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Ayam Tempra

Ayam tempra is Malaysian nyonya chicken dish, braised with onions and dark soy sauce, with a hefty splash of calamansi juice.

Ayam tempra is a Malaysian nyonya dish. The characteristic of this dish is that chicken pieces is cooked with plenty of onion and soy sauce, and brighten with calamansi juice right at the end of the cooking. The ingredients are very minimal, but the taste is exceedingly delicious, making this one of household staple dish in many Malaysian homes.

Ayam Tempra
Ayam Tempra

Calamansi (or Calamondin)

I have yet to find calamansi sold in the city where I currently reside. I do see plenty of key limes, and of course, regular limes. I think both are quite acceptable substitution for calamansi. But if you can find calamansi, it is best to use calamansi. Calamansi is quite similar to key limes in term of size, but calamansi has sweeter juice and with orange color flesh (like navel oranges). To me, it’s almost like a cross between key limes and kumquat.

Ayam Tempra
Ayam Tempra

Whole chicken

In Malaysia, most people use half a chicken, cut into pieces to prepare ayam tempra. I don’t usually buy a whole chicken here, mostly I stock drumsticks, chicken thighs, chicken quarters, or skinless boneless breasts. So I just wing it and usually grab 5-6 pieces of drumsticks and call it half a chicken. You can use any part of chicken, but do include the skin and bone if you can.

Ayam Tempra
Ayam Tempra

Ayam Tempra

5.0 from 8 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 inch ginger, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 chicken drumsticks (~ 1/2 chicken, cut into pieces)
  • 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon light soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3-5 red chilies, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon calamansi juice (from ~ 3 calamansi) (*)


  1. Heat oil in a wok/deep skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and ginger until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in chicken pieces and fry until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover wok/skillet with a lid, and cook until chicken is tender, and the sauce is very thick and coats the chicken, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add chili slices and calamansi juice. Stir. Turn off heat and serve immediately.


  • (*) Calamansi can be substituted with key lime or regular lime.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Divesh Kanojia Divesh Kanojia says:

    Your recipes are always good. These all recipes are very easy to prepare. Thanks a lot for the yummy recipes.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for the compliment Divesh.

  • Mahi Mahi says:

    I would like to say thank you for the amazing details and concepts you are sharing in this. Thanks again for another delicious gluten free recipe. Can I use more red chilies in this recipe? Hope all is well with you and your loved ones.

    • Anita Anita says:

      I am glad you love the recipe Mahi. You definitely can add more red chilies if you are up for it. :)

  • Chris Collins Chris Collins says:

    i've never had Ayam Tempra before but after reading this I'll definitely be giving it a go! Thanks for sharing!

  • Cathleen Cathleen says:

    My mom could always find calamansi in whatever city we lived in. But then again, she was very connected with the other Filipinos around any neighbourhood we ended up in, so that probably helped. This looks so tasty. Do you deliver? ;)

    • Anita Anita says:

      LOL, I don't deliver, Cathleen. But I'm sure you will have no trouble cooking this one on your own. :) Your Mom sounds like a really nice lady.

  • Aimee Mars Aimee Mars says:

    I love to learn about new recipes and I also love how you made some suggestions on substitutions. This looks like a recipe my entire family would love so I can't wait to try it.

  • Andrea Metlika Andrea Metlika says:

    This chicken looks delicious. Super flavorful with a kick.

  • Noelle Noelle says:

    The flavors in this dish are amazing! My whole family loved this, saving it to make again!!

  • Butterfly Butterfly says:

    This is so good!

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