Amazing Chicken With Kaffir Lime Leaves (Ayam Limau Purut)

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Chicken With Lime Leaves (Ayam Limau Purut)

Malaysian, Mains, Nyonya

5.0 from 1 vote

Chicken with Kaffir Lime Leaves is a beloved dish in Malaysia, particularly in Nyonya cuisine. This rich and flavorful curry combines creamy, spicy, and tangy flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. The star ingredient, kaffir lime leaves, adds a delightful fragrance, while asam gelugor provides a unique tanginess. If you can’t find asam gelugor, don’t worry – we’ll provide a substitute option for you.

What is Nyonya Cuisine?

Nyonya cuisine, also known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese cuisine, is a fusion of Chinese, Malay, and Indonesian influences. It emerged from the intermarriage between Chinese immigrants and local Malays in the 15th century. Nyonya cuisine is known for its bold and complex flavors, combining spices and ingredients from different cultures.

chicken with kaffir lime leaves recipe
Chicken with kaffir Lime Leaves Recipe

The Origin of the Term “Nyonya”

The term “Nyonya” refers to the female descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled in the Malay Archipelago during the 15th and 16th centuries. These Chinese immigrants married local Malay women and their descendants became known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese.

Nyonya cuisine emerged as these Chinese-Malay families combined ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavors from their respective cultures. This unique culinary tradition has been passed down through generations, preserving its distinct flavors and techniques.

Flavors and Ingredients

Nyonya cuisine is characterized by its bold and complex flavors, combining the spiciness of Malay cuisine with the savory and aromatic qualities of Chinese cooking. The use of aromatic herbs and spices such as lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and kaffir lime leaves is common in Nyonya recipes.

Some staple ingredients in Nyonya cuisine include coconut milk, tamarind, belacan (shrimp paste), and fermented soybean products. These ingredients are used to create rich and flavorful curries, stews, and stir-fries.

nyonya dishes
Nyonya dishes

1. Assam Laksa: Assam Laksa is a tangy and spicy noodle soup made with a fish-based broth flavored with tamarind, lemongrass, and galangal. It is served with rice noodles, cucumber, pineapple, and mint leaves. The combination of sour, spicy, and savory flavors makes it a favorite among Nyonya food enthusiasts.

2. Chicken Pongteh: Chicken Pongteh is a classic Nyonya dish made with chicken, potatoes, and fermented soybean paste. The dish is slow-cooked until the chicken becomes tender and the flavors meld together. The result is a hearty and flavorful dish that pairs well with steamed rice.

3. Chap Chai: Chap Chai is a vegetarian stir-fry dish that showcases the influence of Chinese cuisine in Nyonya cooking. It typically consists of a variety of vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu, stir-fried with garlic, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. The dish is simple yet flavorful, making it a popular choice for those seeking a lighter option.

4. Kuih Dadar: Kuih Dadar is a sweet Nyonya dessert made with pandan-flavored crepes filled with grated coconut cooked in palm sugar. The combination of the fragrant pandan crepes and the sweet coconut filling creates a delightful treat that is often enjoyed as a snack or dessert.

5. Ayam Buah Keluak: Ayam Buah Keluak is a signature Nyonya dish featuring chicken cooked with buah keluak, a type of black nut found in Southeast Asia. The nut is fermented and then cooked with spices and aromatics to create a rich and flavorful sauce. This dish is often enjoyed with steamed rice.

Preserving Nyonya Cuisine

As the world becomes more interconnected, the popularity of Nyonya cuisine has spread beyond its traditional roots. Restaurants and food enthusiasts around the globe are embracing the unique flavors and techniques of Nyonya cooking.

Efforts are being made to document and preserve Nyonya recipes, ensuring that this rich culinary heritage continues to thrive. Cooking classes, recipe books, and online resources are helping to pass down the knowledge and techniques associated with Nyonya cuisine to future generations.

The Ayam Limau Purut Ingredients

Before we dive into the Chicken With Kaffir Lime Leaves recipe, let’s take a look at the key ingredients:

  • Chicken: You can use bone-in or boneless chicken pieces, depending on your preference.
  • Curry paste: Prepare a flavorful paste by blending onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, dried chilies, and spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin.
  • Kaffir lime leaves: These aromatic leaves add a citrusy fragrance to the curry. They are widely available in Asian grocery stores.
  • Asam gelugor: Asam gelugor is a dried fruit native to Malaysia. It provides a tangy flavor to the curry. If you can’t find it, you can substitute it with lime juice.
  • Coconut milk: This creamy ingredient balances out the spiciness of the curry and adds richness to the dish.
  • Other seasonings: Fish sauce, sugar, and salt are used to enhance the flavors of the curry.

Now, let’s get cooking! Follow these simple steps to prepare Chicken With Kaffir Lime Leaves:

Curry Chicken With Kaffir Lime Leaves

Amazing Chicken With Kaffir Lime Leaves (Ayam Limau Purut)

Recipe by HolisticJB
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: Entrees, MainsCuisine: Malaysian, SingaporeanDifficulty: Intermediate


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This is an amazing chicken recipe, and in English translates as chicken cooked in lime and lemongrass sauce. It is absolutely delicious, very aromatic and is relatively easy to make (if you don’t mind getting your fingers messy to de-seed some Tamarind).

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  • For The Curry
  • 750 g Chicken

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 500 ml water

  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp

  • 1 stick Lemongrass

  • 125 ml coconut milk

  • 125 ml water

  • 7 Kaffir Lime Leaves

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp lime juice

  • For The Spice Paste (Rempah)
  • 20 dried red chillies

  • 1 onion

  • 5 garlic cloves

  • 5 stick lemongrass

  • 5 tsp galangal

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder


  • Soaking The Red Chillies
  • Boil the first measure of water. Then, using a sharp knife or scissors, cut the chillies into 2 or 3 pieces, and add them to a bowl.
  • Pour your freshly boiled, now hot, water onto the cut chilis, leaving a little for the tamarind below. Cover and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the tamarind.
  • Prepare and Soak the Tamarind
  • Place the tamarind pulp into a small bowl. Pour enough hot water over the pulp ensuring that all of it is fully covered. Cover the bowl and set it aside until needed for cooking.
  • When it’s time to use the tamarind, firstly mash the soaked and now very soft pulp with a fork, or with your fingers. Make sure you keep all the soft and gooey pulp, and only remove the seeds and any fiber from the shell that may have slipped in. Throw the fiber’s and seeds away, but make sure you keep as much pulp as possible, trust me this stuff is delicious! Once done you will pour the tamarind juice over the sambal. (Just not yet!) Most recipes call for you to strain this through a sieve, but my plea is don’t strain it, as you’ll lose too much of the good stuff. Just ensure all the seed, fiber and shell is picked out (and that’s simple). You can see in the photo how smooth it will be!
  • Make the Spice Paste (the Rempah)
  • Now peel the onion and chop it roughly into chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Prepare 5 of the 6 lemongrass stalks. Cut off the hard tops, and the root end. The slice into circles or chunks. It doesn’t need to be perfect as its going in a blender. Prepare the top and tail of the last lemongrass stalk, but don’t chop it up. Simply whack one the root end to bust and bruise it. The set it aside. Finally prepare the galangal by rubbing the skin off and slicing it into chunks or rings. Place all of this into a food processor. (but not that final stalk of lemongrass)
  • Drain the chilis that you have been soaking. Rinse them under fresh water and if you don’t like spice, wash or shake out the seeds. Placed the drained chilis into your blender with the rest of the rempah. Add the turmeric powder to the blender. Now place the cover on the blender and blitz until you achieve a fine paste. Don’t worry too much if you have bigger pieces of chili remaining, this will cook out and break down. But make sure all the other ingredients are blended finely. Don’t be tempted to add water, the juice from your onion will add plenty of liquid!
  • Cook The Curry
  • Heat the oil on medium heat in a wok or saucepan and stir-fry the rempah paste and the stalk of bruised lemongrass. Cook until the paste starts to darken, is fragrant and the oils begin to separate. Add the chicken portions and coat them with the spice paste. Allow the chicken to seal so that the majority of the exposed flesh is white rather than pink. Pour in the coconut milk, the second measure of water and the tamarind pulp you prepared earlier.
  • Tear 5 of your kaffir lime leaves once on each side and drop them into the wok or saucepan, along with the salt. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the chicken is done. Add the last 2 kaffir lime leaves 5 minutes before the end of cooking time.
  • Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Turn the chicken off the heat and finish by stirring in the freshly squeezed lime juice. Add 1 Tbsp, taste and then add more if it needs it, or if you like it! Now leave the chicken to rest for 10 – 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


  • Always source and use fresh spices for your rempah (spice paste)

Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size: 1g
  • Calories: 438kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Protein: 25g
  • Fat: 32g
  • Saturated Fat: 12g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2g
  • Cholesterol: 94mg
  • Sodium: 388mg
  • Potassium: 571mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Iron: 0mg

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Whether you’re a seasoned food lover or a curious culinary explorer, Nyonya cuisine offers a delightful journey into the flavors and cultural heritage of Southeast Asia. From tangy and spicy soups to hearty stews and sweet treats, Nyonya recipes are sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

Enjoy the Flavors of Malaysia

Chicken Curry with Kaffir Lime Leaves is a delightful dish that showcases the vibrant flavors of Malaysia. The combination of creamy coconut milk, aromatic kaffir lime leaves, and tangy asam gelugor (or lime juice) creates a harmonious balance of taste sensations.

Whether you’re a fan of Nyonya cuisine or simply looking to explore new flavors, this recipe is a must-try. Gather the ingredients, follow the steps, and savor the deliciousness of Chicken Curry with Kaffir Lime Leaves in the comfort of your own home.

So, what are you waiting for? Put on your apron and embark on a culinary adventure to Malaysia with this mouthwatering chicken curry recipe!


ayam / chicken / curry / galangal / kaffir lime / lemongrass

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