Johor royal family member shares her 100-year-old opor ayam recipe. Born in Johor, Balkis and her family are members of the Johor royal family who moved to the Klang Valley in the 1970s. But their passion for heritage Johor food has never wavered, inspired at least in part by the indomitable Esah’s talent for cooking these meals.
This dish is the family’s opor ayam, a nearly 100-year-old Johor-centric heirloom recipe that Esah inherited from her own mother and has since passed down to her children.
“I learnt it from my elders and then I showed my children how to make it. I want them to continue making it because not a lot of people know how to make opor ayam now, ” says the chirpy Esah, with a twinkle in her eyes.
Esah’s opor ayam (which Balkis now makes every year) features tender chicken coated in a thick gravy that is redolent of coconut milk, kerisik, kurma powder, spices and aromatics all melding fluidly together to create rich, tropical notes with hints of the flavour nuances of the Indian sub-continent.
This recipe first published in Food News under The Star.
- 1 whole chicken, quartered
- 2 red onions
- 5 cloves garlic
- 5cm ginger
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 5 candlenuts
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 5 cloves
- 5 cardamoms
- 125g kurma powder
- 100g briyani powder
- 250g kerisik (toasted, pounded grated coconut)
- 400ml coconut milk
- sugar and salt to taste
- In a pan, fry chicken until half cooked. Set aside.
- Grind onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and candlenuts.
- In a large pan, add oil and fry ground ingredients until aromatic. Add cloves and cardamom and fry for a short while. Add kurma powder, briyani powder and kerisik and stir well to combine.
- After 5 minutes, add coconut milk and salt and sugar to taste and stir well to combine.
- Then put chicken in and leave to simmer on low heat for another 20 to 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.