Experiences - Asia

Must-eat in Malaysia – Ayam Buah Keluak

Ayam Buah Keluak is one of the staple foods which is a favourite among the Peranakans.  It has a strong and robust flavour with a unique taste. It is known to have been passed down from generations making it a truly authentic Peranakan dish.

The origins of ayam buah keluak can be traced back to Indonesia. It was brought over to Malaysia by the Peranakan families from Java and Sumatra. Keluak nuts can be found in Indonesia, where they are used to prepare authentic Indonesian dishes.

Made with chicken bits and sometimes with pork, it is combined with keluak (a type of nut which comes with a tough shell exterior grown in Southeast Asia), which produces an appealing and unique flavour.

Cooking this dish is quite a tedious process, however, the taste is ineffable.

Must-eat in Malaysia - Ayam Buah Keluak

Image Courtesy: Tomoaki INABA used under the Creative Commons Licence

It involves making the rempah (pounded spices) which is made of seven ingredients and also to extract the powder from the keluak nuts and soak them in water to get a silky texture.

The keluah nuts are known to be poisonous if consumed directly and hence the nuts should be soaked in water for 3 days and boiled and then buried in ash, banana leaves and earth for forty days where they turn from a creamy white colour to dark brown or black.

You would have to scrub every nut and soak it in water, before you chop one end of the nut and scoop the black pulp inside. Then you have to pound or blend it with some spices.

The ingredients that go into rempah are lemongrass, candlenuts, galangal, turmeric, dried red chillies fresh red chillies, prawn paste and shallots. The dried red chillies add a deep red colour to the gravy, and the candlenuts acts as a thickener while the other ingredients add an exotic taste and aroma to the dish.

The dried red chillies are softened by soaking them in hot water, and the belacan prawn paste is prepped by toasting it till it is fragrant.

Ayam Buah Keluak

Image Courtesy: Jonathan Lin used under the Creative Commons Licence

Finally, the nuts are stuffed with chicken and rempah and simmered until tender and till the sauce thickens.

The entire process takes a long time but this dish tastes best when eaten with a steaming bowl of rice, chincalok omelette and sambal kangkong (stir-fried water spinach).

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