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

Grilled coconut chicken or ayam panggang Sulawesi is a fabulous chicken recipe from Indonesia. The chicken is boiled in coconut milk and then grilled. |

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indonesian
Keyword Grilled Coconut Chicken


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. While the broth continues to simmer, rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat it dry. Poke the chicken flesh with a fork.
  5. 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 3/4 th 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.

  6. 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!
  7. Menu suggestions: Lemongrass coconut rice & Javanese Carrots & Cucumbers Salad!