How to Make Opor Ayam

Opor ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk) is one of many Indonesian dishes from Central Java. Most families serve opor ayam and ketupat (rice cake in woven palm leaf pouch) to celebrate Lebaran (Idul Fitri, or Eid). For more everyday occasions, you can spot opor ayam in a nasi gudeg meal set where the chicken is served with steamed white rice, gudeg (young jackfruit sweet stew), and sambal goreng krecek (crispy beef skin and chili stew).

Opor ayam is a child-friendly dish

Opor ayam is very mild compared to many Indonesian dishes. It has no chilies, making this dish very children friendly. I myself remember how this is one of my favorite dishes when I was a child myself. Although many Indonesian serve opor ayam as part of a set rice meal, it is by no mean a must. It is perfectly acceptable to serve opor ayam with nothing else but a bowl of steamed white rice. A side of sambal bajak or sambal terasi is, of course, a welcome addition to those who do love a bit of chili kick.

Opor Ayam

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Serves: 4-8


  • 1 chicken, cut into 4-8 pieces (or use 8 chicken drumsticks)
  • 1 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), cut and bruised
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • 500 ml water
  • 200 ml coconut milk (Indonesian: santan)
  • fried shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah goreng), for garnish (optional)
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 100 gram shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
  • 4 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
  • 5 candlenut (Indonesian: kemiri) (or 8-10 macadamia nuts)
  • 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds (Indonesian: biji ketumbar)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (Indonesian: biji jinten)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste


  1. Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a pot and stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add lemon grass, bay leaf, and kaffir lime leaf and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  4. Add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 20 minutes. Add salt and/or sugar as needed.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fried shallots.