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Opor Ayam (Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk)

Featured on Episode 16 of Simply Ming, guest chef Damian D'Silva shares his authentic Singapore recipe.


  • 4 boneless, skin-on whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • Juice of 1/2 orange*

  • 2 each kencur (fragrant ginger), omit if not available

  • 1-inch length fresh turmeric, sliced

  • 1-inch length ginger, sliced

  • 1 large red onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1-inch length lengkuas (galangal), sliced

  • 3 buah keras (candlenuts) or macadamia nuts

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp added to 1/2 cup water (mix well then

  • strained and use liquid only)

  • 2 daun salam (Indian bay leaves)

  • 3 limau purut (Kefir lime leaves)

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

  • Palm sugar to taste

  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk

  • 12 Thai basil leaves

  • Salt to taste

  • Cooking oil for frying


  • 1.

    In a non-reactive bowl, squeeze lime and orange juices over chicken. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

  • 2.

    Using a mortar & pestle, pound fragrant ginger, turmeric, ginger, red onion, garlic, lengkuas (galangal) and buah keras (candlenuts) until smooth. Alternatively, process in a blender.

  • 3.

    Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat bottom. Fry the spice paste till fragrant and most moisture has cooked out, 10 to 15 minutes. Add chicken, skin-side down and cook for 5 t o 7 minutes, stirring. At this time, add the tamarind liquid, daun salam (Indian bay leaves), limau purut (Kefir lime leaves), white pepper, coriander, cumin and palm sugar. Stir to combine then add coconut milk, continue to cook till chicken is almost done, 15 to 20 minutes. Add Thai basil and cook another minute. Place chicken on grill over high heat, and cook just to brown the surface. Put chicken on serving plate and top with sauce.


Calamansi, also known as acid orange, was used in this recipe. The combination of lime and orange juices is the best approximation if calamansi is not available.
Note: The original dish calls for the chicken to be grilled first before cooking, what this does is it imparts the grilled aroma on the dish. I like to half cook the chicken before finishing it on the grill. I feel this gives the best outcome from the cooking and grilling.

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