Ayam Goreng Berempah (Spicy Malaysian Fried Chicken)


For better or worse, I have recently found myself an avid fan of deep frying.

In the space of a Lockdown I have gone from fretting about the obvious detriments of cooking this way, to deep frying with rather worrying abandon! Battered sausages, onion rings, and of course, an attempt at D.I.Y. KFC – all have found their way into my sizzling cauldron…and onto my ever expanding hips. Of course, the best part about my newfound love of fried foods is that I can finally bring myself to make some of my favourite dishes at home – specifically, Ayam Goreng Berempah.

Often served alongside nasi lemak and drenched with sambal goreng, this spicy deep fried chicken dish is a crispy and irresistible delight. Marinated overnight in a heady blend of spices and fragrant curry leaves, the chicken is literally bursting with flavour. Unlike many other deep fried chicken recipes, ayam goreng berempah‘s marinate actually doubles up as the batter, meaning less mess!

The “secret” to getting the chicken’s crust crispy is the addition of cornflour into the mix. It’s important to get the ratio between the wet and dry ingredients correct – too wet and the batter/marinate may not remain adhered to the chicken when fried. Personally I like to give my marinated pieces a second dredging of cornflour, a couple of minutes before cooking – just in case! Remember to add a few fresh curry leaves to the sizzling oil beforehand to infuse it with extra aroma and flavour.

Simply irresistible!

Note: it is absolutely vital that the oil not be too hot, as it will burn the crispy coating long before the chicken pieces are cooked through. Ideally you want the temperature to be around 165 to 175°c. It is also important that the meat is at room temperature before cooking.

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

Ayam Goreng Berempah (Spicy Malaysian Fried Chicken) Serves: 6
  • 6 chicken pieces, preferably legs and thighs
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 2 stalks fresh curry leaves
  • Salt

For Wet Marinate: 

  • 10  Asian shallots, skinned and chopped (substitute with half a red and half a brown onion)
  • 5cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sliced lemongrass, soft inner core only (reserve the outer skins for another dish)

For Dry Marinate:

  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1.5 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tbsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Chop the chicken into medium sized pieces, then wash and drain
  2. Season meat with a little salt
  3. Place the prepared ‘wet’ marinate ingredients into a food processor, along with a small splash of water. Blitz until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, add and mix together all the ‘dry’ marinate ingredients (except for the egg and cornflour), then add the ‘wet’ onion mix to the bowl.
  5. Stir to combine the two.
  6. Add the beaten egg to the marinate
  7. Add the cornflour and one stalk of curry leaves, and blend until well-combined
  8. Add the chicken pieces and using your hands, thoroughly coat the meat in the marinate
  9. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least several hours, but preferably overnight
  10. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking (it is important that the uncooked chicken has a chance to come to room temperature before frying – otherwise the batter will burn long before the chicken is cooked through). If desired, dredge the chicken in a little more cornflour
  11. Heat up the oil until it reaches 175°c
  12. Add the remaining fresh curry leaves to the heated oil and fry for a couple of minutes till fragrant. Remove the leaves and reserve for garnish
  13. Making sure each piece is heavily coated in marinate, gently slide the chicken into the sizzling oil.
  14. Fry, in batches, for 15 to 20 minutes, occasionally rotating the chicken
  15. Once cooked through, remove chicken and drain on wire rack
  16. Collect any bits of fried batter from the oil, along with the reserved curry leaves add these to the chicken before serving

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


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