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Ayam Bumbu Rujak

Ovilia Marbun from Ireland

30 minutes
Cooks in
75 minutes
Country of origin

Yogyakarta has always been close to my heart. That was our first travel destination for my future husband and me back in 2002. We decided to visit the city because of the rich culture, friendly people and the various foods that he can try. Yogyakarta is the place where you can visit the ancient buildings built dating back to the 9th century like the magnificent Prambanan Temple and Borobudur Temple and you also can enjoy the unique shopping experience and urban life at Malioboro street. We travelled by train from Jakarta, which takes about 8 hours. By train he could see the rural life in Indonesia and also see the trees of which he only knew the fruits or the harvest.

Exploring the city with him was not just fun but he also taught me how to be a tourist: enjoying the different culture from my hometown, learning about the history and doing a lot of walking making me realize holiday is not just about shopping and eating! Most of food stalls in Yogyakarta serve the food “lesehan” (meaning sitting on the ground) and eating the food with your bare hand which is something that he wasn’t used to, so going to a restaurant is one of the alternatives to have an easy lunch for him. We couldn’t stop giggling during our “becak” (rickshaw) ride because of the awkward position that we were in as we needed to squeeze ourselves into it. I can’t imagine how shocked was he to see more than three people ride the motorcycle cruising the road.

One of the foods that we tried during our trip is this Ayam Bumbu Rujak; which is a break from the sweet taste of most Yogyakarta signature dishes. Grilled chicken is very popular in Java, and this is one of the kinds that are served in Yogyakarta. It’s almost similar with the one from East Java but using less spices and chilies. I found various recipe on the internet and modified it with the available ingredients over here.


  • 1 whole chicken (800-1000 gr)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, teared
  • 2 lemongrasses, bruised
  • 4 cm long galangal, bruised
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 red chilies (seeded if you don’t really like spicy food or add a couple of birds eye chilies if you like it more spicy)
  • 100 gr shallots
  • 25 gr garlic
  • 30gr candlenuts (you can substitute this with walnuts)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3gr tamarind, dissolved in 2tbsp water


  • Butterfly the chicken or cut it into 6 or 8 pieces if you like.
  • Drizzle the chicken with fresh lime juice and let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse the chicken and pat dry.
  • Preheat the oven at 200C.
  • Blend the chilies, shallots, garlic, candlenuts, turmeric into paste.
  • Heat the oil in the skillet and sauté the spice paste, bay leaves, lemongrass, galangal until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken to the skillet and cook it for 5 minutes, flip it over and cook it for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk, brown sugar,tamarind water, and salt; bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and continue to cook for 30 minutes until the chicken absorbs the sauce and the sauce is reduced and becomes oily.
  • Remove the chicken from the skillet and move it to oven rack.
  • Baste the chicken with the leftover sauce and roast for 15 minutes, basting the chicken with the sauce one more time and roast it for another 15 minutes.
  • Reserve the leftover sauce and pour the sauce when serving.
  • Serve the chicken with rice, vegetable salad (such as cucumber, baby spinach, cabbage) and sambal (Indonesian chilli sauce).


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