Ayam Buah Keluak By Candlenut

Considered a classic traditional dish,  Head Chef Malcolm Lee elevates it with his personal touch at one-Michelin-starred Candlenut. Chef Lee gets his ingredients from either Tekka Market or Geylang Serai Market for the freshness and the convenience of being able to get everything at a go, and he serves it simply, garnished with strands of Togarashi red hair. Home cooks may serve it with some garlic or finely cut lemongrass.

Buah Keluak Rempah

Serves 6 to 9

Prep Time: 1 hr 15 min

Cook Time: 1 hr

Ayam Buah Keluak

Serves 2 to 3

Prep TIme: 1 hr

Cook Time: 45 min

Buah Keluak Rempah

12g Galangal

30g Turmeric

30g Candlenut

150g Shallot

55g Garlic

20g Belachan (raw)

25g Lemongrass (Bottom third part only)

100g Dried Chilli

250g Oil

  • Peel and chop galangal, turmeric, candlenut, shallot, garlic.
  • Boil dried chilli in hot water for 15 min, drain and chop finely.
  • Pound all ingredients with a mortar and pestle or blend in a food blender until a fine paste is formed.
  • Heat oil over medium heat and fry the paste till dry, fragrant and oil split from the paste.
  • Put aside to use for later.


  • Cut the rempah ingredients finely so that it’ll take much lesser time to pound them into a spice paste with a pestle and mortar. The finer the paste, the more the flavours will be released and the more aromatic the dish will be.
  • When frying, stir constantly to prevent it from burning – till it’s nicely caramelised and fragrant.

Whole Buah Keluak Nuts, 6 pcs

500g Chicken

50gBuah keluak rempah

50g Buah keluak meat

2 tbsp Oil

400ml Water

15g Tamarind Paste (Assam)

2g Salt

2g Sugar

2 pcs Kaffir lime leaf

1 pc Lemongrass (bruised)

  • Crack open the whole buah keluak nuts from the “lips” with a pestle or a small hammer. Remove small bits of shell. Set aside.


  • Choose buah keluak nuts that are heavier, as the light ones tend to be dry and don’t have much meat.
  • As it is poisonous when raw, make sure to scrub thoroughly and to soak for 5 days in the chiller, with water changed daily.
  • When opened, it should smell like dark chocolate or coffee.
  1. Heat oil over a medium low heat, fry rempah and the buah keluak nut meat for 1 minute till fragrant.
  2. Add in the chicken, bruised lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add in water, salt and sugar, tamarind and the reserved whole buah keluak nuts.
  4. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning accordingly.
  5. Ready to serve.


  • For more flavour, marinate the chicken with salt and turmeric powder.
  • Fry the chicken in the rempah for deeper flavours.
  • Simmer the chicken in just enough water. If there’s too much water, the chicken will turn out bland.
  • Be careful not to overcook the chicken. The flesh should be just about cooked through and firm, not fall-off-the-bone tender.
  • For more rounded flavours, let the chicken rest before serving. For the best results, keep the Ayam Buah Keluak in the fridge for at least a day, reheat and serve.

Chef Masterclass