Monday, August 20, 2012


One of my favourite Peranakan Dish is Ayam Buah Keluak.
It's a must have dish prepared by my auntie come Chinese New Year as everyone gathered at her place and the pot is much enjoyed by all who visited her.  

During one of my trips to Batam, I purchased a packet of Buah Keluak and you cant just indulge in the "black gold" as much as dig into it on the spot.  It's not as prized a possession as truffle although both  are well valued by afficiandos.   You will have to spend ardous efforts with the laborious preparation having to soak it in water for minimum three days with daily change of clean water required.  I was "kiasu".  I soaked for 7~10days that I lost track on how long I have soaked it.  For reasons that my trust is at stake to prepare this dish with Buah Keluak for the family, I have to be extra careful dealing with the poisonous seed.  It's akin to preparing the poisonous fugu fish.

Buah Keluak is a seed with hard shell from the Pangium Edule or Kepayang Edule Tree found in the wild in Indonesia and Malaysia.  Someone once told me that the Buah Keluak from Jawa is tastier than found elsewhere.  


KEPAYANG FRUIT has a shape of a teardrop coconut and not many would have seen it before.  The seed contains poisonous hydrocyanic acid and hence careful handling preparation to rid it of the poison is needed.

Buah Keluak is a hard nut to crack.  However, it seemingly has an opening made easier for one to trying to crack it. You will see a visible strip on the hard shell and that's where you use the cleaver edge to first crack a hole on it.   Next use a knife to pry it open and it will be done. 

The meat should be brown or black in colour.  However if it is whitish in colour and has a heavier odour, the seed is spoiled and you need to throw it away.

Not everyone likes the nutty flavour of buah keluak.  
For the uninitiated, one may shy away from it.
It is an acquired taste and once you have tried it and liked it, you would certainly enjoy that smoothness velvety feel of the nutty flavour that when added to your rice and lapped with the ayam buah keluak gravy it is truly an amazing dish that the Nonyas / Peranakans has concorted.

My son insisted that he digs into the shell for the meat to fully enjoy the meal and it has to be that way, I agreed !

There are two methods of using the buah keluak to cook.  

One is to dig out the meat and and combine it with prawns and minced pork before stuffing the fillings back into the emptied shell.

The other is to purely cooked it as it.


For the 15 Buah Keluak, I used 1 whole chicken chopped into pieces.

Blend until fine these ingredients
3 large onions
10 small onions (to give more body to the gravy)
2 pcs turmeric (yellow ginger)
2 slices of Blue Ginger (not too much or you get a pungent tongue biting effect)
4 pcs of dried chilli (or fresh red chilli with seeds removed)
10 pcs candlenuts (buah keras)
1 tbs belachan (please fry it to release the fragrance first)

For the gravy, prepare 1.5litres of assam (I prefer the keping assam).

To cook, add sufficient oil to the pot/wok and fry the rempah which you have blended earlier.
Fry until fragrance is released about  5~10minutes.
Add in the chicken and the buah keluak and let it simmer till the meat is tender. 
Season with salt and sugar to taste.

Tips #1 
You may wish to add some of the buah keluak meat directly into the pot without the hard shell to add more flavour to the gravy and chicken.

Tips #2
Keep the cooked dish for a day in the fridge and you will find the flavour has seeped into the meat.

Tips #3
Below the dish was slightly too dry. Add more assam water to it as the buah keluak can absorb the gravy better.



Tony Johor Kaki said...

I love this post on one of my favourite foods. Your pictures make me hungry ;D Thanks!

JENCOOKS said...

Thanks, the dish got remarkably good the next day. Yummy with belachan chilli.

FoodieFC said...

wa i heard of this before. But this is something that I can't appreciate.

JENCOOKS said...

ooh really Foodie! Do you like durians?

JENCOOKS said...

ooh really Foodie! Do you like durians?

Lee said...

Hi Jen, I was checking out buah keluak via google came across your this very interesting posting.
I have not eaten this I can't even remember when. My mom was a Nyonya lady and thus this was a dish I learned to enjoy....

And you're right, it's an acquired taste. But I love it, and sure would love some.
Love your warm eloquence, and well written post.
Great pics too.
You have a nice day, and keep a song in your heart.
Best regards.

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