Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

January 14, 2023

The most important Muslim festival, Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, is set to take place tomorrow.

As Malaysians, we celebrate all holidays (regardless of race or ethnicity) with food, food, and more food. This is why I invited Lisa from My Lemony Kitchen, one of my favorite Malaysian food bloggers, to share a classic Malaysian recipe with us: Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Creamy Spicy Tomato Sauce).

Whether you’re looking for Malaysian, Asian, Western, or even baking recipes, My Lemony Kitchen has it all.

“Selamat Hari Raya” or “Happy Eid” to all Muslim readers.

Bee of Rasa Malaysia invited me to write a guest article on her blog, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Bee, thank you…

I was thrilled but anxious as well. What should I make?

I’m not sure how to structure my post.

Bee and her gorgeous blog, Rasa Malaysia, are well-known in the food blogging community.

Bee’s suggestion of Ayam Masak Merah, or chicken cooked in a thick creamy, spicy tomato sauce, made things a lot easier for me.

In the extreme north of Malaysia, the province of Kedah, mentioning Ayam Masak Merah, quickly conjures up images of “traditional Malay marriages” and the Eid celebration known as “Hari Raya.”

Yes, in a typical Kedah household, Ayam Masak Merah is not regular.

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind dish, this is it. Served with Nasi Minyak or Savoury Rice with a fresh salad of cucumber, pineapple, chilies, and red onions (if using).

What is Ayam Masak Merah?

Although it shares certain fundamental identical spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and chilies) with Chicken Curry, Ayam Masak Merah has distinct flavors and a beautiful and unforgettable flavor. It has a distinctive taste and texture, whether in the chicken or the sauce.

The chicken pieces are seasoned with turmeric and salt before being deep-fried to a golden brown. After deep-frying, the stiffer the chicken is, the better it holds its juices.

The sauce is next poured into the mixture.

Adding a little spice from the chilies, a little sweetness and sourness from the tomato soup, and a slight creaminess from coconut milk gives the chicken its rich flavor.

On the occasion of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri or Eid Mubarak in Malaysia and other countries, For the festivities, Ayam Masak Merah could be one of your dishes of choice.

The average number of calories in one serving

  • Each serving of this recipe contains only 370 calories.

With this recipe, what are its complementary dishes?

The following recipes are great for a quick weeknight meal:


  • 5 lemongrass
  • 40 g (2 oz.) ginger
  • 3-inch cinnamon
  • 25 g (1 oz.) galangal, lengkuas
  • vegetable oil for deep frying plus ¼ cup extra
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (400 mL/13 ounce)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 cardamom
  • 2 pieces of 1kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces/chicken
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1 cup peas, optional
  • 2 red onion
  • 20 dried chilies, soaked


  1. ​​Rub the chicken with salt and turmeric. For the next 30 minutes, set aside. In a wok, deep-fried the chicken until it turns golden brown in color, turning once or twice. Set aside for now.
  2. Transfer the red onion, ginger, galangal, and lemongrass to a blender or food processor after being finely chopped. Incorporate chili peppers and garlic. Make a paste by pulsing the ingredients together.
  3. Add half a cup of oil to a wok and heat it up. Using a skillet, sauté the spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and cardamom) until they begin to smell fragrant. After that, add the paste that you’ve just mixed together. Lower the temperature after bringing the heat up to a point where the paste bubbles. Simmer until the paste is fragrant and the oil separates, indicating that it has finished cooking (pecah Minyak). Serve with coconut milk and chicken chunks from a can. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens about five minutes. Then add the peas and season with salt to your liking. Before serving, sprinkle some spring onion over the top.
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