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Grilled Coconut Chicken with Lemon Basil (Ayam Panggang Sulawesi)


Grilled Coconut Chicken with Lemon Basil Recipe (Ayam Panggang Sulawesi)

Inspired by James Oseland’s “Cradle of Flavor

Ingredients for the Flavoring Paste:

8 shallots, coarsely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 to 4 red Thai chilies (use according to your taste), coarsely chopped
4 tablespoon peanut oil
2 stalks of lemongrass cut into 2 inch long pieces
8 whole kaffir lime leaves
6 candlenuts (I found them in my Asian grocers) or unsalted macadamia nuts
1 piece of fresh turmeric root, peeled & ground, 2 tsp.
3 ½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 ½ cups of unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh lemon basil (Thai basil can be used as an alternate)
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Cut up chicken


To make the flavoring paste, place the shallots, garlic, red chilies, green chilies, candlenuts, turmeric, and ginger in a small food processor. Pulse until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the 4 tbsp of oil in a large skillet (non-stick) over medium-low heat. When you add the paste in the oil, it should sizzle. Sauté constant until the shallots & garlic no longer smell raw & the paste begins to separate from the oil, Sauté for about 5 minutes. Now add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, & basil, then Sauté some more for 3 minutes until the lemony aroma arises.

Add the coconut milk and salt and stir well to combine with the flavoring paste. Raise the heat slightly and let the coconut milk come to a steady, gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Taste the broth. It should be spicy and rich.

While the broth continues to simmer, rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat it dry. Poke the chicken flesh with a fork.

Add the chicken to the coconut milk broth and cook in a steady simmer. Stirring every 5 minutes to prevent from burning and until the chicken is 3/4th cooked for about 30 – 40 minutes. Chicken should be tender and all the way cooked but not mushy or falling off the bones. You can transfer the chicken pieces to  another dish. And for the Coconut broth, it should have a  thick consistency, so let it cook and thicken some more.

I grilled the chicken on my outdoor gas grill at medium-high heat. I grilled for 5 minutes on both sides of the chicken, until the attractive grill marks form!

Menu suggestions: Lemongrass coconut rice & Javanese Carrots & Cucumbers Salad!

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22 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Kate

    I love Indonesia grilled chicken. I love it that they always boil the chicken with some spices and then grill to perfection. My other favorite is ayam kalasan. Drool!

  2. David

    OMG this is great because I’ve been looking for an alternative to my mums recipe which is well…. Thanks for sharing this one tribe by way of Bee, love you both…

  3. Raul Carvalho

    Boa tarde, visitei o seu blog e gostei muito… Gostaria de lhe pedir se pode colocar o link do meu blog no seu…

    Espero que coloque.
    Belo blog!

    Vinhos da Semana

  4. Jen

    I love chicken cooked or marinated with turmeric. They always taste so great with the exotic taste and aroma. This ayam panggang Sulawesi is a winner!

  5. jen

    I have all ingredients except for the tumeric root and lemon basil/thai basil. what would be reasonable substitutes? this looks delicious but i have limited markets in my area.

  6. There’s a little typo in the article that mention: “ayam panggang Sulawesi is an Indonesian dish from a town called Sulawesi, Indonesia.” Sulawesi is actually an island, on the north side of Java island; I thought this might clarify your reader about Sulawesi. Otherwise, this looks great!

  7. lilian

    This looks really good a bit like ayam percik. If i were to use my broiler how many mins per side? About 5 mins? Can’t wait to try it!

  8. lilian

    Hi, if i were to marinate the chicken in the sauce overnight and cook it the next day would it be more flavorful? Also after boiling it in the broth until its 3/4 cooked can I transfer it into the oven and broil/grill it? Would it be 5 mins per side? Thanks if u can reply asap…recipe looks really delicious and can’t wait to try it!

  9. Donna

    This dish should have been named Ayam Panggang Manado so people who knows Indonesia won’t get confused ‘cos there’s another province in southern Sulawesi famous for its cuisine as well and a lot of Indonesian cooking uses coconut for flavour.

    Also there is another famous dish from Manado : Ayam (Chicken) Rica-Rica. It’s rather spicy, uses a lot lemongrass and kemangi (lemon-basil) leave. When you eat it with warm/hot white rice, the taste just ‘explodes’ in your mouth.

  10. Vikki

    Has anyone actually made this and tasted it? Lots of “beautiful picture” comments but…I would like to get some feedback if possible before I venture out where I live in Mexico to round up all the ingredients…

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