Esther Lew








Ayam Buah Keluak by Candlenut

Considered a classic traditional dish for special occasions,  Head Chef Malcolm Lee elevates it with his personal touch at one-Michelin-starred Candlenut. Chef Lee gets his ingredients from either Tekka Market or Geylang Serai Market for the freshness and the convenience of being able to get everything at a go, and he serves it simply, garnished with strands of Togarashi red hair. Home cooks may serve it with some garlic or finely cut lemongrass.

buah keluak - peranakan dishes, peranakan cuisine - meat topped with spice mix and thick gravy


Buah Keluak Rempah

Serves 6 to 9
Prep Time: 1 hr 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hr

Ayam Buah Keluak

Serves 2 to 3
Prep TIme: 1 hr
Cook Time: 45 min



Buah Keluak Rempah

12g Galangal
30g Turmeric
30g Candlenut
150g Shallot
55g Garlic
20g Belachan (raw)
25g Lemongrass (Bottom third part only)
100g Dried Chilli
250g Oil

Peel and chop galangal, turmeric, candlenut, shallot, garlic.
Boil dried chilli in hot water for 15 min, drain and chop finely.
Pound all ingredients with a mortar and pestle or blend in a food blender until a fine paste is formed.
Heat oil over medium heat and fry the paste till dry, fragrant and oil split from the paste.
Put aside to use for later.

Cut the rempah ingredients finely so that it’ll take much lesser time to pound them into a spice paste with a pestle and mortar. The finer the paste, the more the flavours will be released and the more aromatic the dish will be.
When frying, stir constantly to prevent it from burning – till it’s nicely caramelised and fragrant.



Whole Buah Keluak Nuts, 6 pcs

500g Chicken
50gBuah keluak rempah
50g Buah keluak meat
2 tbsp Oil
400ml Water
15g Tamarind Paste (Assam)
2g Salt
2g Sugar
2 pcs Kaffir lime leaf
1 pc Lemongrass (bruised)

Crack open the whole buah keluak nuts from the “lips” with a pestle or a small hammer. Remove small bits of shell. Set aside.

Choose buah keluak nuts that are heavier, as the light ones tend to be dry and don’t have much meat.
As it is poisonous when raw, make sure to scrub thoroughly and to soak for 5 days in the chiller, with water changed daily.
When opened, it should smell like dark chocolate or coffee.


1. Heat oil over a medium low heat, fry rempah and the buah keluak nut meat for 1 minute till fragrant.
2. Add in the chicken, bruised lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Add in water, salt and sugar, tamarind and the reserved whole buah keluak nuts.
4. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning accordingly.
5. Ready to serve.

For more flavour, marinate the chicken with salt and turmeric powder.
• Fry the chicken in the rempah for deeper flavours.
Simmer the chicken in just enough water. If there’s too much water, the chicken will turn out bland.
Be careful not to overcook the chicken. The flesh should be just about cooked through and firm, not fall-off-the-bone tender.
For more rounded flavours, let the chicken rest before serving. For the best results, keep the Ayam Buah Keluak in the fridge for at least a day, reheat and serve.






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