Recipes from Christmas Island: Ayam Panggang (Lemon Chile Chicken)

Recipes from Christmas Island

Ayam Panggang

Country: Christmas Island
Course: Main
Makes: 4-6 servings


  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, grated
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • A large handful of red dried chilies, soaked
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 lbs chicken pieces (on the bone)
  • Oil
  • 1 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, crush the coriander with the cumin, fennel and turmeric. In a blender, purée the tamarind paste with the grated lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, onion, garlic, soaked chilies and salt, adding a little water as needed, until you have a smooth paste. Add the dry spice mix and pulse until well incorporated.
  2. Now heat some oil in a large pan and add the paste. Cook, stirring, until the mixture becomes aromatic. Add the chicken and about 3/4ths of the coconut milk. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender (the internal temperature should be at least 165 for breast meat and 175 for thighs and drumsticks).
  3. When the chicken is done, add the rest of the coconut milk and the lemon juice and stir. Serve hot over steamed rice.