Malaysian Spicy Tomato Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)

Malaysian Spicy Tomato Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)
This is another Malaysian dish with all the characteristics of a curry but named Ayam Masak Merah which translates literally to ‘chicken cooked red’. It’s a relatively simple name to describe chicken simmered in a creamy tomato-based gravy.

Malaysian Spicy Tomato Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)

As I mentioned in my post of Minangkabau Beef, the ‘four brother’ meat spices are used: cinnamon, clove, star anise and cardamom to add a depth of flavor to the gravy. The chicken is marinated in turmeric and salt and pan-fried prior to simmering in coconut milk with tomato sauce. Expect a sweet and mildly spicy dish which pairs well with steamed rice and a side of veggies.

Malaysian Spicy Tomato Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)

Malaysian Spicy Tomato Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)

Malaysian Spicy Tomato Chicken (Ayam Masak Merah)

  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Yield: 2 1x


  • 1 lb. chicken breast or drumsticks
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cardamom
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup peas (optional)


  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

Spice blend

  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste / Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder


  1. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes and blend all the spices in the spice blend
  2. Over medium high heat, pan-fry the chicken until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside
  3. In a seperate pan over medium high heat, saute spice blend with cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise and cardamom until fragrant
  4. Pour in coconut milk and tomato sauce and bring to a boil, seasoning with sugar and salt
  5. Add in chicken, stir to coat and simmer over medium heat until the gravy thickens
  6. Add peas (optional) and stir to combine
  7. Dish and serve hot



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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Navaneetham Krishnan
    September 16, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    Another of my fav Malaysian dish. Its simply superb with the spicy and tangy flavors I will die for.

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