This dish is called Opor Ayam. “Ayam” means chicken in Indonesian. And “opor” just refers to the way of cooking with coconut milk.
This is probably one of the most famous dishes in Indonesia, especially during the Muslim Eid festival. It is usually eaten with rice cakes during this season. But it is just as delicious with rice.
Indonesian Jews would serve this for Friday dinner and not serve it again for Shabbat lunch. It has the thick coconut sauce in it, and to Ashkenazim, it will be a problem when putting the dish on the platter to warm it up. To Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews, this may not be a problem.
In Indonesia, kosher chicken is hard to find. One way to get chicken is to buy it in the Kosher store in Singapore. The other way is to order chicken to be shecht in Bali. Every few months, the Chabad Rabbi of Singapore will travel to Chabad in Bali to shecht hundreds of chicken for the Jews in Indonesia who still keep kosher. What we do is tell the one in Bali how many chicken you will need in advance, before the Rabbi arrives there. You will then have to arrange a pick up to get your chicken to where you live. Considering that this would be a domestic flight, and the chicken comes from the local farms, the cost can be significantly less than buying it from Singapore.
The ingredients is typical to Indonesian spices. However, I have tried making this in Israel and it was not that difficult to find anything. The only difficult one is finding the galangal root. In Indonesia it is called laos or lengkuas. It looks like ginger but smells and tastes different. When I went to the market in Jerusalem and Hadera, Israeli’s confuse this root with shoresh Yerushalayim, which is very different. Galangal in Hebrew is shoresh galangali and you can actually buy a dry version of it at Derech ha-Tavlinim for ₪7.5 per 100 grams.
In Indonesia, it is easy to find kaffir lime leaves. But in Israel, you can use lemon leaves or just etrog leaves. Most likely it will be much easier to get etrog leaves.
You can also change candle nuts with macademia nuts. It is more expensive than candle nuts but you don’t need it too much in this recipe.
The recipe is created for 1 whole chicken which weighs up to 1.5 kg. If you cook for more people and use more chicken, you will have to multiply the spices accordingly to keep the proportion of the spices in tact. Enjoy your dinner!
- 1 whole chicken (cut up)
- 8 pieces French shallots (red onions)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tsp coriander seed powder
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 pieces candle nuts (or macadamia nuts)
Additional spice (add as a whole)
- 7 gr ginger (peeled, crushed)
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 25 gr galangal (optional) (shoresh galangali, not to be confused with shoresh yerushalmi)
- 2 pieces kfir limes leaves/ lemon leaves/ etrog leaves
- 2 pieces bay leaves
Coconut milk mixture
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 200 ml water
- Put the candle nuts, French shallots, garlic, pepper powder, coriander seed powder, and salt into the food processor to make a thick consistent paste.
- Pour the vegetable oil into a pan, and heat it. When hot, pour the spice paste into it and stir fry. Do not stop stirring. Move fast. Add to it the additional spices: ginger, galangal, bay leaves and lemongrass, and kfir lime/ etrog/ lemon leaves. Keep stirring for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant.
- Mix coconut milk and water, pour into pan. Stir to mix with spice paste. Put in the chicken parts one by one, making sure that every piece of chicken is partly immersed into the mixture.
- Cook for 1.5 hours or until chicken is tender.