Roast or Grilled Chicken Padang Style

Singgang Ayam

A standard, everyday method of preparing and cooking chicken in West Sumatra. Very good for a barbecue, but also good for roasting in the oven. Allow half a chicken per person with rice, potatoes, or pasta and some salad.


  • 2 free-range chickens, each weighing about 1.5 kg/3–3½ lb, cut in half lengthways, all the fat trimmed off and some of the bones removed

For the Paste

  • 4 shallots or 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1–3 large red chillies
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped galingale or ½ tsp powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp water

Other Ingredients

  • 570 ml/1 pint/ cups chicken stock
  • 1 stem lemon grass, cut into 3 lengths
  • 1 turmeric leaf (optional)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 570 ml/1 pint/ cups very thick coconut milk
  • Salt to taste


Put all the ingredients for the paste in a blender, and blend until smooth. Then transfer the paste to a largish saucepan, bring to the boil, and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken halves and 4 tablespoonfuls of the thick coconut milk, and stir the chicken around so that all the pieces are coated with the paste. Now add the stock, and all the other ingredients except the coconut milk. Bring everything back to the boil, then turn down the flame a little. Cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes.

Uncover the pan and add the coconut milk. Give everything a little stir, and continue simmering for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning. Up to this point the whole thing can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. If you are doing this, take out the chicken halves from the sauce and leave them to get cold. Keep the sauce in a bowl and refrigerate when cold.

When you are ready to serve, grill the chicken on the barbecue for about 6 minutes each side, or roast in a pre-heated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15–20 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. To serve, either pour the sauce equally on top of each half-chicken, or put it in a bowl and ask your guests to help themselves.