This dish I currently fell in love with, when Yanna of Kuenya O Yan, one of my online buddies who sent me a black rice sponge cake when I went back to Indonesia last time posted this recipe on her site. Looking at the recipe I thought I can do most of the spices and should omit the rest of them. It's not every Indonesian spice can be found in the countryside as people can easily find beer or sheep. But then I was surprised that once my sister-in-law who lives in Auckland gave me a jar of whole nutmegs. And yet she said it was really hard to find them. I don't blame her.
Some ingredients like turmeric leaves and asam kandis are not familiar ingredients an Indonesian like me can find at local supermarkets in the countryside. I can deliberately substitute the asam kandis with tamarind paste, as it's similar to tamarind, only that it's not made from the same tree as tamarind paste.
Tamarind is called asam jawa in Indonesian. It is the paste made from tamarind fruit pulps. I can find tamarind paste in the Fruit World which is situated in Pukekohe, the heart of Franklin district. It's a good market, furthermore, they stock Asian groceries (You can find dried shrimps, rice vinegar, as well as canned straw mushrooms, baby corns, shiitake and other ingredients which can hardly find somewhere else) in their little shelves which are less expensive than the leading supermarkets. Pity, I always miss spring rolls wrappers whenever I reached the store.
Perhaps they should consider that there are more Asians living in Pukekohe now (there were 18 Asians, and only 7 Europeans celebrated our Citizenship Ceremony on 10 July 2006—yes, we were granted! And how many more Asians have been granted every couple of months?) who can't always travel 1-2 hours away to the Tofu shop in the North Shore or Lim's Supermarket in Mount Albert for a bag of melinjo crackers or dried shrimp paste. Or perhaps, not everyone cooks like mad as I do?
Anyway, Odilia Winneke and Rinto Habsari wrote in their book about Indonesian Spices says that asam kandis:
“Berasal dari buah yang bentuknya seperti jeruk limau, dengan kulit buah yang tipis. Kulit buah inilah yang kemudian dikeringkan hingga berwarna kehitaman. Cita rasanya asam pahit. Bisa dibeli di pasar tradisional...” [Odilia Winneke dan Rinto Habsari. Kamus Lengkap Bumbu Indonesia. PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama. Jakarta. 2001. p.13]
“It is made from a lime-like fruit with thin skin. This skin then dried to blackish finish. It has bitter-sour flavour. Can be bought in traditional markets...”
Well, then. I just did what I could and still enjoyed the result.
I just love thick mixed-spices on top of the chicken. The roasted and ground coconut makes this dish special and it adds richer flavour.
Just look at this yummy wing!!
We enjoyed it with warm jasmine rice and steamed vegetables. That what makes the flavour of the chicken can be enjoyed at its best. A bowl of sambal oelek as the condiment will be good.
Ayam Panggang (I call it Indonesian Exotic Spiced Roast Chicken)
The ingredients may run into a long list, but the finish product is simply well-worthed, delicious, and exotic!
Source: Yanna's Site, taken from Primarasa-Bingkisan Istimewa.
1 whole chicken (Yanna uses thighs, I used 1.5kg whole chicken),
4 Tbs oil (I used rice bran oil),
12 shallots (I used 1 large brown onion, finely chopped),
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced (I do them finely chopped),
1 Tbs chilli paste (I used 2 tsps sweet chilli sauce + ½ tsp ground chilli—and it doesn't make your mouth burned!),
3 lemon grass, use the white parts, bruised,
4 kaffir lime leaves,
1 turmeric leave, tie into a knot (omitted),
2 asam kandis (I used 1 tsp tamarind paste),
5cm whole cinnamon stick,
2 whole cloves,
750ml coconut milk (Usually, we buy one whole coconut, grate the whole coconut flesh then squeeze through a fine sieve to make fresh coconut milk),
grated coconut flesh from ¼ of whole coconut (I used 2 cups dried coconut), roast until golden brown and crisp then grind to make a paste
Make a spice paste:
3cm fresh ginger roots,
3cm galangal roots (I used 1 ½ tsp ground galangal),
1 Tbs coriander seeds,
½ tsp white peppercorns (I used mixed whole peppercorns),
¼ tsp cumin seeds,
¼ of whole nutmeg,
5cm fresh turmeric (I used 2 tsps ground turmeric)
Heat the oil in a frying pan (I used the one with a lid—skillet), add in the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until fragrant and soft, add in chilli paste, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, asam kandis, cinnamon stick, cloves, salt, and spice paste. Cook until fragrant. Put the chicken in, then add in coconut milk, coconut paste, mix well. (At this stage, I roast transferred the chicken into a roasting dish, then roast them until cooked). Cook further until cooked through and the sauce thicken, on a low heat. Char-grill the chicken, braised with the spices. (or Oven-baked the chicken at 180C until golden brown).