Indonesian-Style Coconut Chicken

One of the great pleasures of visiting Indonesia is eating its rich and exotic foods. As in Chinese cuisine, the wok is widely used, hut Indonesians also use spices and combinations distinctly un-Chinese. Like many nations in South-east Asia, Indonesia has Chinese influences, but their unique culture makes their food different from that of China.

Here is a delicious recipe that I have adapted from my many visits to Jakarta. This dish re-heats well and, served with rice, can easily make a hearty meal.


  • 900 g (2 lb) chicken thighs with bone in
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 175 g (6 oz) onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 400 ml (15 fl oz) tinned coconut milk


Blot the chicken dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat to low. Add the chicken skin-side down and slowly brown on both sides. Remove the chicken and drain on kitchen paper.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and fat. Then add the onions, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then add the cumin, coriander, lemon zest, soy sauce, water, salt and coconut milk. Return the chicken to the sauce, turn the heat to as low as possible, cover and braise for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Transfer to a warm platter and serve at once.