Chicken simmered in mild coconut gravy recipe

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A mild dish without chilies but redolent of coriander, lemon-grass, salam leaves and galangal, Opor Ayam is a universal favorite in Indonesia.


  • 3 cups (750 ml) thin coconut milk
  • 1 fresh chicken (2 lbs/1 kg), cleaned and cut into serving pieces
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thick bottom third only, outer layers discarded, inner part bruised
  • 2 salam leaves or bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (125 ml) thick coconut milk
Spice Paste
  • 5 macadamia nuts or candlenuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 in (2½ cm) fresh galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 3 shallots, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ tablespoon shaved palm sugar or dark brown sugar
How to Make It
  1. Make the Spice Paste by grinding all the ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar or blender, adding a little coconut milk if necessary to keep the mixture turning.
  2. Bring the thin coconut milk and Spice Paste to a boil over high heat in a wok or large saucepan. Add the chicken pieces, lemongrass, salam leaves and salt, mix well and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has reduced by a third. Finally add the thick coconut milk, simmer for 5 more minutes and remove from the heat.
  3. Transfer to a serving casserole and garnish with fresh chilies if desired.

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