I have postponed documenting this, simply because it is a long process and takes a while to recall the steps and put them down in words. But, why  not. Just in case someone out there needs it.

Every family has a different recipe, so mine’s just a version that is recalled from memory, and done according to my understanding of the ingredients and their behavior when put together. I didn’t copy anyone’s recipe or take reference to any recipe. This is loved by my family, and every time I go to a Peranakan restaurant to taste this, it tastes different in every single restaurant. The only common thing is the taste of the buah keluak. And even so, some people put more pork into it, some less, and some none.

Again, it is all about taste. No real ‘standard’ recipe.

A few things about this dish:

  1. Do not use rotten (of course) buah keluak, you will know when you break it and it smells horrible or looks horrible.
  2. I don’t like bitter buah keluak, so I taste a bit and remove the bitter ones and the bitter parts. If you don’t do this, the whole dish becomes bitter.
  3. Some recipes call for 1 day of soaking, some 5. I always do 3. Too long and I find it gets too pasty, and too short, I get scared that it is not properly detoxified.
  4. I soaked them in water, change the water everyday, and brush them everyday. On the last day, I add in some kaffir limes. Simply because one day, I was washing the buah keluak and I thought they smell extremely nice, that’s when I realized I had a cut kaffir lime nearby. So from then on, I will always add some lime the last day.
  5. There is no real documented way of cracking the nut. I just use the sharper end of the pestle. It work well, and easy.
  6. I will always pound the ingredients to make the spice paste. I reckon using the grinder works well too. But I don’t have a grinder in Singapore!
  7. Always let it sit for a night and eat it overnight. Therefore, it takes at least 4 days to cook this. Way too long, though you spend at most 10 minutes a day.






Ayam Buah Keluak


  • Legs wings and back of 1 Kampong chicken
  • 5-10 Buah Keluak
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 Tbsp oil

Tamarind juice

  • 1 golf ball sized tamarind
  • 1/2 cup of water

Spice paste (pound together)

  • 1 Lemon grass white part only
  • 1 Tbsp belachan toasted
  • 2 big red chilies
  • 2 red bird's eye chilies
  • 5 dried chilies according to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander ground
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp meat curry powder optional
  • 1/2 knob ginger
  • Zest of 1 kaffir lime optional
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 grape sized shallots
  • 2 slices lengkua blue ginger


  • For the buah keluak, you need to soak for 3 days, scrub each of them and change the water everyday.
  • On the 4th day, take them out and break the end with the sharper end of the pestle. Remove the flesh and discard the rotten ones and the bitter ones. Discard also the bitter parts. Chop up the flesh and season with sugar, salt and some pepper.
  • If you like, mix the flesh with some minced pork.
  • Meanwhile, boil the shells for 15-30 minutes, and then restuff the shells with the flesh.
  • Heat the oil in a pot to medium heat.
  • Add the spice paste, lemon grass and fry at low heat until the oil turns red. It takes about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken pieces stir through. Add the prepared nuts.
  • Lower the heat to the lowest.
  • Prepare the tamarind juice by massaging the tamarind into the water and then filter for the water only.
  • Add the tamarind juice to the chicken and buah keluak.
  • Simmer until chicken is cooked. I like to use very low heat.
  • When cooked, switch off and let it rest on the stove for not more than 8 hours. If you need to keep it longer, put it in the fridge.
  • Serve the dish hot with steamed rice.

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