Ayam Masak Habang is a classic dish from Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan) that often sell at many eateries in the area with nasi kuning (yellow rice). To translate its name literally, ayam means chicken; masak means to cook or cooked and habang means red.
Most Indonesian recipes apply fresh red cayenne peppers, however this recipe uses dried forms to get a darker red colour. In this case you can also use ground red chilies.
For those who live in Java island, this recipe may remind you of Ayam Bumbu Rujak. After comparing some ingredients, this Ayam Masak Habang is more similar to Riau and Malaysian Ayam Masak Merah which is actually the same meaning for merah and habang. Riau is a region in Indonesia which has many Malay (Melayu) population. The use of cinnamon and cloves are flavouring Ayam Masak Habang and Ayam Masak Merah.
Ayam Masak Habang
Adapted from Ayam Hintalu Masak Habang
1 kg chicken pieces (thighs, drumstick, breast bone in and skin on)
5 salam (Indonesian bay) leaves
4 cm cinnamons
300mL boiled water
100mL cooking oil
Spices to be ground:
3 cm ginger, peeled
125 grams shallots
100 grams garlics
3 tablespoons ground red chili pepper, soaked in a small amount of hot water
4 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (terasi), roasted
2 tablespoons tamarind, dissolved in small amount of water
Drizzle lime over the chickens. Let sit in the fridge while you’re preparing your spices for grinding
Soak the roasted dried shrimp paste in tamarind liquid. Then you can start grind all the spices that to be ground with a food processor.
Heat up your wok, add the cooking oil then stir fry the ground spices, salam leaves, cinnamons, and cloves. Add coconut sugar. You can add more if you want a darker colour.
Toss in the chicken pieces, keep stirring until chicken turns colour. Add the boiled water. Cook until the sauce thickens and reduce the heat to low. Once the sauce is oily and drier, remove from the heat. Ready to serve with nasi kuning.