Roasted coconut chicken


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

Roast chicken gets the spice treatment. The flavour is authentically Indonesian, the method not, but I think you’ll love it nonetheless. The bird is bathed in a silky coconut sauce, which thickens and caramelises in the oven forming an irresistible burnished crust.


  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) chicken
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 400 ml ( cups) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons dark palm sugar (gula jawa)

Bumbu spice paste

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 large red chillies, half seeded and chopped
  • 2 lemongrass sticks, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 cm ( inches) turmeric, peeled, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Find a roasting dish in which the chicken sits reasonably snuggly, just a little room around the edges to hold the sauce. Put the bird inside and paint the skin with tamarind paste. Leave to come up to room temperature whilst you make the bumbu.

Grind all the bumbu ingredients to a paste in a food processor. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the bumbu for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the rawness is replaced with fragrance.

Paint the chicken all over with some of the bumbu, adding a spoonful inside the cavity. Keep the rest of the bumbu in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

Add the coconut milk and palm sugar to the excess bumbu in the pan. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while. Pour over the chicken.

Roast for 1 hour, or until the chicken is golden and when you stick a knife between the leg and breast, it is just the palest pink (it will finish cooking as it rests). Baste with the coconutty juices occasionally as the chicken cooks to help keep it succulent.

Remove the chicken from the dish and leave to rest somewhere warm for 20 minutes. Spoon off and discard the oil from the roasting dish sauce. Serve the rest with the chicken.