recipe: turmeric (air)fried chicken

fried turmeric chicken airfryer recipe

Turmeric Fried Chicken (in Malaysian language: Ayam Goreng Garam Kunjit) comes straight from the birthplace of Mr. Orientespresso: the state of Kelantan in Northern Malaysia. For years, HW almost broke into tears when waxing lyrical about this special friend chicken from his hometown Kota Bahru, combining a fiery yellow colour and the aroma from the turmeric with the most delicate smell of coconut. The question obviously followed: can we make this here? What’s the recipe?

Of course – a great common point for both Malaysians and Italians – we turned to the Family! 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. As there were no actual quantities written down (another similarity: family cooks and measuring do not get along well, in Italy or Asia) we had to experiment, cut some hard to find ingredients and fiddly cooking bits before settling on this recipe – so feel free to tweak and experiment too!

malaysian fried chicken recipe

the marinade ingredients – turmeric is a superfood with great antioxidant properties

authentic malaysian recipe

wear gloves when dealing with turmeric or be prepared to yellow fingers!

A staple of South-East Asia cooking, Turmeric is now very in vogue in the West too – apparently, it has anti-inflammatory and even anti-carcinogenic properties. It is worth looking for fresh turmeric roots over the powdered ones as they really lift the dish to another level.

This is traditionally fried in vegetable fat, but we find it easier and healthier to use our Philips Airfrier (see recipe for details) – no worries if you don’t have one, you can fry or also bake this.

ayam goreng recipe

You can serve this over banana leaves with fried or plain rice – a scenic presentation ideal for a dinner party – or simply with a crunchy salad, that will help cut the richness nicely.  If you have any leftovers, they make a wonderful fried rice, but we bet you won’t be able to resist eating every bit on the spot…


Turmeric Spicy Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 4
  • Ingredients:
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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".
  3. 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!)
  4. 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.
  5. Cooking:
  6. 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.
  7. OR
  8. 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 ;)


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