Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken “Ayam Masak Merah”

Finally, I found my way of cooking ayam masak merah (Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken). I am very very particular with this dish because I had a really, I mean really good one before. I used to buy nasi lemak for breakfast from a stall operated by a Malay couple. Their ayam masak merah is something that I would drool on even when I just think about it.

Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken “Ayam Masak Merah”

This ayam masak merah is spicy and I also remember that there were rings of onion sitting together with the chicken and I always were happy to have some rings of onion in my nasi lemak. Their chicken had a very strong but good turmeric smell and it binded really well with the spicy tomato sauce. The spicy tomato paste although sounds simple but to get it right, it took me ages. The taste is really complicated judging from the amount of spices used and the way of cooking it as well.

Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken “Ayam Masak Merah”

This ayam masak merah is reddish and spicy plus the chicken is fried then cooked in the sauce. The chicken is first marinated with turmeric, salt and pepper then fried. The distinctive turmeric smell is well combined with the spicy tomato sauce. I have also utilised the oil used from frying the chicken to make the spicy tomato sauce. I have made this dish a few times referring to several sites but I just can’t get it right until I come across this site, her mom’s recipe is some sort of what I am going after. I have added a few types of spices just to lift the spicy tomato sauce with more level of depths and taste.

Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken “Ayam Masak Merah”

I am finally rested with this recipe and this will be my go-to recipe whenever I miss the couple’s ayam masak merah.

Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken “Ayam Masak Merah”

Spicy Tomato Sauce Chicken “Ayam Masak Merah” (6 drumsticks for 3 person)
Adapted from Irmadilondon’s blog


  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Enough oil for frying chicken
  • *½ cup of oil from the oil used for frying chicken
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 big onion, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, you can use the green part here because it is just for the fragrance
  • 1 tablespoon of dried chilli paste
    • Made from 9 dried chillies
    • First boil the dried chillies with ¼ cup of  water until soft. About 5 minutes
    • Drain the chilli and  blend with 1 tablespoon of water
    • Note:  You can keep the extras in the fridge (tightly sealed) for a month
  • ¼ cup of coconut milk
  • 2. 5 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted fine desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Another 1 medium sized onion, cut to ring shape, about 5mm thickness
  • Garnish: Sliced spring onion


  1. Marinate the chicken drumsticks with ground turmeric, salt and pepper for 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the other ingredients such as the dried chilli paste, the onion, garlic and ginger.
  3. Prepare to fry chicken. Once the oil is hot enough, fry the chicken until the surface is light golden brown. You might not want to over fry the chicken else it will cause the chicken to be very dry. Set aside. About 2-3 mins on each side
  4. In a pot with medium heat, put in ½ cup of oil (oil used for frying chicken earlier on).
  5. Once the oil is heated up. Put in the grated onion and fry. This takes about 10 minutes. When you see some of the onion turning light brown, add in the garlic and ginger. Fry for about 1 minute under low heat.
  6. Add in the dried chilli paste. Stir well with the rest of the ingredients. Fry the mixture in very low heat. This process takes about 15 minutes. The chilli mixture will turn from orange color to darker orange red color and there will be red color oil surfacing.
  7. Add in tomato paste, tomato sauce, coconut milk and water. Turn the heat up to medium. Cook until the mixture starts to boil. Add in fine desiccated coconut and the seasoning (salt and sugar). Adjust according to your taste.
  8. Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes under low heat. Stir regularly.
  9. Add in the fried chicken to the sauce. Mix the chicken well with the sauce. Cook the chicken and the sauce for another 10 minutes.
  10. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add in the onion rings and mix well. Cook for the remaining 5 minutes.
  11. Garnish with spring onion and serve.

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