Easy Indonesian Chicken

Total Time
Prep 10 mins
Cook 35 mins

Wanted to keep this recipe a secret! But what the heck -- I enjoy Zaar so much, why be miserly?? Years ago I cut the recipe from a newspaper food column, and it hides, yellowed, in an old recipe scrapbook. I make it every now and then and I guarantee that it's a quick, easy, gourmet meal! The original recipe specified rice vinegar, but I use balsamic. EDITED ON JAN 8, 2010: Although I posted the recipe as I use it, it seems the 1 cup water specified caused problems for some cooks, so I've lessened the amount. If you use only 1/2 cup as below, do keep a close eye on the reducing sauce in case it thickens too much. And please -- DO taste the sauce before removing from the heat. Some people like it with more hot pepper, and some may want to tweak the other ingredients. Chicken breast is a little too dry for this recipe, so I stand by the point that thighs, even with skin, are the better option.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a fairly large pot, mix the water, sugar, balsamic vinegar, ketjap manis, garlic and chilli pepper sauce.
  2. Please note that because I use metric measurements I use a little more than 1/3 cup ketjap manis. It's hard to work out precisely. Ketjap manis are normally easily found in good shops, on the shelves with Oriental sauces.
  3. Ketjap manis is thick and sticky, so if you want to measure it in a cup, best is to spray the cup with non-stick spray. I pour from the bottle and guess the amount by now --.
  4. Cut each thigh into two pieces, or slice breasts into three or four pieces across the grain.
  5. We far prefer chicken thighs, which are more juicy and tasty than breast meat. Or use deboned breasts WITH the skin.
  6. Add to the sauce mixture, and bring to a boil. Simmer open, for about 25 minutes. If any scum rises to the surface, skim it off.
  7. Increase heat and cook sauce until it reduces and thickens, but don't let it cook down to a glaze: you want some sauce for the rice.
  8. (It used to be "1 cup water", but reading through the reviews, this was too much for some cooks, although it really is what I use).
  9. This reduction will only take 5 - 10 minutes or so: judge for yourself.
  10. Put the chicken and sauce in a heated dish, scatter over the spring onions and parsley, and decorate around the edges with the lime/lemon curls or strips.
  11. Serve with jasmine or white rice, but couscous is also nice. As for vegetables, a platter of steamed baby veggies such as corn, patty pan squash and carrots look attractive.
Most Helpful

This is good! Made it as stated and it tasted just as you would get in an Indonesian restaurant here. My sauce was nice and thick and it did not take too long to boil it down. I love using balsamic vinegar and was very pleased that you suggested that instead of the rice vinegar. The second time I made it I also added some chopped mushrooms. Served this over rice the first time and have also enjoyed it with potatoes and cous-cous. Since it is too much for one meal for the two of us I have frozen some and can "report" that it freezes well. Oh and thanks for mentioning metric measurements too! So much easier if you're used to it as we are here in Europe. Thanks for posting and for revealing your "secret recipe".

Chef Dudo September 28, 2008

I loved the food in Indonesia, so was excited to try this. We liked it, but I think it has potential for tweaking to make it better. I used only half the water (since others mentioned they had to boil it a long time to get a thick sauce), so the sauce was nice and thick for me at the 25 minute mark. I wish I had tasted it before I plated it, I would have added more chili sauce and some brown sugar and lime to balance out the strong flavor of the molasses. The sauce has a perfect sticky consistency, so I think toying with the end flavor could make this a very good dish.

Maito August 31, 2008

Oh, yum! I love Indonesian food, as we live at the Dutch border where you get it everywhere. This was right up our alley. I used my own homemade gluten free ketjap manis (tamari, beet molasses, pinch of five spice powder) and chicken breasts. They did get a little dry, next time I'll use thighs, and there will be a next time! We had it with steamed sugar peas and thai rice. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!<br/>Made for the Cook-A-Thon in memory of Gideon.

Mia in Germany January 26, 2014