Ayam Betutu or ‘Chicken with Balinese spices’ is a traditional Balinese dish of chicken rubbed in Balinese spices and then slow-cooked in banana leaf through steaming or roasting. Duck is originally used for this dish (which is then called bebek betutu, where bebek means duck.) Traditionally served in special ceremonies such as Odalan, the religious festival commemorating the birthday of Hindu-Balinese temples, and wedding banquets, this Balinese creation has made it into ordinary daily life to become a ‘full-time’ food and a de rigeur for those who want a native flavour. Now the chicken version of this dish has become an equally popular alternative.
Hard Rock Hotel Bali’s Sous chef Sudi, the brains behind the local specials at Starz Diner, shares with us how to recreate this dish in your own home. Preparation is fairly intensive because of the sheer number of ingredients involved but not difficult to execute. When it is cooked tender, the meat, slathered inside and out with a pleasantly charred spice paste, gives off lingering hints of lemongrass, turmeric and pungent ginger. Locals usually serve it with a side dish of lawar, a sour treatment of green beans and other greens mixed usually with shredded pork, with an optional spicy sambal sauce. Now it’s time to run to the kitchen and fire up that pan.
Chicken with Balinese spices by Chef Sudi
PREPARATION TIME: 3 HOURS
Marinade chicken with a dash of salt, pepper and 4 tablespoons of tamarind juice for at least 20 minutes.
- 150gm Young cassava leaves
- 100ml Vegetable oil
- Whole chicken (can be substituted with duck)
- Banana leaf for wrapping
- Betutu spice paste (recipe follows)
BETUTU SPICE PASTE BLEND:
- 10 pieces red chilli
- 8 pieces bird’s eye chilli (or chilli padi)
- 10 pieces red shallots, peeled
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 stalks lemongrass (white portion)
- 2 pieces fresh Indonesian bay leaf “daun salam”
- 2 centimetres galangal, also known as “blue ginger”
- 2 centimetres ginger
- 2 centimetres kencur (aromatic root)
- 3 centimetres turmeric
- 2 pieces lime leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed, pounded
- Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
- Combine all the betutu spice ingredients into a blender until it becomes a fine paste.
- Boil cassava leaves until soft. Drain in cold water and squeeze dry.
- Heat oil and sauté ground spices until fragrant and cooked.
- Take the blended spice paste and rub it thoroughly all over the body of the chicken, as well as in the belly cavity.
- Stir remaining blended spice paste with the boiled cassava leaves and stuff it into the belly cavity of the chicken.
- Sew the chicken with a toothpick. Tie the legs together with a butcher string.
- Wrap the chicken with banana leaves, sealing the sides with toothpicks.
- Put it in a heat-resistant dish and steam it for 30 minutes.
- Bake in a 160 degree-Celsius oven for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked.
- Remove and serve warm with rice and a side of spicy sambal.