Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api Restourant Style Malay Food



Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api is a classic Malaysian chicken curry dish known for its rich and creamy coconut milk base infused with the fiery heat of bird’s eye chili (cili api). This flavorful curry is a staple in Malaysian cuisine, loved for its bold flavors and comforting warmth. In this comprehensive recipe, we will explore the art of preparing Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api, from creating the fragrant spice paste to simmering the chicken in creamy coconut gravy. Join us on a culinary journey as we unlock the secrets to making this iconic Malaysian dish in your own kitchen.


Let’s begin by gathering the essential ingredients for Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api:

For Spice Paste (Rempah):

  • 8-10 dried red chilies, soaked in hot water and deseeded
  • 5-6 bird’s eye chilies (cili api), chopped
  • 5 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 inch galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (belacan)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For Curry:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces or chicken drumsticks/thighs
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • Cooking oil for frying
  • Garnishing:

    • Salad Garnish:

      1. Asian Slaw:

        • Ingredients:

          • Shredded cabbage
          • Shredded carrots
          • Thinly sliced red bell peppers
          • Chopped cilantro
          • Chopped green onions
          • Lime juice
          • Fish sauce
          • Sugar
          • Crushed peanuts (optional)
        • Method:

          • In a large bowl, toss together shredded cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, cilantro, and green onions.
          • In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar to taste to create the dressing.
          • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly.
          • Garnish the salad with crushed peanuts for added crunch, if desired.
      2. Cucumber Tomato Salad:

        • Ingredients:

          • Sliced cucumbers
          • Cherry tomatoes, halved
          • Thinly sliced red onions
          • Chopped fresh mint
          • Lime juice
          • Olive oil
          • Salt and pepper
        • Method:

          • In a large bowl, combine sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and fresh mint.
          • Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil.
          • Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss gently to combine.

      Sauce Accompaniments:

      1. Sambal Belacan:
        • Ingredients:

          • Red chilies, seeded and chopped
          • Shrimp paste (belacan)
          • Lime juice
          • Sugar
          • Salt
        • Method:

          • In a mortar and pestle, pound together chopped red chilies and shrimp paste until it forms a smooth paste.
          • Transfer the paste to a small bowl and stir in lime juice, sugar, and salt to taste.
          • Adjust the seasoning according to your preference, adding more lime juice for acidity or sugar for sweetness.
      2. Peanut Sauce:
        • Ingredients:

          • Creamy peanut butter
          • Coconut milk
          • Soy sauce
          • Lime juice
          • Brown sugar
          • Garlic, minced
          • Red chili flakes (optional)
        • Method:

          • In a saucepan, combine creamy peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, minced garlic, and red chili flakes (if using).
          • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and heated through.
          • Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more soy sauce for saltiness or lime juice for acidity.
      3. Sweet Chili Sauce:
        • Ingredients:

          • Red chilies, seeded and chopped
          • Garlic, minced
          • Rice vinegar
          • Sugar
          • Water
          • Cornstarch (optional, for thickening)
        • Method:

          • In a saucepan, combine chopped red chilies, minced garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, and water.
          • Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened.
          • If desired, mix a small amount of cornstarch with water to create a slurry and add it to the sauce to thicken further.
          • Let the sauce cool before serving.


Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s prepare the spice paste and chicken with care and attention to detail to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness.

  1. Preparing the Spice Paste (Rempah):
    • In a blender or food processor, combine soaked dried red chilies, bird’s eye chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, and shrimp paste.
    • Blend the ingredients into a smooth paste, adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil to facilitate blending if necessary. Set aside.
  2. Marinating the Chicken:
    • Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and season with salt. Set aside while preparing the curry.

Cooking Process:

Now that the spice paste and chicken are prepared, let’s move on to the cooking process to create the flavorful Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api.

  1. Frying the Spice Paste:
    • Heat some cooking oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
    • Add the spice paste (rempah) to the pot and sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the oil begins to separate from the paste.
  2. Cooking the Curry:
    • Add the marinated chicken pieces to the pot, stirring to coat them evenly with the spice paste.
    • Pour in the coconut milk and water or chicken broth, stirring to combine.
    • Add kaffir lime leaves and bruised lemongrass stalks to the pot, bringing the curry to a gentle boil.
  3. Simmering the Curry:
    • Reduce the heat to low and let the curry simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, and the curry has thickened to your desired consistency.
    • Taste the curry and adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar if needed, balancing the flavors to your preference.
  4. Garnishing:
    • Once the curry is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and discard the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass stalks.
    • Garnish the Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api with fresh cilantro leaves, sliced red chilies, and fried shallots for added flavor and texture.


As we prepare to present our Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api, let’s focus on creating an enticing visual display that will tempt the taste buds and delight the senses.

  1. Plating with Precision:
    • Ladle the fragrant Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api into a large serving bowl or individual bowls, making sure to include plenty of chicken pieces and flavorful gravy.
  2. Enhancing Visual Appeal:
    • Arrange the garnishes of fresh cilantro leaves, sliced red chilies, and fried shallots on top of the curry, creating an eye-catching contrast of colors and textures.
    • Consider serving the Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api with steamed white rice or traditional Malaysian accompaniments like nasi lemak or roti canai for a complete meal experience.
  3. Creating a Sensory Experience:
    • As you present the Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api to your guests, allow the aromatic spices and creamy coconut gravy to tantalize their senses, inviting them to indulge in this flavorful Malaysian curry.
    • Encourage your guests to savor each bite of tender chicken infused with the fiery heat of bird’s eye chilies, balanced by the richness of coconut milk and fragrant spices.


In conclusion, Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api is a quintessential Malaysian curry dish that showcases the bold flavors and aromatic spices of Malaysian cuisine. By following this comprehensive recipe and paying attention to the details of preparing the spice paste and simmering the curry to perfection, you can recreate the magic of Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api in your own kitchen. Serve it with steamed rice or your favorite Malaysian accompaniments for a satisfying and memorable dining experience.

So, gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and let the aroma of fragrant spices fill your kitchen. From our kitchen to yours, we wish you bon appétit and selamat makan! (Enjoy your meal!)

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