Opor Ayam

Opor ayam is one of the popular chicken curry in Indonesia/Malaysia/Brunei areas. Two common curry spices like chilli and turmeric are not required. This curry is fragrant with spices but not spicy hot and quite creamy with coconut milk. Quite easy to make once you have got the spice paste and whole spices ready. Very tasty with just plain rice or Malay pressed rice called lontong. I like this with pineapple curry (pajeri nanas).

To make this curry, either use one whole chicken cut into large chunks or use drumsticks and thighs pack.

This recipe will feed 4 – 5 people.


1 chicken around 1.25 – 1.5 kg cut into large chunks

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 small pcs cassia bark or cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 stalks of lemongrass, topped and tailed then bruised

4 – 5 kaffir lime leaves or 2 salam leaves (salam leaves are difficult to find where I am so I only use kaffir lime leaves). Leave leaves whole or lightly crushed.

about 2 tbsp tamarind juice (extracted from a small piece of wet tamarind with some hot water)

1 x 400 - 450ml tin coconut milk (or milk extracted from 1 coconut)

1 – 1.5 tsp salt

Spice paste:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp peppercorns (black or white)

140 - 150g shallots or red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 chunk galangal (about 25 - 30g), sliced
1 chunk ginger (about 25 - 30g), sliced
2 – 3 cloves garlic
5 - 6 candle nuts (kemiri or buah keras )
1 red chilli, cut into chunks (optional, I like this curry slightly hot. Not required if you don’t want to add chilli)

  1. Dry roast coriander, cumin, fennel and peppercorns for few minutes till fragrant. Then ground in a pestle and mortar or electric grinder till fine.
  2. Ground shallot (or red onion), galangal, ginger, garlic, candle nuts and chilli to a paste using pestle and mortar or electric mini blender. Mix with dry ground spices.
  3. Add a little oil to a wok or large frying pan. Heat till hot and fry chicken pieces till brown on the outside for few minutes. (Chicken does not have to be cooked through).
  4. Remove chicken and most of the chicken fat/oil leaving about 2 tbsp and add about 4 – 5 tbsp of coconut milk, stir fry ground spice paste and star anise and cassia bark for about 5 - 8 minutes or till fragrant. Keep the paste moving to prevent sticking.
  5. Add about 1 - 1.25 cup of water plus remaining coconut milk, lemongrass, tamarind and 1 tsp salt, let this liquid come to a boil. Add chicken pieces and simmer for about 25 minutes then add kaffir lime leaves. Continue simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes till chicken is done and sauce is slightly thicken. Taste and see if you need any more salt.


  1. Thanks for your recipe. My children love this style because it is not spicy.

    My grandaunt used to cook this but she used a lot of tumeric and onion and we named it Goo Poh (not opor) curry. Sometimes instead of coconut milk she used evaporated milk and some huge fresh tomatoes. that would again change the quality of the curry. The spices remain the same.

    Your curry really looks good. thanks.

  2. Thanks Sarawakiana. Curry is one of those recipe you can change the ingredients and still very tasty.

    Other than opor ayam another mild curry is kurma curry Malay style which is also very nice.


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