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Ayam goreng – How to make authentic Malaysian fried chicken

This recipe is about chicken on the bone marinated with dry spices, the authentic ayam goreng (fried chicken) served in the Indian Muslim restaurants in Malaysia.

If you expect it tastes closely to KFC or other fried chicken coated with batter, you will be surprised by the different flavors offered by the Malaysian ayam goreng. 

And of course, you need Malaysian curry powder, which is an indispensable ingredient to create a unique flavor.

So what do you expect? It is spicy, aromatic, full of curry flavor, and crispy for up to an hour.

I will show you how to make it in three simple steps. You will miss out on an amazing flavor if you skip this ayam goreng recipe. . 

Let’s get started.

Ayam goren (Malaysian fried chicken) is spicy, aromatic, full of curry flavor and addicitve. The Malaysian curry powder is the indispensable ingredient to create the unique flavor.

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How to make Malaysian ayam goreng 

As easy as ABC, there are only three steps involved in the process. 

1. Marinate the chicken 

Choice of chicken meat 

I would strongly suggest using the fresh chicken to prepare ayam goreng (and other fried chicken) due to two reasons:

  • The meat will become tougher if frozen. 
  • The bone of the frozen chicken will become darker after deep-frying. I do not know the science behind it, but that is my observation while working in the restaurant. We have to use fresh chicken each time because it is impossible to ‘cheat’ the customers.

You can reserve the frozen chicken for making stew dishes. Since the chicken is cooked with wet heat during stewing, the issue of getting tough and dry meat does not arise. 

Although I use drumsticks in the recipe., whole chicken thigh cut into large chunks is also popular in the local Mamak restaurants. 

How to marinate the chicken 

It is vital to ensure that the spices penetrate down to the bone to get the best result. Since the meat is thick, you can achieve it by:

  • Make some deep cuts at the thickest part of the chicken thighs/drumsticks. 
  • Rub the marinade into the deep cuts. 
  • Marinate at least overnight. 

The spices for ayam goreng 

The main ingredients 

  • The main ingredient of the marinade is Malaysian curry powder. The flavor is different if you use another type of curry powder. 
  • Garlic and ginger are the universal ingredients for fried chicken. You should mince them to release their flavor. Large pieces of ginger and garlic also tend to fall off from the chicken while deep frying. 
  • Chili powder is a must for any Malay-style dish. The amount required depends on the heat you can take, but two tablespoons should be the minimum acceptable amount for the locals. Some ayam goreng sellers may include artificial color to make it look redder, but I will leave that out in the recipe. The vibrant red color of Kashmiri chili powder is sufficient to make it appetizing without the coloring agent. Please note that the color of chili powder will turn dull over time, and fresh chili powder always produces a brighter color. 
  • Turmeric powder contributes to flavor and color. Please note that it has a natural yellow pigment. Therefore, I suggest using a glove to rub the spices into the chicken piece to avoid it from staining your hands. 

Other ingredients 

  • Coriander and cumin powders are optional. However, I use them to enhance the flavor further. 
  • Yogurt is acidic and therefore acts as a tenderizer. Besides that, it provides some moisture that helps bind the dry spices. It also contributes its flavor to the marinade. 
  • Curry leaves deliver their flavor and are also embedded in the crispy crust on the surface to give it a nice-looking appearance. Get the dried curry leaves if you can’t find the fresh ones.
  • The amount of salt is 1% of the chicken. Since the weight of the chicken is 1kg in this recipe, which means 10g of salt (2 tsp) of salt is the right amount required to season the meat. This calculation works for any recipes. 

Marinate the chicken ovenight

Since the meat of chicken thighs is thick, therefore marinating for half a day is insufficient. You will find that the meat close to the bone is tasteless, as the salt and spices have not reached the interior yet in half a day. 

The flavor for ayam goreng shouldn’t be only skin deep. That is why you need to marinate it at least overnight. 

How about using onion as part of the marinade? 

I do not use onion in the recipe, although it is part of the ingredients in some other recipes. 

My goal is to get a crispy exterior that lasts. Therefore, the marinade should contain a minimum amount of water. Although onion has plenty of flavors, it has to blend with water before adding to the chicken, wetting it too much and reducing the crunchiness of the ayam goreng. Therefore, I prefer to keep the marinade as dry as possible, adding only just two tablespoons of water just enough for the dry spices to form a very thick paste and adhere to the chicken. 

2. Coat the chicken with egg, flour, starch, and baking powder

Coat the chicken drumsticks with beaten egg and a mixture of all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder right before frying. 

The egg, flour, and cornstarch protect the chicken from receiving direct heat from the oil, preventing it from turning dry. The starch will crisp up the surface.  The baking powder helps expand the flour and starch coating during deep-frying, creating a larger surface area and letting the moisture escape quickly, forming a lasting crispy coating. 

Note: You can use rice flour to substitute all-purpose flour and potato starch instead of cornstarch to get the same result. 

Ayam goren (Malaysian fried chicken) is spicy, aromatic, full of curry flavor and addicitve. The Malaysian curry powder is the indispensable ingredient to create the unique flavor.

3. Deep-fry the chicken 

Always use high smoking point oil with neutral flavor to deep fry the chicken. Some of the popular oils are corn, peanut, cannula, and palm oil. 

How to deep fry ayam goreng 

  • Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and wait until it returns to room temperature before deep-frying. The interior of the chicken is still raw when the surface is crisp up and nicely brown if you deep-fry the cold chicken. 
  • Deep-fry over medium heat. The temperature is correct when you see bubbles rise from the wooden spatula dipped into the oil. 
  • Place the chicken drumsticks gently into the pan. Deep fry for six minutes undisturbed. The coating will fall off from the surface if you move them around before it sets. From my experience, the chicken will not stick to the pan. 
  • After six minutes, flip the chicken over and deep fry for another six minutes. This time you can turn them occasionally to ensure even cooking. 
  • Check the doneness by inserting a kitchen thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. The temperature should be at least 65°C/150°F. 
  • Remove the chicken and drain it on a paper towel. The remaining heat will cook through the chicken eventually. 

Use a pan to deep-fry at home

We deep-fried the chicken with an electric deep fryer in the restaurant, which requires two to three liters of oil to fill up the deep fryer. Obviously, this method is not practical for home cooking for sure. 

So I fill up a heavy saucepan (ten-inch in diameter) with two cups of oil, which is enough to fry four drumsticks each time without overcrowding them. As a result, I can finish deep-frying 1kg of chicken in two batches with much less oil than in the restaurant. 

What to do with the oil after deep frying? 

You can reuse it for other purposes! 

  • Let the oil pass through a wire mesh strainer to remove the large debris.
  • Now let the oil filter through the strainer once more by putting a paper towel on the strainer to filter the smaller particles. 

The oil is flavored with spices. I consider it is benifecial because it makes my other stir-fries more flavorful. 

How to serve ayam goreng 

Ayam goreng can be a meal by itself or be part of the array of choices for nasi kandar (rice served with curry, meat, and fried chicken). It tastes lovely even after half a day, but of course, best when it is still crispy. The coating is crispy for up to an hour with the use of cornflour and baking powder. However, you should have already gobbled down all the chicken long before that.

Let’s try other Malaysian dishes 

If you like this Malaysian ayam goreng, you will most likely enjoy other authentic Malaysian cuisines. Here are my picks:

Kapitan chicken is truly a Malaysian curry. The unique flavor of this Nyonya chicken dish is the result of the complex interplay of a myriad of herbs and spices.

Nasi Lemak is the breakfast staple in Malaysia. This drool-worthy, gluttonous gem is offered in almost every local Malay and Mamak restaurant. It’s rice cooked with coconut milk and spices.

If you are living in Malaysia, you must have heard of the famed Ipoh shredded chicken noodles. Reserve any chicken bones and shrimp shells to make the broth for the noodles. The flavor is incredible. 

Yield: 7 drumsticks

Ayam goreng

ayam goreng square 200

This recipe is about chicken on the bone marinated with dry spices, the authentic ayam goreng (fried chicken) served in the Indian Muslim restaurants in Malaysia. 

If you expect it tastes closely to KFC or other fried chicken coated with batter, you will be surprised by the different flavors offered by the Malaysian ayam goreng. 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients A

Ingredients B

Instructions

  1. Make some deep cuts at the thickest part of the chicken drumsticks. 
  2. Mix the marinade A with the chicken, especially rub it into the deep cuts. 
  3. Marinate overnight.
  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and wait until it returns to room temperature.
  5. Coat the chicken drumsticks with beaten egg and a mixture of all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder right before frying. 
  6. Deep-fry over medium heat for six minutes undisturbed. 
  7. After six minutes, flip the chicken over and deep fry for another six minutes. Turn them occasionally to ensure even cooking. 
  8. Check the doneness by inserting a kitchen thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. The temperature should be at least 65°C/150°F. 
  9. Remove the chicken and drain it on a paper towel. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

7

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 849mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 36g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 6/7/2021

Abby Lew Tong

Friday 11th of June 2021

Hi KP Kwan,

Is it possible to oven bake this chicken and get similar results? If so, what temperature and how long would you bake the chicken for?

Abby

KP Kwan

Saturday 12th of June 2021

I have never done that before, so I am not able to answer. I believe it can, but the result is different. The chicken is cooked in oil during deep-frying, and the heat contacts the surface of the chicken instantly. In the case of an oven (or air-frying), the heat comes gradually. I am eager to know the difference also.

KP Kwan

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

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