Inche Kabin (Nyonya Fried Chicken)

A delectable Nyonya classic, Inche Kabin will have you licking your fingers and asking for more! Deep fried chicken morsels, marinated in a thick coconut and spiced rub, Inche Kabin is bursting with flavour and always goes down a treat.

Though not personally au fait with the origins of Inche Kabin, the reigning queen of Nyonya Cuisine Pearly Kee, refers to the dish as lipstick chicken and speaks to its importance in Nyonya culture. Often served when presenting debutantes to the society, these bite-sized pieces of chicken were the perfect option to keep the young ladies feed, allowing them to maintain their poise and dignity whilst nibbling on tasty snacks. After all, heaven forbid your future wife be seen chewing in public! Oh how the world has changed…And as to why it’s also known as lipstick chicken? I’m still not sure. It may well be poetic license, but I can only surmise that the residue of oil from the deep fried chicken upon the lips has something to do with it. I guess glossy lips have always been in vogue, even if its just a bit of grease from too much Inche Kabin!

As with all deep fried chicken, the key to a good Inche Kabin is, rather unsurprisingly, the frying. Three times seems to do the trick, resulting in a crispy crust of spices. Traditionally chopped up chicken legs are the cut of choice, but I also like to use chicken wings for the recipe. Though obviously not as meaty as the leg, the wings are nonetheless delicious and not prone to drying out. Either would work, its really up to you.

Another key component to the dish is the dipping sauce. Never served without it, the simple piquant sauce adds just enough ‘zing’ to cut through the spice crust, making the Inche Kabin even more irresistible!

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Inche Kabin (Nyonya Fried Chicken)

Ingredients (for the chicken): 

  • 8 chicken drumsticks or 12 chicken wings
  • Cooking oil for deep-frying
  • 100ml coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 ground clove
  • 1 tsp salt

Ingredients (for the dipping sauce): 

  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp castor sugar
  • 6 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce


  1. Prepare you chicken of choice:
    • Drumsticks – using a heavy meat-cleaver, cut each drumstick into 3 pieces, making sure to leave enough meat on the bony end piece.
    • Wings – remove and discard tip of the wing, cutting the remaining wing into two at the joint.
  2. In a bowl, combine the coconut cream, coriander, chilli powder, turmeric, cinnamon, clove and salt. Add the chicken and mix well. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, though overnight is best.
  3. An hour before you start cooking the chicken, prepare the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  4. Heat the oil until it is very hot, then add the chicken pieces in small batches. Cook each batch for about 2 minutes (for drumsticks) or 1 minute (for wings) before removing and allowing to drain on a rack and cool slightly.
  5. Wait for the oil to heat up again and repeat the process.
  6. Repeat the process a third time.
  7. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

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