For the uninitiated, “ayam” means chicken in Malay. Easy enough. And “lodeh“…hmmm….how do I even translate that? I’m scratching my head thinking about it, and, really, really, what in the world is this word “lodeh“?
Honestly, I haven’t got a clue but I can tell you that this lodeh is one hell of a dish. It is usually associated with Javanese cuisine, a gravy, curry like vegetable dish in coconut milk soup; one that is very popular in Indonesia and amongst the Malay community in Asia. Except that it is usually made with an assortment of vegetables and commonly referred to as “Sayur Lodeh“. Sayur literally means vegetables in Malay.
This time, I thought I’d muck around with it by using meat instead of vegetables just to see how it would turn out. I figured it would not be so bad, because the gravy itself is quite flavourful. The traditional recipe usually has shrimp/shrimp paste in it, and is the one ingredient which I did not use. Otherwise, everything else goes and this goes well with practically anything. The use of galangal makes all the difference in taste for this dish, and therefore is a crucial ingredient.
Rinse the chicken breasts. Rub the tumeric powder all over the chicken and mix them together with a pinch of salt.
Lightly fry the tumeric-salted chicken in hot oil until they get a little browned. Set aside and drain off excess oil on a paper towel.
Blend chillies, tumeric,garlic, shallots and coriander powder. Set aside.
Heat oil and fry the blended ingredients until browned and fragrant.
Add in the stock cube. Then the coconut milk, galangal and bay leaf.
Stir and bring to boil.
Add in the chickens that were fried earlier.
Add sugar and salt to taste.Return to boil. Add water if you want a thinner soup.
Turn off heat.
Serve hot with rice.
Save time by blending the ingredients together when you are frying the chicken. Alternatively, you can choose not to use tumeric powder on the chicken and fry them (less flavourful), but just add the raw chicken right after frying in the blended ingredients.
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My original Sayur Lodeh recipe can be found here. It is all vegetable goodness! And if you happen to be a vegetarian, just don’t use the animal stock and you are good to go.