Chicken from Ternate

A creamy but spicy chicken in a reduced coconut sauce; I like ;-). This chicken from Ternate recipe is originally from the North Moluccan island of Ternate. It is easy to make and delicious to eat.

Beb lived in the Moluccas for a while (in the 1930’s) on a cajeput plantation. Both of her sons were born there. Read more about Beb Vuyk’s life here.

This recipe is enough for 3-4 people and is finished in 45 minutes (if you use a emersion mixer for the herb mix -bumbu).

Chicken from Ternate # 283 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch kookboek, page 243.


1 chicken of 1000 to 1200 grams
1/6 block sants
2 tablespoons of oil
1/4 l of water


5 tablespoons of chopped onions
2 shredded cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of sambal terasi (chili salsa with shrimp paste)
5 puffed kemiries (candle nuts)
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1 stalk sereh (lemon grass)
juice of 1 lemon

Cut the chicken into big pieces. Rub onions, garlic, sambal, puffed kemiries and ginger powder together into a paste; stir-fry in the oil until the onions are yellow. Add 1/4 liter of boiling water and the sereh (lemongrass). Simmer in this mix the pieces of chicken until they are halfway done. Add the santen (coconut cream) and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is done. Then stir the lemon juice through carefully.

I have 600-gram chicken legs. I did not buy a whole chicken. It’s just too much work and chicken legs eat easier too. I just use slightly fewer spices than Beb prescribes because I use 400 grams less meat.

My sambal trassi is on, so I do 1 whole pepper with trassi and a pinch of salt through the bumbu (= herbal mix).

Kemiries are nuts. In English they’re called candlenuts. You must always roast them before using, otherwise, they are slightly poisonous.

But I keep it easy and use kemirie paste from a jar I buy at my specialist Asian store. One teaspoon of candlenut paste is the same amount as 2 nuts.

Beb uses lemon in her chicken from Ternate. I use lime instead; also very tasty.

Santen is a coconut cream. I can get that at my supermarket or Asian shop. You can also use coconut milk. This coconut cream though makes the sauce thick and tasty.

Beb used in her recipe ginger powder, but I think that a piece of fresh ginger works well too. I cut 2 centimeters of a big ginger root and peel it. I chop the ginger into three pieces before blending.

Because the sauce of this Ternata chicken needs to be thick, I mix the ingredients with my emersion blender.

The chicken mix turns red because of the pepper; beautiful. It also smells strong and delicious because of the trassi (shrimp paste) and ginger.

With a few tablespoons of oil, I stir-fry the bumbu (blended herb mix) in the wok until the onions turn light yellow.

The lemon grass can be cut into pieces and I add it together with the boiling water and the chickens to the pan.

Beb uses 1/4 liter water for her kilo of chicken. I use the same amount of water for my 600 grams of chicken legs; it seems just enough to simmer it.

To make sure the chicken is done well, I keep the lid on the pan for the first 5 minutes.

The sauce has to reduce and thicken, so for the second part, I leave the lid off.

For a further 20 minutes, I let the chicken legs simmer with the santen (coconut cream).

The sauce begins to splash as it grows thicker. A tall pan is useful to keep your kitchen less messy. Or just clean afterward ;-).

Now my chicken legs are done. I add the lime juice. I leave the chicken legs in the sauce with the fire turned off. This way the juices go back into the chicken and the meat becomes even more tender.

Now it’s time to serve my chicken from Ternate. My chili peppers are tasty and spicy. It makes the whole dish lovely and sparkly. We drink an Indonesian

We drink an Indonesian green lemon tea with my chicken and we serve it with white rice and a cucumber salad. Perfect for the 27 degrees it will be in the Netherlands today. Enak!

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