Chicken, known locally as ayam, is a very popular dish all over Indonesia, and is eaten with more regularity than duck (bebek), pork (babi), or fish (ikan). Interestingly, though, when it comes to ayam, each region of the country seems to have its own specialities and methods of cooking. Ayam can be used as part of a main course, added to a simple noodle dish, and sometimes even the bones can be eaten!
On my travels around Indonesia, I can recall sitting on a rooftop terrace of my hotel in Yogyakarta and I could hear the chirping sounds of chickens, roosters, and cockerels nearby. Upon closer inspection, I realised that beneath me, just across the road, there were many of these birds being kept in small cages , presumably ready to be killed and cooked, but also there is the possibility they first would be used for cock fighting.
Bubur Ayam is a breakfast dish made with shredded chicken. Many Indonesians like to begin their day with this form of ayam!
Ayam Bakar is classic chargrilled chicken and is a very popular dish in Sumatra and Java. It is a slightly healthier option compared to ayam goreng (deep fried chicken). It is common to see Ayam Bakar being served up at warungs across Indonesia’s major cities.
Ayam Pelalah is a classic Balinese dish and is basically shredded chicken (that is not intended for breakfast). Unlike other more fulsome ayam meals listed here, Ayam Pelalah offers more of a stir fry option, or something to include with mixed rice.
Mie Ayam is a chicken noodle dish and this can be eaten at any time of the day. Originally a Chinese influence, now eaten all over the country. Often eaten with bakso.
Ayam Taliwang is a very spicy form of grilled chicken, that came to fame on the island of Lombok. During the cooking phase, the chicken is dipped in a spicy sauce of garlic, chili, and shrimp paste, and then additionally coated with sambal when served at the dinner table. Other areas of Indonesia have their own versions (like the original ayam bakar from Java), but they like it hot in Lombok!
Ayam Goreng is generic term for Indonesian fried chicken – usually as wings or drumsticks – and is probably the most popular chicken dish in South East Asia. Unlike fried chicken from other countries, Ayam Goreng lacks a lot of batter (sometimes has none), and is often coated in spices and sambal.
Ayam Tulang Lunak is native to the Yogyakarta area of Java. It is especially prepared and cooked so that it becomes so moist you can even eat the bones! It may look similar to other kinds of chicken, but the notoriety is all in the succulent softness! Eating the bones of ayam tulang lunak is known to increase calcium intake and it is completely safe.
Opor Ayam is a chicken curry of sorts, braised in coconut milk. The drumsticks are coated with the spicy curry and are usually eaten by hand. Sometimes called “Kari Ayam”.
Ayam Penyet is the ultimate smash and grab and is literally “smashed chicken” (with a mortar and pestle) and it can be served almost whole or in pieces! A fast food staple, this is very popular in Java, and it actually originated in the city of Surabaya.
Sate Ayam is chicken satay and is a very popular snack or street food all over Indonesia, and even in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines.
I have tried many variants of ayam myself, although regretfully some of them were in Singapore, so perhaps not truly authentic, but I still got enough of the taste of these mother cluckers to truly say that ‘ayam addicted’! But whatever ayam you try, don’t forget the sambal!
For more Indo food goodness, check out my previous post Indonesian Foodporn!