Asam Ayam – Malaysian Chicken with Tamarind

asam ayam - malaysisk kylling med tamarind_page_thumb[2]

This dish is usually served with white rice and cucumber chunks.

1 1/4-1 1/2 kg [2,75-3,30 lb] fresh chicken
2 cups (5 ml) boiling water
3/4 cup (125 g) tamarind meat*
3/4 cup (185 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 cup) dark soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 large onion, finely sliced or grated
2 tbsp coriander seeds
salt and crushed black pepper

* A popular alternative is to use lime juice (or sometimes white wine or rice vinegar) mixed with an equal quantity of light brown sugar as a substitute for tamarind. This will give the sweet and sour effect but slightly lacks an extra flavour supplied by tamarind so it really depends on how much tamarind is used in the recipe so this is best when only small amounts of tamarind are used.


[1] Rinse the chicken and drain it well. Put water in a deep bowl with tamarind and sugar. Stir until the tamarind meat is completely dissolved, pick up the seeds and discard them. Add the soy sauce, garlic and onion. Place the chicken in the mixture and let it marinate for at least 8 hours, turn occasionally.

[2] Heat a saucepan large enough to hold the chicken. Add the coriander seeds and dry roast them until the seeds are golden and begin to “pop.” Put them in a spice grinder and grind them to a smooth powder and put them back in the saucepan. Add the chicken  with the marinade, salt and black pepper and give it a boil. Turn down the heat, put the lid properly on and let everything simmer about 40 minutes until chicken is very tender. Take it up, and cut into serving pieces.

[3] Give the sauce a quick boil, cook further until it has boiled reduced substantially. Pour it over the chicken and serve immediately.

6 servings