Ayam Taliwang - spicy Indonesian chicken

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AyamTaliwang by SohaileeJohari

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Ayam Taliwang - spicy Indonesian chicken

Ayam Taliwang is my favourite dish and one I learnt at a private cooking class in Indonesia (more on this below).

It might just be the most underrated dish ever! Sadly, in many parts of the western world, Indonesian cuisine remains vastly unknown.
To be honest, I don’t know why, because the moment I first had an Indonesian dish, I was blown away. The flavours are reminiscent of what you will know as southeast Asian, i.e. Thai or Vietnamese, and yet I found them to be richer and more diverse.

When we first traveled to Indonesia, we could barely believe the variety of flavours and aroma pairings that we were met with, and within the span of a few days, Indonesian cuisine has made it from ‘not on our radar at all’ to our all time favourite.
That’s right, I think it might even beat Thai and Italian.

Just look at Nick’s excitement when presented with Ayam Taliwang with Urap Sayur and rice (for the third day in a row - we have no regrets).
As you can see, it always varies a bit in looks, even at restaurants. So don't worry if your Taliwang sauce looks a bit different, too.


What is Ayam Taliwang?

'Ayam' is the Indonesian word for ‘chicken’, and it’s ubiquitous in so many delicious dishes all over the country.
All the chicken we saw were ‘free range deluxe’, as in running wild (on streets etc). They are smaller than the industrially farmed chicken we are used to in the western world, but definitely more flavourful.
Taliwang is the name of a region where the dish originates.

Now, what IS Ayam Taliwang actually? It’s a grilled chicken (leg, typically with bone in) that is served with the most amazing sauce mainly consisting of chilies, nuts and coconut milk.

This dish is free of dairy, gluten, carbs and low in calories, too!

Cooking Ayam Taliwang in your home will take under half an hour to prepare and serve.

During our time in Indonesia, we had this dish almost every day and we asked the chef of the hotel we stayed at to please teach us how it is cooked.

He obliged and taught us some of our favourite Indonesian recipes: Urap Sayur, Ayam Taliwang, Soto Ayam and Opor Ayam. I have already uploaded my Urap Sayur recipe here, which is my favourite and the best side to serve Ayam Taliwang with, and I will try to upload the other recipes soon, too.

Cooking class in Indonesia

So that's us with Chef Ahmad at the Puri Mas Beach Hotel in Lombok, after a very successful lesson in Indonesian cuisine.

What to serve Ayam Taliwang with?

We had Ayam Taliwang several times in Indonesia - it was always served with plain rice and Urap Sayur.

When we make it at home, I usually just skip the rice and just serve it with Urap Sayur.
Or we make my Chinese fried rice (just without the chicken), which is very reminiscent of the Indonesian Nasi Goreng.

You can also simply make the Taliwang sauce and serve it to just about any grilled or fried meat, fish or as a condiment to vegetables.

Ayam Taliwang with Urap Sayur

Ayam Taliwang with Urap Sayur

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Let's double check: chicken, chilli and coconut milk - that's the beginning of a great dish. Ready for your culinary trip to Indonesia? Then let's grab our aprons, I'll see you in the kitchen. I'm curious as to your thoughts - let me know them in the comments below.
And as always: recipe sharing is caring.
Xoxo Rena

Ayam Taliwang - spicy Indonesian chicken

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Learn how to make an Indonesian grilled chicken (leg, typically with bone in) that is served with the most amazing sauce mainly consisting of chilies, nuts and coconut milk in under 30 minutes! This dish is free of dairy, gluten, carbs and low in calories, too!

Fact Sheet

Category: main Cuisine: Asian Dairy free Gluten free Low calorie Low carb Low fat Main Dishes under 1 hour under 30 minutes Meat dishes Cooking Method: frying Diet: Gluten Free Low Calorie Low Carb Low Fat Low Lactose Preparation Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes Servings: 2


  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 40g candle nut (substitute with cashew or macadamia)
  • 2 fresh fresh red chili peppers (mild), cut in half
  • 2 dried red chili peppers, whole
  • 1 shallot, peeled, cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • 2 TBSP coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Tsp shrimp paste or 1 tsp fish sauce
  • salt and pepper


  1. heat oil over medium-high heat, add shallot and garlic, sauté for 1-2 minutes
  2. turn heat down to low-medium, add the nuts and chilli peppers, sauté while continuously stirring for 3-4 minute
  3. Cooking Ayam Taliwang
  4. turn heat down to low, stir in the shrimp paste or fish sauce
  5. add the coconut milk, simmer on low for 5 minutes
  6. in the meantime, pan fry (or grill) your chicken
  7. after 5 minutes, blend the sauce until smooth
  8. Serve together. That’s it! Congratulations, you have just whipped up a fabulous main dish in less than 30 minutes! A perfect side dish for Ayam Taliwang is my quick and easy Urap Sayur (vegetables and coconut)
  9. Ayam Taliwang with Urap Sayur
Bon appetit


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