Ayam Masak Merah

Delicious fried chicken marinated with turmeric and simmered in a mildly spiced tomato gravy until it thickens. It is a very flavourful and appetizing dish that will definitely tantalize your taste buds.

5 stars

Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 30 mins


Spicy tomato chicken


Nyonya Cooking on Facebook
Nyonya Cooking on Pinterest
Nyonya Cooking on Twitter

Nutrition per Serving

1697 kcal
53 g
139 g
66 g

'Ayam masak merah' literally means chicken cooked in red sauce. The red sauce mentioned here comes from tomatoes and is mildly spiced with aromatics such as ginger, garlic and dried chillies. The chicken pieces are marinated with turmeric powder and deep fried before being braised in the spiced tomato gravy. As the gravy thickens, it develops more flavours along with the fried turmeric chicken.

Preparing Ayam Masak Merah
Preparing Ayam Masak Merah

Fresh turmeric vs turmeric powder

While turmeric powder is used in this dish, you can opt for fresh turmeric. Use at least 2 tablespoons of fresh turmeric. Pound the turmeric with the skin removed until it becomes a paste. Optionally, add 0.5 tablespoon of water to it. Then, mix the chicken pieces with the turmeric paste and salt.

Tomato puree instead of fresh tomatoes

Tomatoes are added to the dish for the colour and sweetness of the gravy. In summer, tomatoes can be exceptionally sweet while winter offers tomatoes which are milder in taste. Instead of using fresh tomatoes then, substitute with half a can of tomato puree.

Non-spicy ayam masak merah

Ayam masak merah is only mildly spiced. If you do not want it to be spicy, just omit the dried chillies from the recipe. Otherwise, simply follow the tips in handling dried chillies to reduce the spiciness.

Two tips for best results

You'll first need to ensure that the blended chilli-ginger-garlic-onion paste is sautéed with oil until fragrant. This happens when the oil separates from the paste. If this step is not followed, the paste will not develop its best flavours leaving a raw taste of aromatics.

After cooking this dish several times, I noticed the taste is more intense when the dish is left to simmer until the ingredients are really soft turning the gravy thick and luscious.

Ayam Masak Merah with Rice
Ayam Masak Merah with Rice

I adore the slight hint of spiciness in the dish. Normally, the chicken meat is mixed with plain flour before they are fried. In this recipe, turmeric is added to the flour to enhance the flavour of the fried chicken meat. Thus, they can be eaten just as they are. Serve it with some delicious quick pickled cucumber and pineapple for the extra tang! If you love flooding your plate of rice with gravy, this is the perfect dish for you. Besides rice, pairing it with bread makes it equally delicious.


550 g
chicken meat
1 tbsp
turmeric powder
1 tsp
250 ml
yellow onion(s)
3 cm
garlic clove(s)
chilli peppers (dried)
2 tbsp
3 tbsp
250 ml
1⁄4 tsp

Steps to Prepare

Ayam Masak Merah Step 1

Step 1 of 4

    • 550 g chicken meat
    • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
    • 1⁄2 tsp salt

Marinate chicken meat with turmeric powder and salt for 15 minutes.

Ayam Masak Merah Step 2

Step 2 of 4

    • 250 ml oil

Fry chicken meat after they had been marinated for 15 minutes.

Ayam Masak Merah Step 3

Step 3 of 4

    • 1 yellow onion(s)
    • 3 cm ginger
    • 2 garlic clove(s)
    • 6 chilli peppers (dried)
    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 1 tomato(es)
    • 3 tbsp ketchup

Blend yellow onion, ginger, garlic and chillies. Sauté blended ingredients in oil over medium heat until fragrant. Then, add the diced tomato and ketchup.

Ayam Masak Merah Step 4

Step 4 of 4

    • 250 ml water
    • 1⁄2 tsp salt
    • 1⁄4 tsp sugar

Add water to the sauteed ingredients and cook at highest heat. Once the gravy starts to boil, reduce heat to the lowest and allow to simmer. When gravy thickens, add the fried chicken meat and mix well.

Published: November 20, 2012

2 Discussions

3 years ago


Is this really 1600 calories per serving size? Seems like a lot.

Vanessa Yuen-Roberts
4 years ago

Vanessa Yuen-Roberts

I like the idea of using fresh turmeric, will it taste bitter? And should I add a bit of sugar? Thank you

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
4 years ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

You don't need to add sugar when using fresh turmeric. It will work just fine. Refer to the amount needed when substituting powdered turmeric here (step 2/2) https://www.nyonyacooking.com/ingredients/turmeric-fresh~HygtUwsPz5-m

Vanessa Yuen-Roberts
4 years ago

Vanessa Yuen-Roberts

Thank you. Yum!

Give us your opinion! Log in and start posting.