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Ayam Goreng Ungkep (Indonesian Fried Chicken)

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Ayam Goreng Ungkep or Indonesian Fried chicken is braised in rich spices and herbs, then deep-fried or baked until crispy. The infused chicken has so much flavor and aroma that keeps you get addicted.

ayam goreng ungkep indonesian fried chicken

What comes to your mind when you think of fried chicken? Many associate fried chicken with deep-fried chicken pieces with the crispy seasoned craggy crust. However, today’s fried chicken is different from the western fried chicken you know because this dish ditches the heavy, floury breading for a heady spice mixture.

There are actually countless variations of Indonesian fried chicken. However, this Ayam Goreng Ungkep or also known as Ayam Goreng Kuning (Yellow Fried Chicken) is one of the most popular variations in Indonesia. The blend is different depending on the region. The yellow seasoning is satisfyingly spot on- strong but not outrageously overpowering – the marinated flesh is tender and juicy inside and crispy the deep golden skin is sheer perfection. You can’t go wrong with fried chicken.

What is Ayam Goreng Ungkep?

Ayam Goreng Ungkep is a traditional Indonesian-style fried chicken. “Ayam goreng” translates to fried chicken and “ungkep” in Javanese means braising. The chicken is first braised in aromatic spices and herbs for some time prior to frying, for the chicken to absorb the spices. Then, the chicken is fried in oil until golden brown and the skin is crispy. 

Marinating while heating the chicken in ground spices ensures the spices are locked in. With this method, the seasonings get embedded into the chicken instead of the batter. In addition, you don’t have to worry about the uncooked chicken because the chicken pieces are already cooked when you fry them.

ayam goreng ungkep indonesian fried chicken

The Ingredients You Need

ayam ungkep (indonesian fried chicken) spices
  • Chicken –Ayam Goreng Ungkep usually uses skin-in, bone-in whole chicken that is cut into several pieces. If you are a vegan, you can also substitute the chicken with tofu and tempeh.
  • Coconut water or water – Use coconut water to add more depth and flavor instead of normal water. 
  • Coriander seeds – These seeds fall into the warm/sweet spice category, with a mild citrusy and woody flavor
  • Candlenuts – Candlenuts are used in cooking as a thickener. If you can’t find any, substitute with macadamia nuts or cashew nuts.
  • Garlic – For aromatic flavor and aroma.
  • Shallots – Shallots used in Southeast Asian cuisine tend to be small with a red exterior and white interior. Unlike western shallots which tend to be larger, Indonesian shallots are small and sweeter in flavor. The individual cloves resemble garlic cloves with pointed tapered ends.
  • Galangal – Galangal has a similar appearance to ginger but has a different aroma and color. It tastes spicy and peppery. 
  • Ginger – It gives a warm, sweet aroma and a hot, biting flavor to the dish.
  • Turmeric – Fresh turmeric is the star ingredient in the bright-yellow paste. It looks a bit like ginger on the outside and is bright orange on the inside. If you can’t find fresh turmeric, you can also use turmeric powder.
  • Salam leaves – Salam leaves are often called Indonesian or Indian bay leaves. However, salam leaves are totally different from bay leaves as they are from an unrelated family of plants. They smell distinguishably different. Therefore, I suggest you skip salam leaves if you can’t get hold of it.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – They are used to add earthy citrus flavors to the food. 
  • Lemongrasses – Gives a citrus-like aroma to the dish. 
  • Seasonings – Salt and sugar for taste.
  • Cooking oil – For deep-frying.

How to Make Ayam Goreng Ungkep

how to make ayam goreng ungkep indonesian fried chicken
  1. Simply grind all the spices into a pestle and mortar, or spice grinder, or immersion blender with a little bit of water to form a paste.
  2. Stir fry the paste with lemongrasses, kaffir lime leaves, and salam leaves until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and mix until they are covered in spices. Then, add water and let it boil. Season with salt and sugar for taste.
  4. Close the lid and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes to lock in the spices into the chicken. When the chicken is fully marinated, you can immediately fry or bake the chicken or store the leftovers for the next few days.
  5. Drain the chicken and deep-fry in oil. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. Fry 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. You can also bake the chicken if desired.
  6. Best eaten with steaming rice and Sambal Terasi (shrimp paste chili sauce).
ayam goreng ungkep (indonesian fried chicken) with rice and sambal terasi

Make in Bulk and Store for Later

Make this Ayam Goreng Ungkep in several batches and freeze for easy midweek meals. Once you are done braising the chicken, let it cool completely and put the pieces into several airtight containers or ziplock plastic bags. When you need them, leave them to thaw in the fridge the night before frying or baking them.

Cooking Tips

  • Turmeric stains – While it tastes delicious and adds luscious color to the food, turmeric stains pretty much on contact. If you worry about it staining everywhere, use gloves and put a disposable kitchen towel below when cutting it.
  • Braise the chicken for a longer time – The chicken will be more flavorful if you take your time marinating them.
  • Oil splattering – Drain the chicken before frying to minimize oil splattering.
  • Don’t fry the chicken too long – The chicken will be dry and overcooked if you fry them too long.
ayam goreng ungkep (indonesian fried chicken) with sambal terasi
ayam goreng ungkep indonesian fried chicken

Ayam Goreng Ungkep (Indonesian Fried Chicken)

5 from 4 votes
Author: Taste of Nusa
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Main
Cuisine: Indonesian
Difficulty: Hard
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free
Servings: 16 chicken pieces
Ayam Goreng Ungkep or Indonesian Fried chicken is braised in rich spices and herbs, then deep-fried or baked until crispy. The infused chicken has so much flavor and aroma that keeps you get addicted.


  • 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg) whole chicken, about 2 chicken, each cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups (720 ml) coconut water or water

Spices and Seasonings


  • Grind aromatics. With a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind coriander seeds and candlenuts into powder. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, and 3-4 tbsp water. Grind until smooth into a thick paste. You can add more water if necessary.
  • Saute aromatics – In a large frying pan, add the blended spices along with lemongrasses, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. Heat on low-medium heat and stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken to the pan. Mix until the chicken pieces are covered with the spices.
  • Simmer. Add 3 cups of water or coconut water to the pan. Bring to a boil. Add salt and sugar. Cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes to marinate the chicken. Turn off the heat.

Fry or Bake

  • Frying method – When you are ready to fry the chicken, drain the chicken so they are not too wet or the oil will splatter everywhere. Pour enough oil for deep-frying into a large frying pan. Heat on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and fry until the skin is crispy and golden brown, turning each piece about halfway through, for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels.
  • Baking method – Preheat oven to 350F/180°C. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cover with another foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and then turn off the oven and turn on the broiler on low until the chicken pieces are nicely golden brown with crispy skin.
  • Serve with warm steamed rice and sambal terasi (shrimp paste chili sauce).


Coconut water – Simmer the chicken with coconut water instead of water for a richer flavor.
Storage – You can store the marinated chicken (not fried) in an airtight container or ziplock plastic bag in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw the chicken first before deep-frying.
Save the remaining seasonings (leftover sauce from braising the chicken) for marinating more chicken pieces. Or you can also use the seasonings for marinating and frying tofu and tempeh.



Serving: 1chicken piece | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 561mg | Potassium: 441mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 139IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
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