Kari Ayam (or “chicken curry” in Bahasa, Indonesia’s most common spoken language) is my absolute favorite dish we had in Bali!
We had this dish while staying at Le Pirate on Gili T. The server had recommended it and at first, based on the description, it didn’t sound like what I wanted at the time, but the next night I decided, what the heck, let’s give it a try. I was so glad I did! I ended up ordering it again the next night.
It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before and is one of those recipes that stuck in my head so bad that when we came home, I went on a mad dash to find the recipe so I could make it. Every few weeks I will catch a craving for it and have to make it.
When I started scouring the internet for a Kari Ayam recipe, I couldn’t find one that was exactly like what I had at Le Pirate. So I reviewed a few different recipes and created my own version that had long beans like the one I had in Bali.
Kari Ayam is unlike Indian curry dishes; in fact, it doesn’t even have curry seasoning. Just turmeric, ginger, shallots, and some other great spices. You can make it as spicy or mild as you like.
This recipe is broken up into a few steps. I prefer to chop all my veggies, potatoes, and chicken first. That way, they are ready to go once you start cooking. Next, make the spice paste. I use my Vitamix, but I think it would be better to use a food processor if you have one. Be ready to cry from the blended shallots!
One ingredient I guarantee you will not be able to find in a grocery store is candlenuts. Yes, I know, what the heck are those? I said the same thing! They are a type of tree nut that grows in Indonesia and India. I went to several Asian and international markets looking for them and finally found them on Amazon! (What would we do without Amazon Prime?) The recipe only calls for four nuts, so I have been keeping them in the freezer and pull out two when I am going to make Kari Ayam.
This dish is great in the winter since it’s almost like a soup. It has a very cozy feeling. I always double it to make extras so I can freeze some for leftovers.
Give this recipe for Kari Ayam a try and let me know if you love it as much as I do!
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 russet potato
- 3 carrots
- 2 1/2 cups cut long beans or green beans
- 1 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 13 oz Cans of full fat coconut cream
- Water as needed
- 4 whole shallots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 candlenuts
- 3 inch piece of ginger around 1oz, reference photo
- 2 inch piece of turmeric around .75oz, reference photo
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 red chili or more if you like spicy, but beware, these little chilis pack a punch!
Chop: Cube your potato and cut your green beans into 2-3 pieces and carrots either into disks or 2 in wedges. Wash and cut chicken thighs into pieces and set aside. Slice one shallot thinly and set aside. (I use a mandolin for cutting the shallot)
Spice paste: Put your remaining 3 shallots in the blender or food processor along with garlic, candlenuts, ginger, turmeric, coriander, turmeric powder, salt, cumin, and chili. Blend until everything is incorporated and has a paste-like consistency.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large pot on low. Once hot, add bay leaves, and lemongrass to the oil and heat until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. Next add the spice paste to your pot, stir frequently so it doesn’t burn or stick to the pot. Cook on low for about 10 mins so the flavors can open up. Add your chicken and cook until it is no longer pink.
Add your carrots, potatoes, beans, and coconut cream. Add water if needed. The ingredients should be almost covered by the broth. Simmer in a covered pot for 35 – 40 mins until your chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft.
Heat remaining coconut oil in a small pan. Let it get hot, then add your thinly-sliced shallots. Fry until golden and remove onto a paper towel. (These will top the dish.)
To serve, I put a scoop of brown rice in a bowl and ladle the Kari Ayam on top, then top with fried shallots. Enjoy!