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Ayam Rica Rica - Manado Chicken with Chili Sauce

Red chilies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and lime juice are the key ingredients to transform a chicken into a bold, spicy, fresh, and citrusy dish.

Ayam rica-rica is specialty chicken dish from the city of Manado in Indonesia North Sulawesi. Rica means chili in North Sulawesi language, so ayam rica-rica translates to chicken with chili sauce.

If you love bold, spicy, fresh, and citrusy dishes, you will definitely love ayam rica-rica. Maybe just add one or two bird eye chilies if this is the first time making this dish, especially if you have kiddies eating this too.

Also, don’t forget the steamed white rice, and copious amount of cold refreshing drink to counter the heat from all those chilies!

Ingredients to prepare ayam rica-rica (Manado chicken with chili sauce).
Ingredients to prepare ayam rica-rica (Manado chicken with chili sauce).

Choosing the correct size or weight of chicken for ayam rica-rica

Most Indonesian chicken dishes use a whole chicken to prepare. We typically ask our butcher to chop the chicken up to 8-12 pieces. The weight of a chicken sold in Indonesia averages about 1.5 kg, or about 3.3 lb.

For simplicity, you can just use chicken pieces such as drumsticks, thighs, chicken quarters, e.t.c., as long as they total to around 1.5 kg (or 3.3 lb).

Ayam rica-rica - Manado chicken with chili sauce.
Ayam rica-rica - Manado chicken with chili sauce.

Herbs and spices needed to prepare ayam rica-rica

Ayam rica-rica is all about red chilies, so you will need a lot of it. But aside from the red chilies (I use red fresno chilies, and occasionally, I sneak in some red bird-eye chilies), you will also need the following:

  • lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh)
  • kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • lime (Indonesian: jeruk nipis)
  • shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah)
  • garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
  • ginger (Indonesian: jahe)

If you are familiar with Indonesian dishes, you will realize that you need a whole lot less of herbs and spices to prepare ayam rica-rica compared to many other Indonesian recipes. :)

Ayam rica-rica - Manado chicken with chili sauce.
Ayam rica-rica - Manado chicken with chili sauce.

Transforming this into a grilled chicken dish

If you wish, there is another alternative way of preparing ayam rica-rica. You can turn this braised chicken dish into a grilled chicken dish!

Once the chicken has finished braising in the pot, remove the lid and cook until the sauce really clings to the chicken.

Turn on a grill or an oven broiler, and grill/broil the chicken just until the skin is charred. Enjoy!

Ayam Rica Rica - Manado Chicken with Chili Sauce

4.9 from 12 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Serves: 8

Print Recipe


  • 1 chicken (about 1.5 kilogram/3.3 lb.), cut into 8 pieces (or use drumsticks, thighs, quarters, e.t.c.)
  • 3 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), bruised and knotted
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 10 red fresno chili (Indonesian: cabe merah besar/keriting), seeded
  • 10 red bird-eye chili (Indonesian: cabe merah rawit), seeded (optional, or use according to the level of spiciness you can tolerate)
  • 100 gram shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
  • 6 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
  • 2 inches ginger (Indonesian: jahe)


  1. Heat 5 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan, stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, salt, and sugar and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken pieces and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let cook undisturbed for 20 minutes on medium heat, or until chicken is fully cooked and tender. Serve with a bowl of steaming white rice.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Catherine Catherine says:

    What an exotic and delicious recipe to try! It's always nice to try something new with chicken...this is right up my alley!

  • Sara Welch Sara Welch says:

    What a fantastic looking recipe! I am adding this to my dinner line up for the week, indeed!

  • Kelly Anthony Kelly Anthony says:

    Do you know which aisle I could find kaffir lime leaves? I've never cooked with them so I am unfamiliar with where to look at the grocery store.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Kelly, I typically find them fresh along with other aromatics, such as the fresh curry leaves, fresh lemongrass, fresh Thai basil, e.t.c. When the fresh leaves are not available, sometimes I find them stocked in the frozen section alongside banana leaves and pandan leaves. The easiest is of course to just walk to the helpers and ask. A photo helps, and from my experience, the older helpers actually know where everything is.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Everyone loved this recipe! The spice paste definitely adds a ton of flavor to this dish. This recipe is a keeper!

  • Kelly Anthony Kelly Anthony says:

    I've never cooked with kaffir leaves and I'm not familiar where to find them. Where can I find kaffir lime leaves?

  • Nart | Cooking with Nart Nart | Cooking with Nart says:

    Looks delicious! The ingredients are very similar to those of our tom yum soup but this is a totally different dish!

  • Tawnie Kroll Tawnie Kroll says:

    Was so flavorful and delicious. Easy to make too!! Thank you SO much! Whole family approved.

  • Jeannette Jeannette says:

    This looks PHENOMENAL. I love how there's so much flavour from grinding some of the ingredients. Definitely pinning for later!

  • Biana Biana says:

    This sounds delicious and simple at the same time! Will definitely be making it soon, will make the spice paste with fewer chilis, though.

  • Sara Welch Sara Welch says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and it has easily become a new family favorite meal! Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! It was delicious!

  • Syarifa Syarifa says:

    Thanks Anita! This ayam rica-rica is delicious and easy to make. I'll definitely make it again. I used the chili seeds but added more sugar to balance.

  • Laila C. Laila C. says:

    Wonderful! My Indonesian family friends shared this recipe. A chef in Bali added these 3 things I don't see in your recipe, so just asking please: Shrimp paste, ouster sauce, holy basil. We had fried Red snapper in rica rica sauce. I want to make shrimps with scallions dish for my husband who is fond of seafood... Best wishes, from Copenhagen.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Laila, those 3 ingredients will be a great addition to this dish, and will increase the umami level too, so feel free to use them if you have them in your pantry. Shrimp paste and oyster sauce are both salty, so if you do use them, be sure to adjust the amount of salt to suite your taste. :)

  • Anna Anna says:

    Love lemongrass! Make any dish taste so yummy!

  • Ann Ann says:

    Looks wonderful! Did I miss how much water is added to cook the chicken in? Thanks

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Ann, there is no need to add water for this recipe. The spices and the chicken itself should yield enough juices to create the sauce. If for some reasons your dish looks dry and needs a little help to create the sauce, feel free to add 1/4 cup of water to step 3.

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