Ayam Masak Merah / Chicken cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce

June 26, 2018
Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce/ Ayam Masak Merah is a delicious Malaysian dish to be enjoyed during festive and weddings.

Ayam masak merah photo

What is Ayam masak merah?

To me... Ayam masak merah is a dish that brings back sweet childhood memories.

Ayam masak merah is a simple dish of fried chicken pieces, cooked in spiced tomato soup with coconut milk based gravy.

Its has that creamy, rich taste from coconut milk, heat from chilli paste, a hint of galangal and lemongrass and the crucial ingredients in making Ayam masak merah .. its the tomato soup.

So I guess its apt to translate this Ayam masak merah to Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce.

Chicken in spiced tomato sauce photo

I hailed from northern part of Malaysia, a state known as Kedah.

In this part of Malaysia,  Ayam masak merah / Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce, is not our everyday dish.
For most of us, fish is our staple protein. We'd either have fried fish (yums) for lunch and dinner with sambal, or have some delicious fish curry or steam fish.

Having chicken or beef for lunch or dinner is a REAL treat :D

Ayam masak merah / Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce is only for special occasions like weddings, Eid or close family and friends come visiting.

When I think of Ayam masak merah / Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce, I think of  weddings! or vice versa :P

When I was about 7 until about the age of 10, my mom used to take my younger brother and I, to weddings. The olden days Malay wedding, guests were served with at least 4 dishes and savoury rice.

Common dishes at weddings to serve guests...  were beef kurma, cucumber and pineapple salad or achar, beef and lentils (known as dalca) and Ayam masak merah / Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce.

I was happy to see a plate of Ayam masak merah placed in front of me...
At that time...
How I wish that my brother would go and sit with my dad or my mom didn't bring him along, so I can have more share of the delicious Ayam Masak Merah :P
LOL, my brother doesn't read my blog :P so I am safe here hahahaha

Malaysian fried chicken cooked in spiced tomato sauce

Ayam masak merah / Chicken cooked in Spiced tomato sauce is neither chicken curry nor  chicken rendang.

I put up a quick easy to follow video below.... for anyone who wishes to try this delicious Ayam Masak Merah.

This dish goes well with savoury rice or tomato rice.

Chicken in Spiced tomato sauce serve with tomato rice

Ayam masak Merah, Chicken in spiced tomato sauce, fried chicken, Malaysian ayam masak merah
Yield: 8-10 servings

Chicken in Spiced Tomato Sauce/ Ayam Masak Merah

Chicken in Spiced tomato sauce/ Ayam Masak Merah is a delicious Malaysian dish to be enjoyed during festive and weddings. Its neither chicken curry nor rendang. It is distinctively different, be it in the texture of the chicken or the tantalizing delicious flavours of the spicy tomato-based sauce.


  • 1.5 kg to 2 kg chicken pieces
  • 20 dried chillies – soaked 
  • 2 red onion 
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 40g ginger 
  • 25g galangal (lengkuas) 
  • 5 lemongrass
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 inch of cinnamon
  • 3 cardamom
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying plus ¼ cup extra.
  • 1 cup of peas (optional)


  1. Preparing Chicken - rub chicken with turmeric and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Heat up the oil in a wok and deep fry the chicken pieces until golden incolour. Set aside.
  2. Roughly chopped red onion, ginger, galangal and lemongrass, then transfer to a blender or food processors. Add in chillies and garlic. Process into a paste. 
  3. Heat up the wok with ½ cup of oil. 
  4. Sauté the spices : Cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom until fragrant. 
  5. Then add in the blended paste. 
  6. Bring the heat up until the paste bubble then lower the heat. 
  7. Simmer till the paste is thoroughly cooked, fragrant and the oil separates from the paste (pecah minyak).  
  8. Add in canned tomato soup, coconut milk and chicken pieces. 
  9. Bring up the heat for a quick boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickened. 
  10. Add peas and season with salt to taste.

  11. Garnish with some spring onion before serving (optional)
  12. Serve steam rice or tomato rice.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. Looks too yummy and I love chicken alot!!!!!
    I hope even you would like ours :


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