I guess the best way to describe Ayam Masak Merah would be ~ Fried Chicken cooked in rich-creamy Spicy-Tomato sauce.
Mentioned Ayam Masak Merah to a Kedahan (Kedah is a state in the far North of Malaysia), would immediately evoke memories of ‘Traditional Malay Weddings’ and perhaps Hari Raya / Eid Celebration.
Yes… Ayam Masak Merah is not an everyday affair in a typical household in Kedah. It is a unique dish to be enjoyed on special occasions… served with Nasi Minyak / Savoury Rice, fresh salad of cucumber, pineapple, cut-up chillies and red onions.
Ayam Masak Merah has unique flavours, the taste is beautiful and unforgettable although it shares some basic similar spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise and chillies) to Chicken Curry. It is distinctively different, be it in the texture of the chicken or the tantalizing flavours in the sauce.
The chicken pieces are rubbed in with turmeric and salt and are deep fried till golden in colour. Deep frying seals the juice as well as it gives the chicken pieces, a firmer texture to every bite. The pieces are then added to the simmering sauce. This gives the chicken, its rich flavour, with its subtle heat from the chillies, sweet and sour-ish taste from the tomato soup combine with creaminess from coconut milk.
Moslems in Malaysia and around the world will be celebrating Hari Raya Aidil Fitri,/ Eid Mubarak soon, perhaps Ayam Masak Merah could be one of the dish that you might want to cook and join in the Celebration.
The recipe for Ayam Masak Merah courtesy from my sister... who happened to be a great cook.
I am submitting this to Suresh Chong of 3 Hungry Tummies for the Muhibbah Malaysia Monday..