Ayam Rica Rica (Indonesian chicken coconut curry) Recipe

Updated: Mar 15

It's time for my absolute favorite Indonesian meat dish 'Ayam Rica Rica'. And it is not only my favorite but also among my guests attending the Indonesian cooking workshops at Amsterdam Cooking Workshops. Rica or rica rica is a bumbu (spice paste) originating from Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The rica rica spice paste consists of a lot of chopped red chillies, Thai bird's eye chillies (cabe rawit), onions or shallots, garlic and ginger.

Ayam Rica Rica as found in Yogyakarta, Java

Apart from Manado, rica rica is popular in many Indonesian area's and especially in the city of Yogyakarta on Java you can find a lot of rica rica varieties. You can mix rica rica with almost any type of meat or fish but chicken rica rica is a favorite among Indonesians. I tasted some of the varieties and many of them are really hot, you can read about it in one of my previous posts. The ingredients of original bumbu spice paste of rica rica are ground using a pestle and mortar (cobek and ulukan) and then fried in (coconut) oil. Next, Kaffir lime leaves, bruised lemongrass stalks and pandan leaves are added.

Home-made Ayam Rica Rica with Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Acar Ketimun (pickled cucumber) and prawn crackers

Ayam Rica Rica is usually very hot due to loads of chillies but I prefer a different kind or rica rica which I use in my Indonesian cooking workshops. As an addition to the original recipe I add trassi shrimp paste (salty and savoury so you don't have to add salt separately), ground coriander, cumin and galangal, and coconut milk. Because the chicken thigh pieces are simmered in coconut milk, the dish will become less spicy and the spices give the dish a more refined flavor.


Ayam Rica Rica ingredients. Please note, these ingredients are for 1 or 2 persons.

For my coconut milk version of Ayam Rica Rica please see the list of ingredients for 4 persons below. First of all, make the bumbu spice paste. Cut onions or shallots, garlic, chillies, Thai bird's eye chilli (cabe rawit) in large chunks. Peel ginger piece with a teaspoon and grate. Combine aforementioned ingredients in a food processor and grind until a smooth paste (bumbu) forms.

Rica Rica bumbu spice paste

Heat oil (coconut or peanut) in a frying pan, wok or skillet (preferably cast-iron) and fry the bumbu spice paste together with the trassi shrimp paste and Kaffir lime leaves for a couple of minutes until fragrant, while stirring now and then.

Fry Rica Rica spice paste together with trassi and Kaffir lime leaves

In the mean time, pat the chicken thighs dry with kitchen paper and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add sambal chilli paste to the mixture, mix well and add chicken thigh pieces. Fry well for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the amount of chicken). The chicken pieces should be browned but not cooked through - this will happen later while the chicken is simmering in the rica rica spice paste with the coconut milk.

Chicken thigh pieces in rica rica spice paste

Add bruised lemongrass stalks, pandan leaf, coconut cream/milk and mix well.

Chicken thigh pieces with rica rica spice paste, bruised lemongrass, pandan leaves in coconut milk

Simmer on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked. The coconut milk will thicken and a rich and refined flavored mixture will be the end result. Taste whether the chicken is cooked but still tender.

Thickened rica rica chicken thigh mixture, ready to serve!

Remove Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stalks and pandan leaves before serving. Serve with steamed white rice (nasi putih) or fried rice (nasi goreng), pickled cucumber (acar ketimun), and prawn crackers (kerupuk).

Ayam Rica Rica with Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Acar Ketimun (pickled cucumber) and prawn crackers


Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 750 gr/1,65 pounds chicken thighs

  • 2 onions

  • 5 garlic cloves

  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised

  • 1 thick thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated

  • 5 Spanish chilli peppers + optional 1 Thai bird’s eye chilli (cabe rawit)

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander (ketumbar)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (djintan)

  • 1 teaspoon ground galangal (laos)

  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves (djeruk perut)

  • 1 teaspoon sambal (or another chilli paste)

  • 1 teaspoon trassi shrimp paste

  • 1 pandan leaf

  • 150 ml/0,5 cup coconut cream/milk

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil


Instructions

  • If using chicken thighs then cut the thighs in bite-sized pieces, 2x2 cm/ 1x1inch, cover and set aside.

  • Cut the onions, garlic cloves, chilli peppers and Thai bird’s eye chilli roughly. Grate the ginger, omit the filamentous parts.

  • Use a food processor to grind the onions, garlic cloves, chilli peppers, Thai bird’s eye chilli, ginger, ground coriander, cumin and galangal into a smooth paste (bumbu).

  • Heat oil in a (cast-iron) skillet/wok/frying pan and fry the bumbu paste together with the trassi (shrimp paste) and the Kaffir lime leaves for a couple of minutes until fragrant, while stirring now and then.

  • Add sambal chilli paste and mix well.

  • Add the chicken and fry well for around 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of your skillet. The chicken doesn’t have to be cooked through; this will happen later.

  • Add bruised lemongrass stalks, pandan leaf, coconut cream/milk and mix well.

  • Simmer on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked. Chicken should still be tender (not well-done).

  • Serve with steamed white rice (nasi putih) or fried rice (nasi goreng), pickled cucumber (acar ketimun), and prawn crackers (kerupuk).

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