Recipe: Ayam Masak Lemak Cekur/Pecel Ayam with Creamy Coconut Sauce

Confession time – I must admit, cekur/kencur (Kaempferia Galangal or Peacock Ginger or sand ginger) has held a special place in my life thanks to its numerous benefits, especially for us women. Commonly used in Indonesian cooking, it boasts a strong, sweet taste with a lingering pungent note, distinct from its cousin galangal. However, it wasn't always my favorite, particularly when my mom used it generously in her "Sayur Pecel." The game-changing moment occurred a decade ago during my pregnancy with Adam. At Warung Warisan Mbah Kasono in Kebayan Air Biru (or simply "Kebayan" as the locals call it), an Indonesian gem serving the best ayam, bebek, and lele penyet, my perception of cekur transformed. Their ayam penyet, complemented with a cekur-infused soup, showcased the herb's incredible flavor. Fascinated, I even planted cekur in my garden, purchased from Kedai Aceh near my house.

Some of you might know it as Ayam Masak Lemak Cekur, Ayam Masak Lemak Kencur, Ayam Masak Lemak Pecal, Pecel Ayam, or by another name. Today, I'm excited to share our cherished recipe for Ayam Masak Lemak Cekur, a culinary connection that formed during memorable meals.

A tempting plate of Ayam Masak Lemak Cekur, showcasing the perfect blend of grilled chicken and rich coconut milk infused with aromatic herbs.

For Marinate - Blend
1/2 chicken (cut into 6/8 pieces)
1 inch ginger
1/3 tablespoon salt
3 lemongrass stalks (bruised with a mortar and pestle)
1/4 tablespoon turmeric powder

Other Ingredients
5 shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2-inch toasted belacan (I used Terasi ABC)
7 chilies
3 cups thick coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon seasoning powder
1 tablespoon sugar
Finely chopped cekur leaves

  1. Pound or grind our bumbu (marinate blend) coarsely and marinate the chicken for 1 hour. Grill the marinated chicken over low heat until it is fully cooked.
  2. Blend or pound shallots, garlic, toasted belacan, cekur, and chilies until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. In a pot, combine coconut milk, the blended paste, salt, sugar, and chopped cekur leaves. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the coconut milk from splitting.
  4. Once the mixture boils, add the grilled chicken. Simmer until the chicken is thoroughly infused with the coconut goodness.
  5. Once the chicken and coconut milk have come together perfectly, remove from heat and let it rest with the lid on.
Good to have all in one place, yes? ;) I was lucky enough to live in an area where everything is within reach. Now, it's your turn to savor the flavors of Ayam Masak Lemak Cekur. Happy cooking!


  1. Thank you for the recipe. Kena try. Btw, saya follow sini.


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