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Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api


  • 2 chicken thighs

  • 1/2 red onion or about 4-5 shallots

  • 4 cloves of garlic

  • 1 inch fresh turmeric root

  • 10 cili padi (Bird's eye chilli)

  • 1-2 potatoes cubed

  • 250ml Coconut Milk

  • 4 dried Kaffir lime leaves or 2 fresh Kaffir Lime leaves

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil


  1. Debone and chop chicken thighs or cut into two pieces.

  2. Pound or blend together the red onion, garlic, cili padi and turmeric. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder for extra flavour (optional)

  3. In a pot, heat cooking oil at medium heat and add the blended ingredients. Fry until fragrant or oil rises above the paste.

  4. Add a touch of water to diffuse the ingredients and stir.

  5. Add in coconut milk and Kaffir lime leaves. Stir well.

  6. Add cubed potatoes and stir.

  7. Add chicken thighs and stir.

  8. Simmer at medium low heat. Add water if the curry gets too thick.

  9. Curry is ready when potatoes are cooked. If fresh kaffir lime leaves are available, slice one leaf and garnish.

     Masak Lemak Cili Api is a traditional Minangkabau dish normally found in the southern state of Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia. It is a turmeric based curry that is made spicy by using Bird's Eye Chilli or Cili Api-literally translates to "Fire Chilli". Masak Lemak Cili Api is a traditional dish of the Minang people indigenous to the Minangkabau Highlands in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Minang people settled in Negeri Sembilan in the 15th century and their descendants make up the majority of the population in the state. The dish is widely available in almost all parts of Negeri Sembilan.

       I was born in Johor Bahru but raised in Negeri Sembilan. I also grew up in a community with a Malay majority and their culture along with their food has made a deep connection with me. Although I am from a different ethnic background, I have not felt like an outsider when I am with my Malay friends. I am always welcomed. I also like the old practice in Malay culture where everyone sits on the floor and have food together. This is where I learnt most of my knowledge about Malay food. The act of bonding, togetherness and willingness to share has helped me understand the importance and benefits of sharing and bonding using food as a medium. 

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