Ayam Kalio Recipe

Did you know that Ayam Kalio is actually compromised rendang?!!!

A proper rendang has no gravy, just very thick moist glob of cooked spices. Therefore, Kalio is only cooked half way through the rendang process with some sauce.

So what is half-way? The minute the chicken is tender and oil separates from the coconut gravy, it is accepted as a Kalio.

**If you like a watered down version, simmer the chicken till the gravy is half reduced. If you like very lemak (rich) gravy, reduce the curry until about one quarter is left or any consistency to your desire. That’s the beauty of Asian cooking. Everything can be tailored to your heart’s content if you’re not a stickler to “authenticity”. 😀

I used to help and watch my maternal grandma cook when she was alive. Menial chores like peeling and pounding rempah ingredients naturally became my assignments. She liked to use light soy and thus in my curries, I also employ light soy which is uncommon in curries. If you also want to experiment with this seasoning, add some light soy first and then adjust the salt accordingly. It is very hard to describe how much as I was taught to cook by sight and feel so I pour from the bottle. You can try adding by one teaspoon at a time until half way through the desired savouriness then add salt, to finish up the desired taste.

This recipe is adapted from my grandma’s cooking in the olden days where prepared ingredients are not so readily available. We had to do almost everything from scratch so please see instructions below.

Ayam Kalio Recipe

Ayam Kalio.

Ayam Kalio Recipe

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1½kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces (wash the chicken and let dry in colander, set aside).
750ml Coconut Milk (2nd Milk).
500ml Coconut Cream (1st Milk).
2pcs Assam Gelugur, (Tamarind Skin), optional but I like the tang it lends.
2 Tumeric leaves, knotted (substitute with Bay Leaves if cannot find overseas or simply leave out).
5 Kaffir Lime Leaves, (slightly torn to release essential oil just before cooking).
4 Lemongrass, crushed (use the lower white part only).
6 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying (more if needed, you can skim off excess later).
Fried Shallots, for garnishing.

Rempah (raw ground spice ingredients):
15 Shallots, peel off skin.
5 cloves Garlic, peel off skin.
2-3 tbsp Chilli paste (or use 15 pcs of whole red chillies, deseeded if you want less spicy, and blend with a little water and blend till fine).
1 tbsp coriander seeds (dry roasted in pan or oven or buy ready prepared from Indian grocer).
8 Candlenuts, dry roasted in pan or oven (may substitute with almonds or macadamia nuts if cannot find this overseas, use double the amount).
*1 thumb length Turmeric, dry roasted in pan or oven (or substitute with 1 heaped teaspoon Tumeric powder).
5cm Galangal, dry roasted in pan or oven.
Salt, 1 tbsp (more or less to your taste).
Sugar, 3 tbsp (more or less to your taste).

Pound in pestle and mortar, or grind the ingredients for the spice paste in a blender till fine. If you have problem blending in machine, use 1 or 2 tablespoon of oil/water to help along.

*An average thumb length of 2.74 inches in men and 2.49 in women so for uniformity in recipes, I shall use 5cm.

1. Heat oil in a wok, add the rempah, turmeric leaves, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. As you cook, oil will be absorbed into the rempah. It is ready when the rempah become rich in colour and oil starts to ooze out again.

2. Add chicken to the wok, stir well and mix until the chicken becomes opaque.

3. Pour in the 1st coconut milk little by little, stirring slowly and scraping the bottom of wok to prevent rempah from sticking. Add half teaspoon salt at this stage.

4. Once the chicken is half cooked, slowly drizzle in the coconut cream. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Continue simmering, and stirring every now and then, until the chicken becomes tender and gravy has thickened (see ** or use the photo as guideline).

5. Adjust final seasoning with salt and sugar to taste. Skim off the layer of oil if you don’t like it too oily.

6.Serve hot with steamed rice.

We used to buy real coconuts from the wet market and then extract the milk. For this recipe, I would need one to one and a half whole old coconut (believed to be more lemak). The wet market vendor will shave the coconut in a machine for you.

Coconut Cream (1st Milk)
Without adding water to the shaven/desiccated coconut, put them portion by portion in a muslin cloth and squeeze for 1st milk until you have the indicated amount in the recipe. Strain to remove any bits of coconut and keep aside in a bowl.

Coconut Milk (2nd Milk)
Add one cup of water to the used coconut shavings and squeeze for 2nd milk. Repeat the process until you have the required amount for use in recipe.

If you are using Packaged Coconut Cream (i.e. Kara), buy a 500ml pack. Mix 250ml coconut cream with 500ml water and use it as 2nd milk. Then use the remaining 250ml cream as 1st milk.

We used fresh spice ingredients in the olden days (about 40- 50 years ago no supermarket with assorted bottles/tubes/tubs of ground pastes). Some spices would need to be dry roasted (without oil) in wok, no oven at that time, either that or we were too poor to own one, before I grind them in batu giling or pound in pestle and mortar (no blender, such luxury we have today). Dry fry over low heat until the spices becomes fragrant or pungent in the case of belacan. Lol…

I like to use a bit of salt during cooking to extract the natural “sweetness” from the meat. The taste will be different, better! than when you do final seasoning. It (flavour) penetrates into the dish.

Fried Shallots & Oil – Peel off the skin, wash and dry the shallots. Slice as many shallots as you possibly can because fried shallots are so yummy but the slicing of raw shallots stings your eyes. Then fry them in a lot of oil until golden. Scoop them up with a mesh flat colander, to drain off excess oil, onto a tray lined with kitchen towel. They will continue to turn darker in colour. Let them cool completely and store in airtight container. You may keep the oil that you have used for frying the shallots (in sterilised jars) for other dishes like omelet or stir-fry vegetables. You can also add a few drops to perfume soups, steamed fish and porridge. The cooked oil’s function is not unlike sesame, garlic or even the fancy truffle oil.

Happy cooking, eating and bonding 🙂

4 Responses to “Ayam Kalio Recipe”
  1. A recipe that I think I want to try…
    after I talk to the Boss …
    will let you know if we try too do it …

  2. Angela N says:

    It’s wonderful to see the old school Asian way of cooking from scratch illustrated here. That’s is the way I have been taugh to cook by my mum in Singapore, and till today I still lament the difficulty in finding freshly grated coconut outside of Asia when I want to make a special dish for friends and family. It just taste so much better with all that hand squeezed love from freshly grated coconut!

    • Sam Han says:

      Hi Angela, if you can get hold of real coconut fruit, you can grate them using a box grater and then squeeze milk out of it. But if you can’t, then unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes may do the trick. Coconut Milk Powder has “truer” taste compared to the boxed/canned coconut milk. I totally agree that nothing beats freshly grated coconut! Cheers! 🙂

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