Manado, Ayam Garo Rica, Chili and Lemon Basil Chicken

Manado, Ayam Garo Rica, Chili and Lemon Basil Chicken


Longing to make this Ayam Garo Rica for so long! Ayam Garo Rica (Manadonese Chili and Lemon Basil Chicken). In the local dialect, Garo means stir fry and Rica means chili pepper.

All I had to do was being patience until my red long cayenne pepper grown more. Yes… I was yielding long red cayenne pepper, lemon basil and turmeric leaves from the pots before they get hit by the cold weather.

The long red cayenne pepper is very useful for Indonesian cooking. To the best of my knowledge, there are two variants of long cayenne pepper that we use in Indonesia. One is cabai merah keriting (curly red); the fruit has a smaller diameter compare to the other one, cabai merah besar (big red). The curly one is slimmer, dense and has a wavy shape. In term of taste, curly red cayenne pepper is more spicy than the big red ones. In this recipe, I used the curly type.

I was messaging Ellen back forward whom native to North Sulawesi and lives in England to get more knowledge about her Manadonese or Minahasan specialty food. This is what I quoted from one of her posting.

“Manadonese or Minahasan almost never use coriander, cumin and kaempferia galangal (or kencur) in food. The basic spices that we call “bumbu” mainly use garlic, shallot, a bit turmeric, lots of ginger, lots of lemon grass, lemon basil, tomato, tons of chillies, pandan leaf, mint leaf, daun tebal (Cuban oregano – Coleus Amboinicus. Lour) similar to thyme or oregano, kaffir lime leaf, cloves, nutmeg, mace and white peppercorn.”

I found out also that Manadonese food applies many kind of leafy ingredients that I have never known before. For example:

– Daun Gedi
Botanical name: Hibiscus manihot L.
Other names:
* English: Edible hibiscus leaf
* Indonesian: Daun dedi, Daun belender
* Tagalog: Lagikuway
* Thai: Po fai

– Daun Leilem
Botanical name: Clerondendrum minahassae
Native to Minahasa (Indonesia) and the Philippines
Other names:
* English: White glory bower

– Daun Pangi
Botanical name: pangium edule
Other names:
* Indonesian: daun keluwak

– Daun Nasi
Botanical name: Halopegia blumei (Koern.)K.Schumann
Other names:
Indonesian: Daun patat (Sundanese), jelantir (Javanese), langkuwas (Kangean)

– Daun Tebal
Botanical name: Coleus amboinicus Lour
Other names:
* English: Country borage, Indian mint, Mexican mint, Cuban oregano
* Indonesian: Bangun-bangun (North Sumatra), daun kucing, daun kambing
* Chinese: Zuo shou xiang, yin du bo he, dao shou xiang
* Japanese: Kuuban oregano
* Vietnamese: Tan day la

– Daun Werot
This leafy plant is quite unique, because most people know as an ornamental plant, croton varieties. But, the Minahasan uses for cooking croton varieties of plants. This leaf is added to reduce odour of beef, chicken, pork, and water buffalo.
Botanical name: Codiaeum variegatum
Other names:
* English: Garden croton

Woooo, what a long list for leaf seasonings. Let’s move on to the recipe.

Ayam Garo Rica
– Manadonese Chili and Lemon Basil Chicken –
recipe by Ikaray, modified by me

500 g chickens (thighs and drumsticks)
1/2 cup lemon basil (or you can use thai basil)
10 kaffir lime leaves, torn
3 pandan leaves, thinly sliced
2 turmeric leaves, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen ground lemon grass (available at Asian markets)-> originally, it was used 2 lemongrass and thinly sliced
5 calamansis
3 tbsp EV coconut oil
sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar to season

Spices to be ground:
6 shallots (use 10 shallots for smaller size)
10 long red cayenne pepper
10 bird eye chilies
3 cm peeled ginger
1/2 tsp seasalt

1. In a medium bowl, drizzle 2 calamansis and sprinkle sea salt over chicken. Set a side for 15 minutes in the fridge.

2. At medium-high, heat oil in a wok. Stir fry ground spices until fragrant.

3. Add chicken, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, panda leaves, and turmeric leaves; stir well.

4. Reduce to low heat, place the lid on and let chicken simmer until tender and cook through

5. Open the lid and continue simmering. Add sea salt and sugar to season, taste.

6. Add lemon basil and green onion, cook until the mixture is slightly thicken.

7. Remove from heat, drizzle 3 calamansis over and mix well.

Serve with steamed rice.

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