Tummy-pleasing Chicken Asam Pedas is easy to make

A stress-free dish of Chicken Asam Pedas.

There’s just something thoroughly satisfying about a hearty dish of Asam Pedas.

While the origin of Malaysia’s culinary history is vague, Asam Pedas is widely acknowledged to be a Malay dish popular in Melaka and Johor. And of these two states, Melaka has laid its claim over this dish because of its Nyonya background.

Traditionally Asam Pedas is cooked with “meaty” types of fish such as red snapper, stingray, mackerel, and salmon.

It is not unusual however, to find other types of protein given the Asam Pedas treatment – seafood, beef, oxtail, mutton and chicken to name a few.

You can serve your Asam Pedas dish with rice, soft bread, or roti canai. Any Asam Pedas dish also tastes better after a few days as the flavours intensify overnight.

Base ingredients

  • 50g (30 pcs) dried chilies, cut into 3cm lengths, tips removed and soaked
  • 100g (1) large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 12g (5) candlenut
  • 20g (5 cloves) garlic, peeled
  • 120ml water


  • 950g (1 whole) medium chicken, cut into 10-12 pieces
  • 14g (2 sticks) lemongrass, white part only, bashed
  • 50g (2) ginger flowers
  • 6g (2 tsp) turmeric powder
  • 30g tamarind pulp mixed with 240ml (1 c) water
  • 210g (3) tomatoes, blended
  • 480g (3) eggplant, cut into large chunks
  • 11 pcs kaffir lime leaves
  • 20g (1/2 c) Vietnamese coriander (daun kesum)
  • 10g (1 ½ tsp) salt
  • 120ml cooking oil
  • 1 litre water


  • Blend all base ingredients until smooth and fine.
Blend base ingredients.


  • In a large pot, heat cooking oil on high. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when bubbles start forming at the base of the pot.
Bubbles forming in the pot.
  • Add in blended base ingredients, lemongrass and ginger flowers. Stir and cook until you can smell the ingredients.

The aim is to release the aroma of the base ingredients and not to cook it until the oil starts to separate from the ingredients. This should take about five minutes.

Sauté the blended base ingredients.
  • Add turmeric and stir thoroughly.
Turmeric added into the pot.
  • Add chicken and stir until chicken is coated.
Chicken is fully coated.
  • Squeeze and mix tamarind pulp with water to remove pulp from seeds.
  • Using a strainer, pour the tamarind pulp and water mixture into the pot, squeezing out liquid as much as possible from the pulp.
Squeeze out all the liquid.

Add blended tomatoes, then give everything in the pot a good stir.

Blended tomatoes go in.
  • Next, add salt and stir. Turn down heat to medium.
  • Add one litre water or more, enough to cover the chicken.
Add enough water to have gravy.
  • Finally, add kaffir lime leaves and Vietnamese coriander. Mix the ingredients together and let it cook until everything boils, stirring occasionally.
Add in leaves.
Make sure it boils.
  • Once the Asam Pedas chicken is boiling, add cubes of eggplant and cook until these become soft and squishy.
Adding in the eggplants is the final step.
  • Serve with rice, an omelette or any of your favourite side dishes.
It’s a feast.

Extra tips

  • Some tamarind pulp has salt and/or sugar added as a preservative. Therefore you have to adjust the amount of salt used in the cooking accordingly.
  • Ladies fingers/okra also goes well with this dish. Add these in when you add in the eggplant.
  • If you want to adjust the gravy for saltiness or sourness, give the dish a taste after everything comes to a boil but before the eggplants go in.
  • It’s a perfect dish to end your day. Plus, by making a big portion, you can freeze the leftovers and eat it whenever you want during the coming week.

This article first appeared in butterkicap.com

Butterkicap is a food and culture platform and community that enables anyone to experience Malaysia through stories of her people, food and places