Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce)


Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Tomorrow is Hari Raya or Eid, the biggest Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, or the Islamic holy month of fasting. In Malaysia, all races come together to celebrate all types of festivities with open house, and we are served with lots of food.

My favourite Hari Raya open house dish is Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken cooked in rich creamy spicy tomato sauce). Yes, Ayam Masak Merah is not an everyday affair, it is a unique dish to be enjoyed on special occasions such as “traditional Malay weddings” and Hari Raya or Eid Celebration.

This dish shares similar basic spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise and chillies) to Chicken Curry, but Ayam Masak Merah has a unique distinctively tantalizing flavour. The chicken pieces are marinated with turmeric and deep-fried till golden in colour, then added to the simmering sauce. I absolutely hate the big clean-up after deep-frying. I tried using the “oven-frying” trick, and Yes, it worked for me. So now you can choose to either the traditional deep-frying or the hassle-free & healthier method of “oven-frying”. To my Muslim readers, I wish you all “Selamat Hari Raya Adil Fitri” and Eid Mubarak.

This is submitted to Muhibbah Malaysian Monday blog event

5.0 from 2 reviews
Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken Spicy Tomato Sauce)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Tantalizing Chicken in Creamy Spicy Tomato Sauce
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 1kg Chicken - cut into 8 pieces
  • 10 Dried Chillies, soaked
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 20g Ginger
  • 15g Galangal (Lengkuas)
  • 3 Lemongrass
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 2 Cloves
  • 2 inch Cinnamon
  • 1 Cardamom
  • 200g Tomato Puree
  • 200ml Coconut Milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying plus ¼ cup extra
  1. Rub chicken with turmeric and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Heat up the oil in a wok and deep fry the chicken pieces until golden in colour. Set aside. (For Oven Frying, Rub chicken with turmeric, salt and 3 tablespoon corn flour, marinate for 2 hours in the fridge. Arrange chicken onto the middle rack in the oven and place a tray on the rack below to catch the dripping oil. Roast for 30 minutes on 475F)
  2. Roughly chopped red onion, ginger, galangal and lemongrass, then transfer to a blender or food processors. Add in chillies and garlic. Process into a paste.
  3. Heat up the wok with ¼ cup of oil, sauté the spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom) until fragrant. Then add in the blended paste. Bring the heat up until the paste bubble then lower the heat. Simmer till the oil separates from the paste.
  4. Add in tomato puree, coconut milk and chicken pieces. Bring up the heat for a quick boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickened. Add salt to taste.



  1. Excellent recipe! I tried it today. It turned out so well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: 10 traditional and delicious menu for raya open house | JewelPie

  3. He escrito esta receta porque me parece deliciosa, quiero hacerla, espero que me salga bien, si lo consigo te lo comentaré.

  4. wow – I have never heard of this dish before – but it looks just amazing! I absolutely love anything with star anise and lemongrass!
    Steve @ the black peppercorn recently posted..Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeno PopperMy Profile

  5. I remember this dish from some blog – it looks beautiful and delicious! This is the one that’s featured on the famous website right? Congratulations! I can see why yours are being featured. 🙂 Looks very delicious!
    Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Buttermilk PancakesMy Profile

    • Thank you Nami, yes it is a very delicious chicken dish. This dish was featured on Asian Food Channel’s FB page.. it would be even better if it’s featured on their website 😀

  6. What a gorgeous sauce! I adore these flavors…special indeed 🙂
    magicofspice recently posted..What’s for lunch? Fresh Chickpea and Tomato Summer SaladMy Profile

  7. A must-have at Raya open houses…

    • yes, this is a must have dish at Hari Raya.. I used to wait one year for this dish.. now i can make my own, but still need to perfect it to taste like the original version.. lol

  8. Hi Shannon, I love this ayam masak merak very much, one of my favorite chicken dish and you cook it so well!
    Jeannie recently posted..Char Siu BaoMy Profile

  9. This looks amazing and I haven’t had it in AGES! So want to try it. Question about oven “frying”. Does the drip tray have to be so far below the chicken? Can I put the chicken on a cooling rack on top of a baking tray or does there have to be that much space between? Can’t wait to try!
    Angie recently posted..Recipes Anyone?My Profile

    • Thanks Angie, it’s time to try 🙂 ohh.. you have a sharp eye, thanks for pointing out to me. the drip tray just need to be just below the chicken to catch the dripping oil.. will amend the recipe 🙂

  10. This is way too tempting ya! I’m salivating here! Happy Raya and holidays to all!

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