Opor Ayam – Indonesian Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk

Selamat Hari Raya Aidul Fitri! How about cooking Opor Ayam, a Javanese chicken curry where chicken is braised in coconut milk, enhanced with the fragrance of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal, and topped with fried shallots. This tender chicken stew is going to leave your kitchen smelling wonderful! 

opor ayam javanese chicken curry

Watch how to make Opor Ayam video at the end of post for all recipe steps

Many may be shocked to know that until very very recently, I could not stand the smell of lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. Yes, the quintessential ingredients of Thai cuisine were big no no’s for me. All my friends would be excited about going to the new Thai restaurant, and I’d be there begrudgingly trotting along to go for my usual fried rice to minimise my exposure to lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

There were few exceptions to this rule, Beef Rendang being one of them (recipe coming soon), Tom Yum soup and Opor Ayam. I discovered Opor Ayam in an  Indonesian restaurant in Sydney and fell in love. The chicken was so tender, the curry so fragrant, and most importantly, not hot and spicy. It was the epitome of what a curry should be. I’ve been told that this dish is prominent in the Java area of Indonesia, and is popular during Eid, particularly Aidul Fitri (Eid marking the end of Ramadan).

So of course, I had to try recreate it and I think I got it quite close to the Opor Ayam I fell in love with! Slowly braising the chicken in coconut milk with a fragrant curry paste and an hour or so later I had a kitchen smelling of citrus and a tummy growling with happiness. Traditionally, candle nuts are used in this curry. I could not find them, so I used macadamia nuts instead. You could use cashews in its place but it won’t taste exactly the same. Make do with what nut you can source however, it will still taste great!

Opor Ayam braised chicken coconut milk

So without further ado, let’s get down to the cooking of this famous Javanese chicken curry, Opor Ayam. Hope you try making it this Eid or anytime for your family!

What’s your favourite Chicken Curry? Let me know in the comments!

Opor Ayam - Indonesian Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins

Opor Ayam is a Javanese chicken curry where the chicken is braised in coconut milk with a fragrant curry spice paste. Learn to make this chicken stew from scratch and wow your family!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 653 kcal
Author: Tamara at Foodieverse
Curry Spice Paste
  • 5 shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp chopped galangal
  • 4 candle nuts (or macadamia nuts)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black or white pepper
Chicken curry
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 medium sized chicken (cut into 8-10 pieces) (Around 1 kg / 2.2 lbs)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised (use the end of a knife to bruise the stalk)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp tamarind juice (or lime juice)
  • 500 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp fried shallots or fried onions (optional)
  • extra fried shallots/onions for garnish
  • sliced red chilli for garnish
Curry spice paste
  1. Blend all spice paste ingredients together and set aside. You may need 1 tbsp of water to make the blending easier.

  1. Marinade chicken pieces with 2 tbsp lemon juice for 15 minutes.

  2. Add oil to pan and add spice paste. Cook the paste for 1 minute until fragrant.

  3. Drain the chicken pieces and add to spice paste. Stir until well coated with paste.

  4. Add salt, sugar, tamarind juice and bay leaf. 

  5. Cook for 1 minute.

  6. Add lemongrass stalk and kaffir lime leaves.

  7. Add coconut milk.

  8. Bring to boil (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to low and cook for 35-40 minutes. Chicken should easily pull off from bone.

  9. Add 2 tbsp fried shallots / onions and cook for 2-3 more minutes. This step is optional.

  10. Serve and garnish with fried shallots and chilli. Serve with rice.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient substitutions:

  • Use 1 large onion or 2 medium onions instead of shallots
  • Replace galangal with more ginger 
  • Use 2 tbsp of lime juice instead of kaffir lime leaves
  • Use 1 tbsp of lemon juice instead of lemongrass stalk
  • Use macadamia or cashew nuts instead of candle nuts 
  • Use lime juice instead of tamarind juice 
Nutrition Facts
Opor Ayam - Indonesian Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk
Amount Per Serving (200 g)
Calories 653 Calories from Fat 477
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 82%
Saturated Fat 31g 155%
Cholesterol 120mg 40%
Sodium 729mg 30%
Potassium 703mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 3g
Protein 33g 66%
Vitamin A 4.5%
Vitamin C 12.8%
Calcium 6.2%
Iron 35.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Watch how to make Opor Ayam – Indonesian chicken Curry



 Opor Ayam Pinterest

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