Chef Philip’s Ayam Buah Keluak

“No measurements when you tumbok or grind rempah in those days. Just agak-agak, by feeling.”

– Chef Philip

Ayam Buah Keluak

Cooking oil 4 Tbsp
Chicken 1, about 1.3 kg (2 lb 14
oz) cut into pieces of desired size
Tamarind pulp 120 g (4¼ oz), mixed with 1 litre (32 fl oz / 4 cups) water and strained

Buah Keluak

Buah keluak (Indonesian
black nuts)
Minced pork 150g (5
Peeled small prawns 300 g (11 oz)
Sesame oil 1 Tbsp
Light soy sauce 1 Tbsp
Sugar 2 Tbsp


Candlenuts 6-8
Galangal 6-8 slices
Lemon grass 2 stalks, ends trimmed, cut into short lengths
Turmeric 5-6 slices
Shallots 300 g (11 oz), peeled
Kaffir lime leaves 6-8

Roasted prawn (shrimp) paste (belacan) 3 tsp
Dried chilli paste
2 Tbsp

Learn how to prepare Buah Keluak Nut and Rempah in this step-by-step guide! 

  1. To prepare buah keluak, soak nuts for 3 to 5 days, changing water twice daily. Before cooking, crack the nuts open with a pestle and extract their kernels.
  2. Blend nut kernels, minced pork, peeled small prawns, sesame oil, and season with light soy sauce and sugar to taste. Stuff buah keluak paste into nut shells.
  3. With a mortar and pestle or blender, grind all rempah ingredients into a paste. Scrape the sides of the mortar with a crushed lemongrass stalk.
  4. Heat oil in a wok or pot, add rempah and the lemongrass. Fry until fragrant.

(Optional) Tear kaffir lime leaves sideways and add for fragrance.

  1. Add chicken parts of choice to stir fry, followed by tamarind juice.
  2. Boil and simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Remove the meat to prevent overcooking, before adding the stuffed buah keluak to boil for 10 to 12 minutes, covered.
  3. Add salt and sugar to taste. Serve hot with rice or enjoy as is!

Recipe adapted from Chef Philip Chia’s book ‘Peranakan Heritage Cooking’ (2012) published by Marshall Cavendish.