This is a traditional Timorese recipe passed to Ibu Amye Un from her mother and grandmother.






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (62 votes)

“My recipe is an important memory of my mother throughout my childhood. It was a special event to share delicious spicy chicken even when times were hard.” 


  • 160 g rock salt
  • 1 whole chicken, cut in half
  • 250 g large red chillies
  • 2 pieces turmeric, about 5 cm x 2 cm, peeled and chopped
  • 1 piece galangal, about 5 cm x 2 cm, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil 
  • Steamed rice, to serve

Special black sauce

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) sweet soy sauce
  • 10 bird’s eye chillies, or to taste 
  • 250 g fried garlic (see Note)
  • 250 g fried Asian shallots (see Note), plus extra, to serve
  • 100 g tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time: 12 min

The following recipe has been edited and may differ slightly from the video.

1. Preheat a charcoal barbecue to medium heat.

2. Place the salt and 3 litres of water in a large saucepan and stir over low heat until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat and stand until cooled to room temperature. Add the chicken and stand for 15 minutes, making sure it is completely submerged.

3. Meanwhile, place the chillies, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass and oil in a blender and process until a smooth paste forms. Add a little water to thin if needed.

4. Take the chicken out of the salty water, drain well and pat dry. Place in a dish and rub all over with the spice mix. Place chicken halves directly onto the charcoal grill, skin-side down and cook for 10 minutes, then turn and cook for another 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the heat and place on a serving dish to rest for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, for the special black sauce, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, but do not let it boil.

6. To serve, cut the chicken into pieces, drizzle with the special black sauce and sprinkle with extra fried shallots. Serve with steamed rice.



• Fried garlic and fried Asian shallots are available from Asian grocers.


Explore a Taste of the Territory with Jimmy Shu on SBS Food and On Demand.