Saturday, January 06, 2007

Grilled chicken in banana leaves Indonesian style

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.

Original recipe is from Mandira from Ahaar

Ingredients (enough to coat 2 - 3 breasts and 2 drumsticks)

  • 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.


Anh said...


I am attracted to this recipe, too. Will cook it when time permits. :) Great improvisations on the recipe, and lovely photos!

Kalyn Denny said...

Gattina, your blog is looking awesome, and I love the new name. This recipe sounds great. I don't think I've seen banana leaves, but they would be fun to use like this. It sounds like you are enjoying your new grill.

You are sweet to mention the award nomination. Really I'm quite honored to be in the running with the others in my category.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Delish! I can almost smell the wondeful aromas here. As always the phots are just good enough to eat too!

FH said...

Beautiful Gattina.Love the new look of your blog!:)

Great photography as usual.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, this looks so good :) And I can't help but smile at what you wrote in your profile, kekeke

Anonymous said...

The new look is catchy and very cool :) This dish looks delicious - but I have no idea where I could get banana leaves in a climate such as mine :(

Patricia Scarpin said...

Gattina, this chicken must taste fantastic!

I've had fish made this way, inside banana leaves, and it was delicious.

I love the way you give us info on every detail, it's a lot easier to picture the making of the recipe!

Shah cooks said...

I am still getting used to ur new look. Check out what I created with your recipe.:)Thanks!

Burcu said...

Hey Gattina I was in Turkey for a long time and didn't have time to check on blogs, but what a nice surprise! Your blog's new look is awesome :)

Gattina Cheung said...

Anh, thanks for your compliment! For me cooking (and eating) a couple pieces of meat is much more managable than a whole bird :D

Kalyn, you really deserve the normination (and more!)!

Sher, thanks! Then I know what I will bring you if we have a chance to meet :D

Meeta, you are always so sweet!

Asha, big hug to you!!!

Angie, thanks! I see your gorgeous bread but have a little problem to sign in (comment), will do it again later.

Ellie, oh see any banana tree around, hehee... just kidding lah. Any chance to swing by China Town, may like to check out those bigger grocery stores?

Pat, oh tell me about that! Love it a ton too for fish! The flavor would sing on my tongue!

Shaheen... changed your nick? Saw your post, really wonderful! Your post written so good always worth me reading at least twice, will leave my comment later :D

Burcu, you've (and your great recipes) been missed!!! Happy to see you back!

Anonymous said...

New Year, New Look! Love it!

Love this recipe, too.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow! That looks fantastic.
BTW - love the new look of your blog. I thought I was in the wrong place at first!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm . . . looks fragrant and wonderful. The chicken looks so moist! I look forward to trying out this yummy recipe.

Anonymous said...

It looks good, I'm just allergic to half the ingredients though :(

Anonymous said...

hey, glad you enjoyed a tasty indonesian dish!

Mandira said...

gattina, the chicken looks amazing. Thanks for mentioning my recipe. And you found banana leaves for the authentic taste!

Gattina Cheung said...

Paz, thanks! This recipe is really wonderful!

Kristen, even me still think the same too!

Sarah, thanks for the visit!

Peabody, thank you.

eliza, I love Indonesian food!

mandira, truely thank you again, in discovering and sharing this excellent recipe!

Anonymous said...

Banana Leaves grow fairly well here in New Orleans. I never have gotten any bananas large enough to eat (maybe wrong species?), but the leaves stick around until the first hard freeze (if we get one).