How to make ayam masak merah (Malaysian spicy tomato chicken)

May 24, 2017
Urban Adventures

In Malaysia, the breaking of the Ramadan fast is called berbuka puasa (you probably know it as iftar), and in Kuala Lumpur, the mosques around the city put out berbuka puasa spreads. They’ll normally have something simple, like a sweet drink, and maybe some dates and kuih, which are Malaysian local cakes. The tradition is to eat something light first, then after that you perform your Maghrib prayers, you enjoy a heavier meal before going for your Isyak and Terawih prayers, which are said to bring you good blessings.

This spicy tomato chicken dish, called ayam masak merah, was given to us by our local guide Farah; it’s her sister-in-law’s personal recipe and one that she recommends for an authentic Malaysian berbuka puasa.


  • 6 large Bombay onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 2 inches turmeric
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 10 pieces fresh red chilies
  • 1 medium-sized chicken cut into 12 pieces
  • 6 large tomatoes, puréed
  • 100 ml concentrated coconut milk


1. Blend the onions, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, and chilies into a paste.

2. Sauté the blended paste until fragrant and the oil floats on top of the ingredients.

3. Add the chicken pieces and the puréed tomatoes. Fry and mix well.

4. When the chicken is almost fully cooked, pour in the coconut milk.

5. Reduce heat and let it simmer. Add salt to taste.

6. Serve with white rice.

Ramadan kareem!

Tastes of Ramadan

This seasonal Kuala Lumpur walking tour begins with a special tasting of local Malay cuisine. Although it is Ramadan, you won’t have to wait until sunset to enjoy a feast of Malay delicacies including nasi kerabu (a vegetarian rice dish), curries and delicious desserts like bubur pisang (sweet banana pudding).