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Balinese Inspired Chicken

Powerful Asian flavour with the subtle twist of Indonesian flair. Balinese Inspired Chicken will take your chicken dinner to next level amazing!

It’s fair to say that this recipe may not be entirely culturally accurate. Let’s be honest here, I’m no expert on Balinese cooking. I’ve never been to Bally (top my list though) and never eaten at an authentic Indonesian restaurant. Stumbled upon a similar recipe (Balinese Grilled Chicken) in the professional kitchen, which was printed from a mainstream American recipe hub and passed to the hot line in the kitchen with the following notation: “Leaves tomorrow, party for 80. Must be gorgeous!” 

The method proved simple enough: make a curry paste, marinade, and cook.

 Balinese Inspired Roasted Chicken, Ingredients - Food Gypsy

In Search of Authentic Flavour

The thick curry paste smells fantastic! The aromatic base of onion, ginger, lemongrass and garlic along with chillies, turmeric and a generous squeeze of lime; made for an outstanding flavour profile. If you’re going for a more authentic approach source the following:

  • Fresh galangal (substitute for ginger)
  • Fresh turmeric (substitute for dried)
  • Fresh kaffir lime leaves (substitute for dried)

To give it extra punch, on that first auspicious occasion, I roasted limes to act as a garnish and finished with fresh cilantro and bits of fresh de-seeded chilies. (After all, it needed to be gorgeous!) Then I tasted a roasted lime and went out of my mind. Why have I never roasted limes before?! Where has this deep green citrus flavour been all my life?!

Balinese_Chicken_Curry_Paste_FoodGypsy Balinese_Chicken_Method_FoodGypsyBalinese_Inspired_Chicken_FoodGypsy

A Bite of Bali

That first exposure to Balinese Roasted Chicken peaked an interest the food traditions of Indonesia. Since I’ve read dozens of recipes and travel articles on the flavour of Bali to come to the recipe you see below.

Curiosity lead me to three marvellous resources. First to this Taliwang Chicken (Ayam Taliwang) recipe on Indonesian Original Recipes.  Second,  this amazing blog out of New Zealand, and her recipe for Balinese Chicken Curry, which is a MUST TRY.   And finally, a deeper look at Bali and it’s cuisine on Uncornered Market. Fascinating reads from several perspectives, exploring the ingredients and influences of Bali’s individual flavour.

You could make any recipe for Balinese Inspired Chicken using a whole chicken or any combination of chicken pieces. Marinate four hours MINIMUM, I prefer overnight. The lime juice acts as a meat tenderizer much the same way buttermilk does, giving you a creamy white, juicy flesh.

Gypsy Tip:  When using Lemongrass in a curry paste or soup work with ONLY the bulby, fleshy part and discard the top bits.  The top of the lemongrass stalk is fibrous and dry. It does not breakdown well and, if used gives a nasty ‘dried grass’ texture to your food. Useful in a ‘bouquet garni’ that you bundle together using cheesecloth or leeks and kitchen string then throw away, but not as a blended component.

Equally as good (and likely more historically accurate) way to cook Balinese Inspired Chicken; over a bed of hot coals or on your gas grill. (But then you’d miss the benefit of the pan drippings and the Coconut Curry sauce on the bottom.) Serve with Jasmine rice, chili coconut rice, or Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) and a dash of Samol Olek.

I’m CRAZY for this recipe.  Taste adventure from the Gypsy kitchen.

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Balinese Inspired Chicken

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  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 mins
  • Yield: serves 4 - 6 1x


Powerful Asian flavour with the subtle twist of Indonesian flair. Balinese Inspired Chicken will take your chicken dinner to next level amazing! The method proved simple enough: make a curry paste, marinade, and cook. The thick curry paste is an aromatic base of onion, ginger, lemongrass and garlic along with chillies, turmeric and a generous squeeze of lime, for a unique flavour profile.


  • 1 chicken, whole, split
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 fresh red Pencil or Thai chilies (de-seeded for less heat)
  • 4 small shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass, bulb only, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (plus some to coat pan)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 4 fresh limes
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • fresh cilantro, to finish


  1. Combine garlic, chilies, shallots, lemongrass, turmeric, soy sauce, the juice of two limes, kaffir lime leaves only if using fresh (if using dry add to chicken, whole as part of the marinade, as you see above) and1/2 cup of coconut (or vegetable) oil in robot coupe. Pulse until chunks are broken down somewhat and then blend until a smooth paste is formed (about 3 minutes). Add salt, blend to combine.
  2. Reserve two tablespoons of curry paste for sauce and refrigerate separately. Rub chicken with remaining paste, cover and refrigerate. Marinade for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Prep pan with a light coat of coconut or vegetable oil, remove chicken from fridge, plaster as much of the marinade on the bird as you can. Roast at 450°F (230°C) for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C), cut remaining limes in half and add to pan, flesh down and roast for another 30 minutes.
  4. Coconut Curry Sauce: Combine remaining curry paste with coconut milk. Remove dish from the oven, remove both chicken and limes from pan and reserve, warm. Drain pan of excess oil. Mix coconut-curry mixture with the drippings in the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pan and return to the oven to finish. Cook until juices of the thigh run clear (approximately 20 minutes) or or until internal temperature reaches 170°F (77°C)
  5. Return limes to the hot pan, flesh up. Allow chicken to rest about five minutes. Finish with fresh cilantro (if desired) and serve.


This recipe can be as spicy or as mild as you like, it all depends on the type of chilies you choose and how many (if any) seeds you choose to remain in the curry paste. I de-seeded half the four chilies i used. The Pencil Chilies I chose have a medium heat, but I still used a glove to de-seed them. If you’re working with bare hands be sure to wash hands (and under nails), directly following any work with chillies! There are many a colourful stories from the kitchen involving chili oil accidentally rubbed in eyes and on (*ahem*) sensitive body parts. Trust me when I say that this can be at best, extremely unpleasant, and at worst dangerous. Safety first.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Balinese / Indonisian

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Live, love, EAT WELL!

Cori Horton

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

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