Ayam Masak Merah

I have a huge weakness for ayam masak merah, which is chicken coated in a rich, tomato and honey sauce. Culturally in Malaysia, it is a Malay dish and they certainly do it very well. Whenever my parents dragged us to a Malay wedding, the only thing I look forward to is this (let me say now that Malay weddings are beautiful but for a kid, any weddings, no matter what cultural background, are boring). Come Hari Raya, my eyes skips to ayam masak merah. Lemang and rendang never really hits the spot.

Being here in Linköping, Sweden, I find it hard to get a good Asian meal. Ingredients are limited (as mentioned here) so I had to improvise. If you like the full recipe, you can go to Elaine’s blog: A Series of Kitchen Experiments.

Here’s my improvised version of Ayam Masak Merah:


Ayam Masak Merah
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 4
  • (A) for frying:
  • 5-6 chicken pieces
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • a pinch of pepper
  • Enough oil for deep frying/shallow frying
  • (B) for blending:
  • 1 large onion, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 5 red chilis, de-seeded
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp hot paprika (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon ground coriander (subst: ground basil)
  • (C) for sauce:
  • 1 large onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 x 400g can of chopped tomato
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch of ginger, chopped
  • ¼ tsp of ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp of ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup sultanas
  • 3 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt to taste
  1. Put all (except oil) of (A) in a ziplock bag. Shake the bag until all the chicken pieces are well coated. Let chicken marinate for 30 minutes
  2. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and fry until all sides are golden brown. Drain off the oil with paper towels and set aside.
  3. Blend all of (B) and set aside.
  4. Discard most of the oil used to fry chicken except for two tablespoons.
  5. In the same pan, sauté cardamom and cinnamon until fragrant (approx. 1-2 mins) on medium high heat.
  6. Add garlic, ginger and sultanas. Cook until sultanas plump up and then, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and blended ingredients (B).
  7. Sauté the sauce until it forms a thick paste then add the honey, lemon juice, raw sugar and salt.
  8. Stir in the chicken and onion into sauce. Combine well.
  9. Let the sauce thicken and reduce. Lower heat, cover the pan and continue cooking for about 15 minutes.
  10. Serve with white rice. Om nom nom!



  1. says

    Hiya Mable… can’t resist to comment after drooling over your plate (photo) in FoodGawker..
    This dish would make me do my ‘joget’ and jump up and down with excitement :D…

  2. says

    Yum! i cheat and use the instant paste packets when I miss home! Thanks for sharing the recipe, now I can attempt it independently! And I shall!

  3. Mable Tan says

    Mary: I know! Me too!
    Baobabs: I use those packets too for ‘lazy days’. If I can do it, you can do it! 😀

  4. says

    hi Mable,
    I tried this recipe last night. It came out wonderfully well. But was just wondering why I dint get the red colour like the one on the photos you’ve posted here.

  5. Mable Tan says

    Hi Bonzi,
    Thanks for trying it. I’m not sure if it could be the difference in tomato paste or I forget to say (sorry!) that I added a 1/4 tsp of hot paprika to the blended chilis.


  6. Mable Tan says

    Thanks for dropping by Swee San :) Ohhh yum, pappadums! I have to put that on the shopping list next!

  7. says

    I just tried this and it came out SO DELICIOUS! I really enjoy how you broke the recipe down into groups, it made it really easy to follow. Thanks for sharing such fantastic tastes!


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