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Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken

When you need a quick chicken dish, this ayam nasu palekko - Makassar spicy chicken dish, might just be your answer. It is very fragrant and very citrusy from lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. It is also savory, sweet, spicy, and tangy. Basically it has everything, and I am sure the umami is built in somewhere, because we sure couldn’t stop eating this and it was a very very satisfying lunch :)

Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken
Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken

How many chilies !?!?

Confession time! The original recipe calls for 30 bird eye chilies, with all the seeds! Across so many Indonesian regional cuisines, dishes from Makassar tend to be over the top in the use of chilies. I have yet to come across even one dish with anything less than 20 bird eye chilies. Even most Indonesians that don’t grow up in Makassar will invariably use less chilies. I use a grand total of 3 bird eye chilies, and even my hubby already complains that it is a bit too much, haha :D

Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken
Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken

Chicken thigh vs. chicken breast

Most Asian, Indonesian included, prefer chicken thigh. Thigh meat tends to be juicier and tenderer. But if all you have is some skinless boneless chicken breast, it will work too since the cooking time for this dish is pretty quick and the breast shouldn’t dry out too much. But, if you can, stick to chicken thighs :)

Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken
Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken

The recipe: ayam nasu palekko - Makassar spicy chicken

Ayam Nasu Palekko - Makassar Spicy Chicken

5.0 from 7 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 20 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • 600-700 gram chicken thigh meat, cut into bite sizes
  • tamarind juice (from 1 tablespoon tamarind + 4 tablespoon water, mixed well and strained)
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised and knotted
  • 1/2 inch galangal, cut into thin slices and bruised
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or coconut sugar/brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Spice paste (grind together the following)
  • 100 gram shallot
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3-30 red bird eye chilies, seeded


  1. Massage chicken thigh with tamarind juice. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté spice paste, lemongrass, and galangal until fragrant and the spices are cooked. About 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken with all the tamarind marinade to the pan, season with palm sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir, cook until chicken is fully cooked, and the sauce is reduced by half.
  4. Turn off heat, add kaffir lime leaves and cilantro. Stir to mix evenly, then transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Megan Ellam Megan Ellam says:

    Oh this is my kind of recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    My mouth is watering looking at these photos and imagining all these flavors! I'm adding these ingredients to my shopping list because I have to make this asap!

  • Sapana Sapana says:

    The spice paste really adds so much flavor! Thanks for the detailed recipe.

  • Gavin Gavin says:

    LOVING this recipe. Have made it 4 times already and it’s soon to be 5 later this week

    • Anita Anita says:

      We love this too, Gavin! But I had yet to make this 5 times in a week, or even 4! But there's been days where we have this for two days in a row. :)

  • Anjali  Anjali says:

    What a delicious recipe!! Love the combination of spices that give it tons of flavor!

  • Syarifa Syarifa says:

    Anita, this is a delicious dish! A right combination of all flavors. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Casey Casey says:

    Absolutely delicious. I used tofu in place of chicken and it was still divine.

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