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Lemper Ayam – Indonesian Sticky Rice Rolls filled with Spicy Chicken

2 August 2020

One of the reasons I started this foodblog was that I could challenge myself to try out more ingredients and techniques that I would usually shy away from. Todays challenge is a 2 in 1: a new Indonesian ingredient: sticky rice, and a new technique: breaking down a whole chicken.

I always prefer to use freerange and organic chicken, but generally these are more expensive, especially the separate cuts. Breaking down and using a whole chicken makes it way more affordable, and now I know how to do it, I’ll do it much more often! From one chicken you get ± 8-10 portions of meat and then you also still have the carcass left to make an amazing stock, nothing goes to waste! Gordon’s Ramsay Masterclass explains very well how to tackle breaking down the chicken.

After that I made Lemper, the sticky rice package filled with spicy chicken. It’s not very difficult, but quite time consuming, it took me about 2,5 hours in total to make them (but luckily I find pottering around in the kitchen very relaxing). Recipes inspired by @lekkertafelen and @mariskacornelis

Usually Lemper isn’t served with a dipping sauce, but hey, I’m a dipper 😉 so I made a quick sauce with ketjap manis, sambal badjak, tamarinde, sesame oil, garlic powder, honey and a splash of water.

Lemper Ayam - Indonesian Sticky Rice Rolls filled with Spicy Chicken

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Fingerfood, Lunch Indonesian
By Saffron Serves: ± 15 lempers
Cooking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Traditional Indonesian snack: sticky rice filled with super tasty shredded chicken.


  • Sticky rice
  • 500 grams sticky rice (glutinious)
  • 550 ml coconut milk
  • 2 pandan leaves
  • 8 jeruk purut leaves (kaffir lime)
  • 4 salam leaves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Chicken
  • 2 chicken breasts, no skin
  • 2 white onions
  • 1 stalk lemon grass - bruised
  • 4 candle nuts (kemiri nuts)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried laos
  • 1 tsp trassi
  • 4 leaves kaffir lime leaves - fresh or frozen, not dried (djeroek poeroet)
  • 2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp koriander powder (ketoembar)
  • 1/2 tsp kurkuma (koenjit)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (djinten)
  • 2 cm coconut cream (santen)
  • The dipping sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketjap manis
  • 1 tsp sambal badjak
  • 1 tsp tamarinde
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 splash cold water


Sticky rice


Soak the rice for a minimum of 2 hours.


If you don't have a rice steamer like me, you can easily create your own by using a large pan and a vegetable steamer (or colander) which fits snuggly in the pan.


We start by using just the pan, vegetable steamer. To the pan add the rice and the following ingredients:


Coconut cream, salt, kaffir lime leaves, bruised and knotted pandan leaves and the bruised lemongrass stalk.


Heat the pan on a low heat, keep on stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Watch out for burning, the sugars in the coconut milk will make it burn quicker than water.


Take off the heat and let rest for 30 minutes with the lid on.


After 30 minutes remove the pandan leaves, they will make the rice turn slightly green.


Transfer the rice to the steamer part and add ± 2 cm of water to the bottom of the pan. Make sure the water doesn't touch the rice while it's in the steamer.


Steam with the lid on for 30 minutes, taste and check if it's done. The grains should be soft, if the core is still a bit hard steam for another 10 minutes.


Stir through carefully and close off with a lid so the rice doesn't dry out, and still stays a bit warm.

Chicken filling


Boil the chicken filets (kept whole) in enough water to amply cover it. Amount of time needed depends on size of the chicken breast, ± 10 minutes.


Remove the chicken, keep the water for later use.


Finely chop the boiled chicken breast and the onion.


In a mortar and pestle (or a food processor) grind the garlic, candle nuts and half of the onion into a paste.


Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable or peanut oil in a pan and add the sugar, kaffir lime leaves, laos and the lemon grass. Sauté for 1 minute.


Add the other half of the onions you kept aside and sauté until translucent and fragrant.


Add the spice paste and mix through


Add the rest of the spices: trassi, koriander powder, cumin powder and kurkuma.


Mix and sauté everything together and then add the finely chopped chicken.


Add 150 cl of the held back chicken 'stock' to the mix, heat through and remove from the heat.


Remove the kaffir lime leaves and the lemon grass.

Making the Lemper


To start prepare ± 16 clingfilm pieces of 20 x 20 cm.


Get a bowl of water ready to wet your hands now and then, the rice is very sticky.


Take a handful of rice and place it in the middle of a cling film sheet to create a rectangular shape (kind of ;-).


Place the chicken filling in the middle, leaving the sides empty so when you roll it up the chicken is inside the 'sausage'.


First roll one side over with the cling film, then the other side and tightly roll it all up into a nice sausage shape and the filling isn't visible.


Tightly make a knot on 1 side and then by twisting the other side push all the ingredients tightly together.


Repeat until all the filling and rice are done.

The dipping sauce


Add all the ingredients to an airtight jar and shake it up well. Taste and adjust where needed.

Serving & Storing


You can eat them cold or warm, but I prefer warm.


They will keep 2-3 days in the fridge.


Lempers freeze really well, no need to defrost before heating.


I prefer to steam them to heat them up, but you can also microwave them. Either way, keep the clingfilm on while reheating, prick a few wholes in the plastic so the steam can release.


Microwaving: 3 x 10 seconds.


Steaming: 10-15 minutes.

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  • Reply
    19 February 2023 at 07:31

    Where is the Recipe?

    • Reply
      4 March 2023 at 11:12

      Oh wow I hadn’t noticed it wasn’t turned on! Thank you for your message 😉 The recipe is now online!

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