Friday, October 3, 2014

Ayam Tempra (A Nyonya Dish)

Ayam Tempra is a Nyonya Dish, Ayam is the Malay word for chicken, and Tempra is the way of cooking a braised dish using onions, white pepper powder, sugar, black soy sauce, light soy sauce and a squeeze of lime or calamansi juice. Besides Ayam Tempra, there are Ikan Tempra (fish) and Terung Tempra (brinjal). Will share them in my blog posts one of these days.

This is a really easy dish to cook and very delicious. Popular among children and adults, it is a very tasty dish that is really good eaten with plain white hot fluffy rice.

Every Nyonya household has their own family recipe for this, but basically, the main ingredients that make this dish are;  lots of onions which gives a delicious oniony-sweet flavour, black soy sauce for colour and sauce texture, light soy sauce for the saltiness, some sugar for sweetness, a pinch of white pepper powder for that little peppery taste, and another must-have ingredient, the juice from calamansi or lime. It is the calamansi/lime juice, which makes this dish a little different from other braised dishes. 

I have always used calamansi lime, if it is not available, limes (key limes)  may be used instead. 

A family favourite. Give this a try. 

Ayam Tempra
(by kitchen flavours)
2 whole chicken legs or 1/2 chicken, skinned and cut to pieces
2 large onions (peeled, halved and thinly sliced)
2 garlic cloves (crushed lightly with the side of the knife)
3-4 slices ginger
1 fresh red chilli (sliced at a diagonal)
1-2 tablespoons black soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce, to taste
1 tsp sugar, to taste
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp of white pepper powder
1 large calamansi limes, squeezed for juice

Heat about 2 tbsps oil in a wok or saucepan. Saute garlic cloves, ginger and sliced onions over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes until onions are softened. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until chicken are no longer pink. Add black soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, white pepper powder and stir until chicken is well coated with the sauce. Add water, stir to combine, bring to a boil, turn down heat to low. Cover wok and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time, until chicken is cooked through. Add some hot water if it appears dry. Stir in sliced fresh red chillies, and lime juice. Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Dish should be a little salty, a little sweet with a light taste of the lime juice. Dish out to a serving plate. Serve hot with rice.


I would like to share something on the gardening front. Some of you would probably know of my love for gardening. With limited gardening grounds, my plants and some veggies that I grow are all in pots and containers. Recently, I was approached by Lynseed Organics to try some of their seeds. Lynseed Organics is based in Singapore, and they offer one of the largest organic seeds collections in Asia with deliveries to Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the world. They carry a variety of specially selected seeds that thrive in our warm tropical climate. Their seeds are 100% GMO-Free, 100% Non-Hybrid, Open Pollinated, Quality Seeds, Heirloom Vegetable Seeds, so you can be assured of good quality reliable seeds.

They have a wide range of seeds for herbs and vegetables that are suitable for growing in containers and pots, especially great for home gardeners like myself with limited ground gardening space. I have done a series of gardening posts in my garden blog, My Little Potted Garden, using the organic seeds from Lynseed Organics. You may check out my blog posts at the following links :

Ever thought of growing your own veggies? Even if you do not have the gardening grounds (lucky you, if you do!), you could still have your veggie and herb garden in pots and containers, no matter how small your space is. Some of my seeds have to wait for their turn, due to lack of space, but that's OK. As long as some veggies is growing at the moment, that makes me happy. But that do not stop me from wishing for more space.....  !!

Lynseed Organics has kindly offered a 10% off the purchases for My Little Potted Garden readers. To get the coupon code, click on any of the links above which will direct you to my blog posts. I would love for you to stop by! 

Thank you, and I hope that you will enjoy reading about my gardening experience using seeds from Lynseed Organics.

Grow your own veggies and herbs! Go Green! From garden pot to kitchen pot, only the best for your family!  :)


  1. Hi Joyce, love your chicken tempra. I remember when I first cooked this quite sometimes back, it was a hit and need to cook extra rice too for this dish. The gravy itself is so yummy. Wow, Joyce, besides an excellent cook and chef, you have green fingers too!!! Thumbs up to you and need to pick up some gardening tips from you too. Thanks for sharing and warmest regards :)

  2. Hi Joyce, this will go so well with a bowl of rice! Yums!

  3. Joyce, I have heard of Ayam Tempra but yet to taste or cook it! It looks very delicious and looking at the ingredients, they are all easily available at home. I am going to cook it soon!

  4. what a perfect dish with a bowl of rice,I think one bowl not enough,should be double

  5. I have not heard of this dish name to give it a try as I know this must be delicious! (by the way, I used to have the same bowl like yours back in those days....just brought back those memories looking at your

  6. Hi Joyce, Glad that you share this sedaplicious Ayam Tempra . I'm looking forward to your ikan & terung Tempra recipe . And Wow! love your homegrown herbs & vegs . I've planted carrots in pots & they turned out even better than the one grown in garden soil .

  7. Looks so delicious. I should try this recipe... thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi Joyce, this dish is flavourful and perfect pair with rice.

  9. I understand why this is a family favorite. The flavors are wonderful. Blessings dear. Catherine

  10. Hi Joyce.
    It looks so delicious and enough to make me salivate.

  11. Joyce, your dish makes my mouth water! I want to try making this and I'll let you know how it turns out. I have onions from my garden as you know. I also bought pure calamansi, they're in little packets in the freezer. Can I use boneless, skinless thighs cut up? Yummy, this is my kind of food, perfect with rice! Do you think I can use brown sugar or coconut sugar? I don't have dark soy sauce but I think brown sugar will add color and it will caramelize. Thank you for the recipe. I'm hungry right now! :-)

  12. I would need a 2nd helping of rice! This looks very delicious, Joyce.

  13. This dish would be a favorite of mine too! Looks wonderfully delicious!

  14. Can I use lemon instead of calamansi?

    1. Yes, you could, though you would only probably need about 1/4 of a lemon, or to taste. The dish is not a sour dish.