Fried nonya chicken

Fried nonya chicken

Leanne Kitchen

Nothing beats good fried chicken! On our travels, we quickly learnt that Southeast Asian cooks are master chicken-friers. Called inche kabin in Malaysia, this dish has a marinade that packs some flavour. You’ll note the appearance of mustard and worcestershire sauce – a hang-over from the British colonial times and further reinforcing Malaysia as the true home of ‘fusion’ cuisine.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.8kg chicken
vegetable oil, for frying


Quantity Ingredient
1 cinnamon stick, roughly broken
6 dried red chillies, stem ends trimmed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric
or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
150ml coconut milk
6 small red asian shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar


Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon hot mustard powder
60ml worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons shaved palm sugar
3 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
3 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
steamed rice
Vegetable pickle salad


  1. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the chicken down either side of the backbone then discard the backbone or reserve it for stock. Cut through the joint between the body and thigh to remove the leg quarters, then cut through the leg joint to remove the drumsticks. Cut each thigh in half through the bone. Put the remaining chicken on the board, skin side down, then cut down the breast bone to cut in half. Remove the wings. Cut the breasts in half through the bone, trimming any excess bones along the edge. You should have 12 pieces of chicken. Transfer the chicken pieces to a large bowl.
  2. For the paste, put the whole spices in an electric spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder. Transfer to a food processor with the remaining paste ingredients and process until a coarse paste forms. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
  3. Combine the paste with the chicken in the bowl, using your hands to toss the chicken in the mixture to coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3–4 hours or overnight.
  4. For the sauce, combine the mustard powder with 2–3 teaspoons water or just enough to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chillies, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the chillies.
  5. Bring the chicken to room temperature and remove it from the marinade. Dry the chicken well on paper towel.
  6. Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan until it reaches 180°C, or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds. Fry the chicken, in batches, for 12 minutes or until deep golden and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil. Serve the chicken with the sauce for dipping.
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