Chicken in milk and coconut sauce (Petjel Ajam)

Chicken in coconut milk sauce
This Petjel Ajam can be called Cleopatra’s chicken ;-). Because the chicken ‘swims’ in a hot bath of milk and coconut milk. Yummy! This is my new favorite winter chicken dish. Juicy, tender and spicy. The toasted coconut flakes make the dish look tropical and because of  the roasted coconut, it has a lovely nutty flavor.

The recipe will yield 3-4 servings and the total preparation time: 40 minutes.

Chicken in coconut sauce (Petjel Ajam) from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 254.


1 young chicken + / 1800 grams (not frozen chicken)
6 tablespoons of coconut flour
1/4 block santen (coconut cream/milk)
1/4 liter milk (regular cow milk)
6 tablespoons oil

herbs and spices

5 tablespoons of chopped onions
2 sliced, unseeded pitted lomboks (chilli peppers, can be any kind)

Cut the chicken into pieces, season with salt and fry in the oil until golden brown. Mix the sliced onions and chillies together and add to the chicken dish. Bring the milk to a boil with a little salt and let the block santen melt in it, but do not bring it to a boil. Roast the coconut flour until smooth yellow. Stir in the milk and santen and add this mixture to the chicken. Let it heat up, but do not bring to a boil.


chicken coconut milk sauce dish
I mostly use red peppers when Beb’s recipe says ‘green chilies’. I always take out the seeds. That takes out a lot of spiciness so our 4-year-old can join in too. She love chicken, especially this one, because she is really fond of chicken legs. I opted for chicken legs btw and and not for a whole chicken. It’s easier to eat and easier to make. The picture above shows the chicken just before the ‘milk’-sauce will be added.

Chicken in coconut sauce

While the chicken is in the sauce, I roast the coconut chips. Beb says in her recipe to use coconut flour. My local Indonesian shop does not have it. Maybe Beb means this grated coconut, I can get at my supermarket. It probably roasts much nicely than ‘flour’. Do not add oil to the pan, just add the coconut chips and roast while stirring. Do not let it burn because it tastes bitter.

The chicken is served in a milk bath, it is not stewed in it. It is warm, creamy and the meat is nice and tender. Do not be afraid to use enough salt. Before you add the milk sauce to the dish, thoroughly taste it.

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