Ayam Rujak – Chicken in Spicy Coconut Broth

Ayam Rujak
Chicken in Spicy Coconut Broth

This chicken in spicy coconut broth is called an ayam rujak in Indonesia. The word ‘rujak’ is normally used for an Indonesian fruit salad with spicy Javanese sugar dressing. But rujak can also mean ‘mixed’.

Chicken in any kind of coconut broth is delicious don’t you think? This ayam rujak is seasoned with Indonesian chili salsa (sambal), lemon leaves (jeruk purut) and Javanese sugar (gula Jawa).

I make all the recipes from Beb Vuyk’s famous Dutch-Indonesian cookbook. Here chicken and duck section is especially delicious.

Morning market in Burma

When we lived in Burma, already 5 years ago, we did not always have electricity. The power cuts were almost daily and usually several times a day. So I could not rely on my fridge. So I did what everyone else did in the flat where we lived: early in the morning, buy fresh chicken, rinse well and immediately process into a dish. Once cooked, the chance of decay was much smaller (providing you eat it the same day).

Morning market in Burma
My daughter Loulou chooses a nice looking chicken. They were still warm and are cleaned on the spot. We also bought the organs so that we could make soup.

Chicken in Spicy Coconut Broth

This Beb Vuyk’s dish of chicken in spicy coconut broth is the perfect recipe for our fresh morning chicken.

Now here in the Netherlands, I buy two free-range chicken legs. Together they weigh 500 grams. Beb uses a whole chicken of about a 1000 grams. I, therefore, halve the ingredients for my dish. Here is Beb’s recipe.

Chicken in Spicy Coconut Broth (Ayam Rujak) #296 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesian Cookbook, page 252.


  • 1 chicken from 1000 to 1200 grams
  • 1/4 block santen (coconut cream)
  • 6 tablespoons of oil
  • 1/2 l of water


  • 3 tablespoons of chopped onions
  • 2 shredded cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sambal ulek
  • 6 roasted kemiri nuts (candlenuts)
  • 1 teaspoon of Javanese sugar
  • piece of asem the size of a walnut (tamarind)
  • 2 jeruk purut leaves (lemon leaves)
  • salt
  1. Cut the chicken into pieces, add salt and cook in the oil on all sides until light brown.
  2. Grind onions, garlic, sambal, the candlenuts, sugar, and a little salt into a paste.
  3. Bring water to a boil with some salt and the lemon leaves, add the pieces of chicken when it boils.
  4. After 10 minutes, add the piece of santen and the ground herbs.
  5. Let it simmer until the chicken is done.
  6. Make asem water from the piece of asem and add it. Let the chicken simmer for a short while longer.

Beb uses a 1/4 santen (coconut cream). Santen is hard coconut that you melt in a broth. I have some coconut milk left, so I’m going to use that. Therefore, my sauce is thinner, but because I will reduce the sauce later, it will have a nice consistency in the end.

First I chop my chicken legs in two. Then I rub them well with salt. I use half a teaspoon for my 500 grams of chicken.

Beb uses her mortar (cobek) for the herbs, but I’m going to use my emersion blender because a nice smooth bumbu (spice mix) is perfect for this dish.

My sambal ulek is finished, but that does not matter. Sambal ulek is a basic chili paste and consists of chili peppers with some salt. I place a whole chili pepper in my jug, along with the onions, garlic, candlenut paste and the sugar. A add a quarter teaspoon of salt too.


I buy candlenuts (kemiri nuts) that are already made into a paste like peanut butter. Kemiri nuts are very rich in fat. They make sure that the herb mix binds together. The greasiness also helps the blender to blend smoothly.

If you use fresh candlenuts, make sure that you roast them in the pan, otherwise, they are slightly toxic.

Fry until light golden brown

The chicken legs must be cooked until they are slightly brown. I let them touch the oil for 2 minutes on each side.

Beb boils water separately and then add the legs later. I work the other way around (and this way I only use one pan) and pour boiling hot water directly onto the chicken legs and add the lemon leaves (jeruk purut).

I let the chicken legs simmer gently for 8 minutes. Now I scoop the bumbu through with the asem (tamarind).

Asem is tamarind paste. I buy a jar at my local Asian food store. This tamarind has already been filtered and has been stripped of its seeds. Asem has a slightly sweet-sour flavor.

I also add the coconut milk now. I replace the 1/4 santen (coconut cream) with about 200 ml of coconut milk.

I let my chicken gently simmer for at least 20 minutes in this rich stock.

You can also turn off the gas after 10 minutes and leave it with the lid on for hours until dinner time or until the next day. Then the meat falls off the bone!

Now I take out my chicken from the sauce because I want to reduce the sauce a little.

I let my sauce boil now while I occasionally stir it until the liquid is halved. After about 6 minutes it is done.

Then I pour it just before serving over the legs.

The sauce alone is finger-licking delicious already. We eat the ayam rujak with red rice and a raw Indonesian salad with peanut butter: ketoprak.

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