal, spice paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, salam leaves and salt. Mix all the spices and herbs thoroughly.
- Add the chicken.
- Pour the water, mix, and then cook everything over medium high heat until it boils. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium low.
- Cook the chicken for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- When it’s done, remove the chicken and discard the herbs (lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and salam leaves).
- Strain the leftover spice, and discard the gravy.
- Deep fry the chicken until golden brown (around 4 minutes each side), set aside.
- Deep fry the leftover spice until golden brown.
- Transfer the fried chicken onto a serving plate and sprinkle with the fried spices.
- Grating galangal (the way we grate coconut) is the best method to get beautiful floss, but a blender can be used as well (I used one too). Please make sure to chop the galangal into smaller pieces before blending it to avoid the galangal getting stuck in the blender, and make sure to not blend it into a too fine pulp. We want some texture here to get nice floss.
- Blend the fresh galangal separately from the other spices.
Keywords: Lemongrass, double cooking