Chicken in Spicy Lemongrass Sauce (Ayam Sambal Goreng Sereh)

This recipe for Indonesian-style lemongrass chicken is deliciously outstanding, as lemongrass chicken always is! And the lemongrass was grown in our garden to boot! 

The greatest thing about this lemongrass chicken is how many anti-inflammatory ingredients are included. I was just talking with my mom this morning about how food is medicine and this dish is a shining example of that. Between the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, galangal, and turmeric, this is a meal that is sure to please your belly and keep your body healthy and happy. 

To keep this dish on anti-inflammatory end, I served it up with a rice alternative that is made out of konnyaku flour and oat flour. Definitely not a bad substitute for white rice, I must say! Plus the calories were reduced by half, which means more chicken for me, yay!

If you’d like to learn more about Indonesian cuisine, check out this guide from Bookmundi about local must-try foods. It’s known to make tummies rumble!

Chicken in Spicy Lemongrass Sauce (Ayam Sambal Goreng Sereh)

Adapted from Daily Cooking Quest
Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric powder
10 birdseye chilies, or more to taste
3 shallots
3 cloves garlic
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only
2-inch piece galangal
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and knotted
1 cup light coconut milk
½ tbsp tamarind + 4 tbsp hot water, mixed well, strained
2 tbsp sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
Steamed coconut rice, to serve

In a large bowl, marinate chicken with salt and turmeric for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare spice paste by adding chilies, shallots, garlic, 2 lemongrass stalks (white pieces only), galangal, and turmeric to a food processor. Blend until the paste reaches a smooth consistency.

Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Fry chicken until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm.

In the same skillet, add spice paste and lemongrass, and fry until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, tamarind paste, sugar, and salt to the frying pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Return the chicken into the pan and cook until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is fully cooked. Serve over steamed coconut rice. 



One-Pot Indonesian Curry in less than 25 Minutes


My husband and I became acquainted with Indonesian food when we were students at UC Santa Barbara. We used to go out to brunch at a restaurant called Blue Dolphin, circa 2003-2005, which is now closed. Fortunately for us, when we arrived late for brunch one day, we discovered their Indonesian lunch menu and never turned back. This was our favorite menu item, erroneously called Goreng Ayam. After the restaurant closed down, we were surprised to learn that there is a dish called Ayam Goreng, a fried chicken dish, and that it is not this one. We were actually laughed at by several grocery store merchants who had no idea what we were talking about when we were searching for recipe tips. It took us a little while, but we finally found a way to replicate it when we came across a seasoning mix at Indochina Market in Goleta called Ayam Goreng by Kokita.

While we now know how to make the simmer sauce from scratch, we tend to still use the seasoning mix more often than not because it’s such a quick dinner and it’s so easy that we could make it in our sleep. If you’re interested in purchasing it, we purchase ours from Indo Food Store’s website, but if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to find it at a local market. Here’s our recipe below:


Indonesian-Style Chicken Curry

Serves 4

3 oz Ayam Goreng Seasoning Mix (about 1/4 jar)
1 cup water
2-3 sliced chili peppers (jalapeno and/or birdseye chiles)
1.5 lb chicken thighs
Cabbage, ½ head
Steamed rice, to serve

Add seasoning mix to a medium  saucepan and stir in water to thin. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add chilies and chicken and lower heat to medium. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with sliced cabbage.