I was instantly attracted to Mandira's Betutu Ayyam (Indonesian stuffed whole chicken) . Mandira is so clever to enhance the flavor further by adding cilantro, green bell peppers and browning the chicken prior roasting. I wouldn't want to change a single thing in the ingredients which are already perfectly formulated, except the cooking method. Nothing wrong in hers, only because of the very exceptional warm weather this winter ... believe or not I just had sunbath this afternoon, thinking of past winters I hibernating under snow... I opted for grill. And instead of whole, cut-up chicken was used, so family of any size can cook as many or as less as they want.
In this case, wrapping the chicken in banana leaves is essential. It will definitely flavor the meat, and make the cooking time much shorter as the wrapper traps the steaming heat. The chicken is certainly more juicy too! One more final touch to finish, after the meat was cooked, I took the leaves out and directly grilled the meat for a couple minutes to create crunchy bites and beautiful grill marks outside.
- 3 Tbps lime juice
- 1 Tbp + 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 4 - red chilli (I skipped it)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 fresh lemon grass stick (I used 2 tsps dried powder, available at Asian store)
- 1 green bell pepper
- 3 shallots
- 1 tsp mince ginger
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup cashew nuts
- 2 Tbps oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
A few banana leaves (in the area I live, they're available at frozen section of Asian supermarket, only a dollar for a big pack, imported from the Philippines)
Marinate the chicken pieces with lime juice, 1 tbp sugar, salt, turmeric and chilli powder for an hour in room temperature, an half day if in fridge.
Process the cilantro, shallots, green peppers, garlic, ginger, cashew nuts to paste. Combine it with oil, lemon grass powder, sugar, salt and pepper, rub it over the chicken pieces. Wrap the meat up with banana leaves like parcel, secure with string.
Lay the parcels on grill over medium heat. I didn't time it, the breast I think might take 20 minutes (unwrap to check or use a meat thermometer). The legs, depending the size, much longer. And for the legs, I placed a heavy empty pot on top to press the meat down so it could cook evenly. Personally I found the breast able to bring out the flavor beautifully, much better than the legs.
After the meat all done, let them rest inside the leaves for 15 minutes before open (let the meat juice settle). Unwrap, grill the meat over high heat for about 2 - 3 minutes.