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Semur Ayam - Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce

Indonesian semur ayam is a delicious way to prepare bone-in chicken pieces and potatoes in a blend of spices, nutmeg, and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).

Semur ayam is a chicken and potato dish stewed in spices, nutmeg, and kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). The taste is very bold, the chicken and potatoes tender and succulent, and you will want to mop up all the sauce with a big bowl of steamed white rice. This delicious dish is very easy to prepare and you will want to put this in your meal rotation! ♥

Ingredients to Prepare Indonesian Semur Ayam (Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce).

Ingredients to Prepare Indonesian Semur Ayam (Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce).

What you need to prepare Indonesian semur ayam

Most Indonesians will prefer to use bone-in chicken pieces to prepare semur ayam, but boneless skinless meat can also be used for a fuss-free experience. Aside from chicken, you will need the following to prepare Indonesian semur ayam:

  • lemongrass, bruised and knotted, or cut one into 2
  • potatoes
  • kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • ground nutmeg
  • shallot
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • salt
  • sugar
  • pepper
Indonesian Semur Ayam - Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce.

Indonesian Semur Ayam - Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce.

How to cook Indonesian semur ayam

Cooking semur ayam is very easy and straightforward, consisting of only two steps:

  1. Heat oil in a pot and fry spice paste (ground shallot, garlic, and ginger) and lemongrass until fragrant, then add chicken pieces and stir until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add potatoes, water, kecap manis, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until both the chicken pieces and potatoes are tender.

That’s it! And you can serve them as is, or with some sprinkling of deep fried shallot flakes (a.k.a. Indonesian bawang goreng). Serve semur ayam with some steamed white rice for a satisfying meal.

Indonesian Semur Ayam - Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce.

Indonesian Semur Ayam - Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce.

Semur Ayam - Chicken in Nutmeg and Sweet Soy Sauce

5.0 from 14 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Print Recipe



  1. Heat oil in a pot and sauté spice paste and lemongrass until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add chicken pieces and stir until well coated with the spice and no longer pink.
  3. Add potatoes, water, sweet soy sauce, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and white pepper into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked and tender, about 30 minutes. Adjust with salt and sugar as needed.
  4. Turn off heat. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with with shallot flakes and served immediately with steamed white rice.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Tarek Obaid Tarek Obaid says:

    bookmarked!!, I like your blog!

  • Yudhi Yudhi says:

    Thanks Anita, all my family liked.This one beat my old recipe

    • Anita Anita says:

      You are welcome Yudhi :)

  • Brett Brett says:

    Noticed this recipe doesn't include candle nut, might give it a try though, thanks Anita!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Good idea Brett, especially for those who love thicker sauce :)

  • Christina Narendra Christina Narendra says:

    I always go to your website first for Indonesian recipes. This is delicious. I substituted tofu for chicken for this one. Thanks as always and regards from Southern California.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment Christina. Good idea with the tofu sub! You can also use hard-boiled eggs and make semur telur. :)

  • Silvia Koningin Silvia Koningin says:

    Anita, this recipe is delicious! My family loves it!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for sharing Silvia! I am always happy to know that others like my recipe. :)

  • Colleen Colleen says:

    This looks like a delicious stew and I love all of the flavours, plus so easy! Can't wait to make it.

  • Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says:

    This sounds absolutely delicious. I love using nutmeg in dishes and this sounds divine.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Me too! I always posit that nutmeg is not used enough in savory dishes. You may also want to try my perkedel kentang recipe and sup buntut recipe, two other classic Indonesian dishes that also have nutmeg as their secret ingredients.

  • kim kim says:

    Yes, please! What a brilliant recipe! So tasty and easy! I'll definitely be making again and again.

  • Beth Beth says:

    I love how flavorful, fast and easy this recipe is! Perfect for busy weekdays or when company comes!

    • Anita Anita says:

      This is definitely one of the simpler Indonesian recipes, perfect when I am busy and need to entertain guests, especially those who have never sampled Indonesian food before. :)

  • Laura | Wandercooks Laura | Wandercooks says:

    I can't believe how easy and delicious this is! Where has this recipe been all my life? :) I plan on showing this one off at my next dinner party.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yay, I'm glad you love this dish. I am sure your guests will love them too. :)

  • Ashley Ashley says:

    This looks amazing!!! Can't wait to try it!!

  • Kelly Anthony Kelly Anthony says:

    This semur ayam chicken looks like the perfect comfort meal. The spices really take this dish to the next level.

  • Katie Katie says:

    This looks amazing! Can't wait to try it.

  • Carrie Robinson Carrie Robinson says:

    I have never heard of this before, but it definitely sounds super flavorful! :)

  • Noelle Noelle says:

    This recipe is just to die for, love all the flavors it has going!!

  • Milky Milky says:

    This recipe is as-advertised: succulent sauce and brilliantly easy! Reminded me (slightly) of other dark-saucy classic chicken dishes like adobo and jjimtak- as the kind of dish that can please almost anyone. Personally, I love how potatoes absorb the flavors.

    I didn't get around to reading the other comments, but I wished I added some hard-boiled eggs, so I could just sneak an egg for a snack. I'll double the nutmeg next time since it weakens in leftovers and my spices tend to be old (embarrassed cringe.)

    I fixed mine up with jasmine rice and some vegetable fritters. What other side dishes would work well? Maybe a veggie pickle?

    • Anita Anita says:

      You can indeed sneak in quite a bit when making semur, but the most popular ones are hard-boiled eggs and fried tofu cubes. As for sides, I usually just serve it with steamed rice, but I think some prawn crackers, serundeng, and a simple lalap/vegetable salad should work well together.

  • Ty Ty says:

    Will I be able to omit the nutmeg or is there any substitute for it? Can't wait to try this recipe!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Ty, you can omit the nutmeg and the dish will still turn out great, but it just won't be the same as the semur ayam you get in Indonesia. As for substitute, I would say the same amount of mace, allspice, or cloves. None of them will be the same as nutmeg, but I think it is better than a no spice version.

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