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A Malaysian recipe: Turmeric Fried Chicken (Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit)

Introducing “Recipes” on IntoTheFWorld: although I do cook a lot at home (hard to believe with how much I eat out, I know), I rarely feel any of those day-to-day dishes deserves to be written down in the blog as a recipe. Also, I don’t really have recipes as such as I am a very chaotic cook who likes improvisation and imitation of something I ate somewhere…with a personal twist. Even  when I do cook from a recipe, it’s usually not mine to share as it comes from a cookbook. But it is a different case for those “family recipes” – like the Italian pizza I posted about a few weeks ago…I got great feedback and it is now my intention to publish more of these from both sides of my family- the Italian and the Malaysian. Both cuisines are wonderful and are often misunderstood or misinterpreted abroad, so there is a bit – dare I say it? – of an educational purpose as well?

So without further ado, let’s go on to the recipe for TFC- aka “Turmeric Salt Fried Chicken” or “Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit”. It is a wonderfully tasty dish which will appeal even to people who are usually reluctant to try spicy food as the flavours are very delicate and there is no chilli. Also, for a Malaysian recipe it is relatively easy to make (no 25-ingredients curry paste, hooray!).
fried turmeric salt chicken


The idea of making Ayam Goreng Garam Kunjit, a dish typical from the state of Kelantan in Northern Malaysia, was born from a conversation with May, who runs a fabulous Malaysian supperclub. My boyfriend almost broke into tears when waxing lyrical about this special friend chicken they make in his hometown Kota Bahru combining a fiery yellow colour and the aroma from the turmeric with the most delicate smell of coconut. May asked for a recipe and we realised we didn’t really have one.

A few days of emails, Skype calls on an 8-hour time zone difference and consultation with Malaysian aunties scattered around the world, and the skeleton of a recipe was finally available. No quantities, of course (quantities are a concept some traditional family cooks do not seem to be familiar with) so we had to experiment a bit before being able to share the recipe. And happy guinea pigs we were…Here’s the result of our (erm…)cooking and tasting  “efforts”- hope you will like it!


Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit recipe (Fried Chicken with Salt and Turmeric)


  •  800/1000 gr chicken drumsticks,  tights and wings, bones in, skin on or off as you prefer (I leave most on but trim away excess fat).

Get the best chicken you can afford, it makes all the difference!

  • 2 thumb-sized fresh turmeric pieces, peeled and chopped
  • 5-7 small shallots (I used the small round Vietnamese type)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Sarawak peppercorns (10/12)
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 4 tbs coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoon coconut butter
NOTE: turmeric has a VERY bright orange/yellow colour and will stain most surface including porous plastic, earthenware and china – so make sure you wear an apron, your oldest clothes and that you don’t use any container which can be stained. A glass bowl is perfect.
  • Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a blender (or pound by hand if you have patience). We don’t have a food processor but just an immersion hand mixer and it worked well, adding the coconut bit by bit to make the paste more “blendable”.
  • Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl, cover with the paste and rub the marinade into the pieces and under the skin if you are leaving it in (really rub it in properly- you may want to wear disposable gloves for doing this!)
  • Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight or for as long as you can- even a couple hours will do the job, but the longer the better.
  • Deep-fry the chicken in batches in plenty of vegetable oil. Fry similar size pieces together and make sure there’s no pink flesh left. Rest over kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.


  • We used a Phillips air-frier, setting it to 14 minutes at 220′ for the bigger pieces and to 12 minutes for drumsticks and wings. It saves us (and the neighbors)  from the fried oil smell, doesn’t start the fire alarm and is supposedly healtier ;)
Serve over banana leaves with fried or plain rice (very scenic, ideal for a dinner party) or a crunchy iceberg salad (pictured above).
Try to have any leftovers as they make a wonderful fried rice…but honestly it’s hard to resist to “just another little piece” of this beauty!

I hope you enjoyed my (not really mine- credit goes to the BF’family) recipe for Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit and I hope that you will be trying to make Turmeric Fried Chicken soon.

Do you know another recipe or have a variation on this? Let me know in the comments 



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  1. Good old garam kunyit. It goes great with beef too, by the way!

    • ooohh, good to know thanks! Will try out very soon. Should I cube the beef? Any recommended cuts?

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