Rendang-gate Masterchef Shares Her Ayam Masak Merah Recipe

Ayam Masak Merah, three words that make our stomachs sing in harmony. Ask any Malaysian and they could very well say that nothing tastes better with rice than ayam masak merah. We can just imagine the succulent moist chicken, coated with spicy gravy being eaten together with hot, fragrant rice. It really takes you back to your childhood.

However, to recreate such a classic dish abroad, where most of the common ingredients either cost you an arm and a leg or cannot be found anywhere at all, is not so simple.

Never Fear, Zaleha is Here

Zaleha Kadir Olpin, the Malaysian Masterchef UK contestant made popular by her rendang dish that went viral, knows all too well how frustrating this can be. During her first few weeks living in Australia, she realised just how much she missed Malaysian food and has gone to great lengths to recreate a taste of home.

In order to make Malaysians who have just moved overseas feel more at home, Zaleha wanted to share her very own modified Ayam Masak Merah recipe. It will surely take you back home with every bite you take.

So, enough moping about and let’s get cooking!



  • 1 whole small chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 pieces of bay leaves
  • 300g Coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced into rounds
  • 1 piece of chicken stock cube
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste


Spice A
  • 10 shallots
  • 10 dried chillies, deseed and soak in boiling water to soften
  • 5 red chillies
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • ½ cup of water




  1. Blend Spice A ingredients to a fine paste and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wok and fry Spice A. Fry and keep adding water a little bit at a time and cook till slightly dry and oil separates from the paste. This means the chillies are now fully cooked.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and leave to boil for 5 minutes. Then pop in the sliced turmeric leaves and chicken and cook for another 20 minutes or till chicken is cooked. Again, wait till the oil separates on top to make sure the spice is fully cooked.
  4. Garnish with crispy shallots



Give the recipe a try and let us know all about it. Does it taste any different than what you are used to back home? If you want more of Zaleha Kadir Olpin,  catch her on MasterChef UK series 14 exclusively on BBC Lifestyle (unifi ch 512). The series will also be on BBC Player ( as catch-up. By the way, the BBC Player is free to all unifi Broadband subscribers for 30 days. So, don’t miss out!

Butterkicap Team

We're just a small group of friends who love food, culture and Malaysia. We saw the rise of mediocre food, deteriorating relationships and missed the good old days of Malaysia where food was good, homes were warmer and full of friends and family. So we rolled up our sleeves, and made Butterkicap with the hope that it will bring people and flavors home.

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