The Only Ayam Masak Merah Recipe You Need for Raya
Photo by Cookido It’s Raya season! With all the talk about the glorious Hari Raya dishes that will be cooked for gatherings, one dish will never shy away from the spotlight. That’s right, it’s Ayam Masak Merah! The mere mention of this dish will send all avid Nasi Padang lovers into salivating mode. What’s not to love about this dish? It hits all the right notes with the fragrant tang of lemongrass and ginger, the fiery kick of the sweet sambal and flavourful turmeric infused chicken. In fact, Ayam Masak Merah has become synonymous with Hari Raya festivities and sighted in many local Nasi Padang or Nasi Campur stalls in Singapore and West Malaysia. While there are many variations to this traditional heritage recipe, this one’s sure to bring your taste buds dancing in ecstacy. What’s the secret to whipping up a great tasting Ayam Masak Merah? The key will be a longer cooking time for your sambal and being adventurous with your sugar options for sweetening of the dish. Just skip the white sugar and opt for a combination of gula melaka, palm sugar and red sugar instead! You’ll taste the difference. And if you’re a fan of spice, load up your chilli padi for the burst of spicy sambal goodness. This dish is also best served with Nasi Tomato (Tomato Rice) or Nasi Minyak. This recipe uses the Kenwood Blend-X Compact Blender 1.6L.


  1 whole fresh chicken cut into 8 or 12 parts
  5 ½ tbsp turmeric powder
  salt for seasoning
  2 tbsp curry powder
  3 large onions
  8 shallots
  2 lemongrass stalks
  6 sticks fresh ginger
  20 dried chillies
  ½ tbsp gula melaka
  1 tbsp red sugar
  ½ tbsp palm sugar
  10 tbsp tomato sauce
  8 tbsp sunflower or canola oil for deep frying
  200 ml boiled water to add or reduce according to preference
  50 g boiled green peas for garnishing
  1 fresh chilli sliced for garnishing



Wash the cut chicken parts before placing in a large shallow dish.


Sprinkle the chicken parts with the turmeric powder and salt, rubbing in thoroughly.


Heat oil in a deep frying pan on medium high temperature for about 5 minutes until the oil comes to a light bubble.


Fry the turmeric-coated chicken for about 10-15 minutes until half cooked and set aside.


Cut the dried chilli into thin slices, removing the seeds.


Soak the cut dried chilli slices in warm water for 10 minutes, then set aside.


Add onions, garlic, shallots, ginger, lemongrass and the soaked chilli slices to a food processor.


Blend to achieve a smooth and consistent texture while gradually adding the boiled water.


In a medium-sized wok, add the oil from frying the chicken and heat.


Pour the blended ingredients into the hot oil and stir constantly to prevent them sticking to the wok.


After about 15 minutes, add the tamarind slices, curry powder and some water.


Continue to stir, adding a little more water if the sauce appears to dry out. A good indication of the sauce coming together well is when oil forms a layer on top.


After about 30 minutes, add tomato sauce, salt and the rest of the sugar.


Stir well and add more water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.


Add the fried chicken and simmer for 10-15 more minutes until chicken is cooked through. Once you see the sauce coming to a glistening shine, your prized Ayam Masak Merah dish is ready to be served.


Top off your dish with boiled green peas for garnish.