Ayam Masak Buah Keluak
For upcoming Raya celebration feasts, try cooking Ayam Masak Buah Keluak or Chicken Braised with Black Nuts. Ayam Masak Buah Keluak is a Peranakan classic, traditionally prepared for “Tok Panjang” or Long Table wedding dinners.
Buah keluak, also known as buah kepayang is the fruit of the kepayang tree. It has an outer black hard shell encasing a soft, mushy black pulp. Kepayang trees are mostly found in Pahang.
Buah keluak must undergo a curing process – involving boiling, immersion in ash and burial in the ground for an extended period. Curing is an art, done by the keluak fruit growers and harvesters. Local supply could be declining and most of the fruit in our local markets are largely depending on the next biggest kepayang exporter, Indonesia.
Subsequently, after we buy them from the market, it is compulsory to pre-prepare our buah keluak to remove the cyanide toxin from within before use for cooking.
Soak the fruits in clean water for at least 3-5 days changing the water daily.
- Prep Time: 5 days including soaking
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 5 days + 60 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 - 6 persons
- Category: Festive
- Method: Moderate
- Cuisine: Peranakan
15 pieces buah keluak
80g minced chicken
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 whole chicken legs, about 1kg, skins removed and chopped into 4 pieces each
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 stalks lemon grass, white part only
5 cm piece galingale (“lengkuas”)
3 cm piece turmeric
3 cloves garlic
6 candlenuts (“buah keras”)
3 large red onions
10 dried chillies
5 fresh red chilies
3 cm piece shrimp paste (“belacan”) lightly toasted
5 pieces kaffir lime leaves, torn
2 tbsp tamarind paste, worked into 4 cups water, strain and reserve liquid
2- 3 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
- Soak the buah keluak in filtered water for 4-5 days, changing the water twice daily. Drain and wipe dry.
- Using a sharp kitchen scissors, cut a slit at the end of the nut, opposite the pointed end. This longish area has a lighter shade and looks like a mouth. Remove all shell chips from the cut area.
- Remove the inner flesh with a teaspoon. Collect all flesh in a mixing bowl. Mix with minced chicken, sugar and salt. Stuff this mixture back into every nut. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a wok. Fry ground ingredients over medium heat till fragrant and oil separates.
- Add chicken pieces and fry over high heat till chicken is lightly browned.
- Add tamarind water, kaffir lime leaves and bring to a slow simmer. Return stuffed nuts to the wok and simmer till chicken is cooked and gravy has thickened slightly.
- Serve hot with hot white rice.
- Ask your guests to remove the stuffing from the buah keluak with a fork and mix with some gravy and rice. Simply delicious!
How to select a good buah keluak: Weigh each nut in the palm of your hand; it should feel heavy and not hollow. If the inner pulp of the nut is pale or white in colour when you remove it from the shell, throw it away as it has turned moudy.
Avoid buying pre washed buah keluak. It is better to get those still coated with some soil or ash from the curing and pre prepare them yourself.
You can get buah keluak from the Pasar Besar Melaka at Taman Melaka City Square.