Asian Flavors,  Chicken dishes,  Cooking Recipes,  From the books

Nursing my sudden Bali nostalgia with Balinese-style Fried Chicken

My trip to Bali happened last February, and while that seems like ages ago, at the same time it still feels so fresh in my mind. Guess that’s nostalgia for you. It hit me like a wave that washed over my whole being as I was writing my Bali travel diary and editing my travel video. I was literally reliving every photo and every video clip I shot. It was like that for the duration of my preparation for these entries. I kept wanting so much to transport myself back to those three days I spent with my best buddies doing real temple runs and getting sunburnt but still loving every moment.

I think I managed to somehow include some of the best moments from the trip in the video below, which is why I feel like the video is something of a masterpiece of mine (despite the shakiness of it) because of the sentimental value it holds for me. My first self-curated trip with my best friends in a place I have never been to. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

From the clips above, I think you can imagine the trip was a riot! By the way, to see the other places we visited in the video, check out the posts in my Bali travel series:

  • Bali Day 1: Kicking off a first solo adventure abroad with the Bajra Sandhi Monument, Tanah Lot, and the lovely Uluwatu Temple
  • Bali Day 2: Some unusual temple experiences at the Kertha Gosa Pavilion, Pura Besakih, Temple of the Holy Water, and Pura Gunung Kawi
  • Bali Day 3: Discovering some of my favorite temples such as the Ulun Danu Temple, and the Goa Gaja Bedulu, as well as the Taman Ayun Temple

Without a doubt one of the best things about traveling alone is the immense sense of freedom and adventure you get. You make your own schedules and have the choice of visiting the more interesting non-touristy places. You get to pick one random place to eat and figure out which item in the menu to order. Gilbert did all the heavy-lifting and made all the bookings for lodging and transport so I made us a long list of restaurants to try out from TripAdvisor to help.

We got to try a lot of local Indonesian and Balinese dishes, such as the ever-famous Babi Guling and Fried Bebek. We also sampled their veggie dish with peanut sauce called Gado-Gado (which I also hope to replicate at home). We even got to try grilled seafood from a random restaurant near our inn. Curiously enough, despite the specialties we got to sample, we didn’t get to eat any Balinese-style chicken dish. It’s probably why it was the first thing that jumped at me as I was looking for Indonesian recipes to make in my attempt to somehow squash this major nostalgia moment I am currently having.

I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this recipe at this point since, as I said, I wasn’t able to try this dish, but one thing is clear: It’s a mighty tasty take on fried chicken!

After making this, I have become genuinely curious as to how this actually tastes like if eaten in Bali. I love foods that are both spicy and spiced, plus the fact that it is cooked in coconut milk is a bonus. In fact, liking this dish was a no-brainer for me. The combination of the kecap manis and chilli gives a slight sweet and spicy kick, while the coconut milk keeps the chicken tasting rich and juicy. All the lovely flavours get infused into the chicken too since it is simmered in the sauce for some time.

The recipe has you first create the main seasoning of the dish- the one you cook into the coconut milk to give it its flavour- by pureeing a bunch of ingredients together. Personally I don’t like to process my seasoning into a paste because I like being able to get bits of the garlic and onions and chilli whenever I eat, but it’s all up to you. I just prefer a salsa-like mixture.

I have made this recipe twice and during the first time I had accidentally left the chicken simmering in the wok for too long that the sauce was reduced until there was barely anything left. That time the chicken kept browning until it almost got burnt. However it was because of this that the chicken became even more flavourful, albeit a little dry from being overcooked. The second time I made this I didn’t let the sauce dry out, and though that has its benefits (especially if you enjoy eating food with sauces) I find the flavour wasn’t as strong.

I feel like you could cook this dish either way according to your preference, but remember to keep an eye on the simmering chicken to make sure you get the result you want. It’s definitely worth kind of letting the chicken brown a little bit as it sucks in the sauce.

In any case, this recipe is easy and delicious. It might be a good recipe to keep close at hand if you’re ever in need of a flavourful change in your meals. You can serve it with Nasi Goreng, just like what I did!

Ayam Bali (Balinese-Style Fried Chicken)

This Balinese-style of cooking fried chicken is a tasty one! The combination of kecap manis and chilli gives a slight sweet and spicy kick, while the coconut milk keeps the chicken tasting rich and juicy.
Servings 6


  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 red chillies, seeded and chopped*
  • 1 Tablespoon kecap manis
  • 1/2 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 1 1/4 kilograms chicken wings and/or drumsticks
  • 2 teaspoons dark palm sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk


  • 1. Place onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, and kecap manis into a food processor and process until all ingredients have been sliced up and mixed together into a chunky salsa-like paste. (If a smoother paste is desired, process the mixture more.)
  • 2. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat, then cook the chicken pieced until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • 3. Pour off all but 1 Tablespoon of the oil from the wok. Cook the processed chilli mixture in the remaining oil for a few minutes until very aromatic. Stir constantly.
  • 4. Add the palm sugar, lemon juice, salt, and coconut milk into the wok. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often.
  • 5. Reduce the heat to low and return the browned chicken into the wok. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until chicken is tender and sauce has somewhat thickened. Make sure to rotate pieces that may not have been submerged into the sauce while simmering.
  • 6. Serve with rice and a side of vegetables.


* Remember to use plastic gloves while chopping the chillies as its juices can get into your nails and cause your hands to feel hot.
Adapted from <i>The Complete Asian Cookbook</i> by Charmaine Solomon
In case I get to go back to Bali with Gilbert and Marga, I will surely remind them that we need to try out the Balinese-Style Fried Chicken!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.