Ayam Rica Rica: Indonesian Manadonese Spicy Chicken

This spicy Manadonese Ayam Rica Rica is one chicken dish for chilli lovers. The unique thing about this dish is that it uses lemon sweet basil leaves that marry well with the spicy flavour of chillies.

Ayam rica rica - Manadonese spicy chicken in chillies.

Ayam Rica Rica

This spicy Manadonese Ayam Rica Rica is one chicken dish for chilli lovers. It’s obviously spicy – though it’s not unbearably kicking hot spicy – and it’s irresistibly savoury. 

Originally from North Sulawesi (Manado), this dish is now popular beyond its birthplace. Much loved by everyone who loves chicken and chillies. 

A closeup of Ayam Rica Rica  the chicken dish cooked in spicy chillies from Manado Indonesia.

The name itself pretty much says what the dish is all about. Ayam means chicken, and rica-rica is a repetition of the word rica which means chillies.

The unique thing about this dish is that it uses lemon sweet basil leaves that marry well with the spicy flavour of chillies. These two alone give a refreshing taste that one can never have enough of this chicken dish.

A Delicious Standalone Dish

As the main staple, plain white rice is always served to enjoy most Indonesian dishes. So, it’s the same case with having this ayam rica. You enjoy it with plain white rice.

And you don’t really need any other side dishes, because ayam rica rica is simply delicious to enjoy on its own with hot plain white rice. 

But if you feel like having a proper Manadonese food spread, you can have the dish with tumisan sayur (stir-fry vegetables), bakwan jagung (sweetcorn fritters), and sambal dabu-dabu (chillies and tomatoes fresh chutney).

What You Need To Make Mouthwatering Ayam Rica Rica

Chicken, chillies, onion, ginger, tomatoes, palm sugar, lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, kemangi (lemon basil leaves), cooking oil and salt are what you need to prepare for cooking ayam rica. 

ingredients of ayam rica rica with overay text.

Of all the items above, I think lemon basil leaves are probably the most challenging for you to obtain. Because they’re not readily available at many shops, markets or grocery stores. Unless, of course, you’re living in the far east.  

Here in the UK, I have to get the leaves at Asian shops in Chinatown. And often, I can’t get them there either. It seems the other Asian basil leaves called Horapa sweet basil are more in demand because you see them in the shop more often. 

I tried to swap lemon basil leaves with Horapa sweet basil. All I can say is that I regretted it. Because the fragrance is so different. 

So if you can’t find kemangi (lemon basil leaves) in any shops, perhaps you should try to get it online. But I do recommend you to use kemangi to create authentic taste in your ayam rica-rica. 

How To Cook

This rica rica recipe uses the method of deep-frying the chicken first until it’s cooked through. And then cook the chilli paste until it’s bubbling before adding the chicken pieces into it. 

However, technically, you can cook the chicken by different methods such as grilling, steaming or air frying before mixing it with the chilli mixture. 

You can follow the recipe as it is, except for the frying part. Cook the chicken however you prefer, and continue step number 4 to proceed with the chilli mixture. 

a photo collage of how to make Manadonese chicken dish cooked in chillies and lemon basil.

So, firstly, you marinate the chicken in lime juice and salt. Then prepare the chilli paste by grinding all the chilli ingredients into a rough paste. Feel free to use a pestle and mortar or food processor to do it. 

Next, deep-fry the chicken until it is fully cooked. Set aside.

Reduce the oil from the frying pan, leaving about ¼ cup in the pan. Reheat it again. Then fry the chilli mixture in the hot oil. Add the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in, then stir and toss the mixture. When it looks shiny and releases a delicious aroma, place the chicken pieces in the chilli. 

Stir well until all pieces are covered with chilli paste and cook further for about 5 minutes. If the sauce gets dry, you can add a little water. 

When you turn the heat off, stir the lemon basil leaves into the chicken and leave it for a minute or two before serving. So the fragrance of the leaves will be infused in the chicken and the chillies.

Top Tips 

  • When you grind the chillies mixture, make sure you don’t pound it too finely and smoothly. You want the mix slightly rough so that you can see some big pieces of chillies.
  • Fry the chilli paste until it is cooked. You can tell that it’s ready from the mouthwatering aroma it releases.
  • Don’t cook the kemangi leaves (lemon basil). Because you will destroy the aroma they release to the dish. Therefore, add the leaves right towards the end. 
  • Don’t escape the marinade. Because it helps rid of the smell from the chicken.

Storage Matter

Just as a standard rule of storing the chicken dishes, this ayam rica rica keeps well in the refrigerator/ fridge for 4-5 days. 

A plate of chicken dish cooked in spicy chillies with tomato and lemon basil as garnish.

Once the chicken is completely cooled down, you can freeze it. Just put it in a freezer bag and label it. You can freeze for up to 6 weeks. 

Take the dish out of the freezer the night before serving. Leave it in the refrigerator to thaw. And fully reheat it before serving. Once it has thawed you can not refreeze the dish.

Other Indonesian Chicken Dishes

Thank you for checking this Ayam Rica Rica recipe. I hope you like it. If you do try it, it would be great if you can share what you think about the recipe in the comments below. 

And don’t forget to check out my other chicken recipes from Indonesian cuisines. 

Last but not least, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Ayam rica rica - Manadonese spicy chicken in chillies.
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5 from 2 votes

Ayam Rica Rica: Manadonese Spicy Chicken

This spicy Manadonese Ayam Rica Rica is one chicken dish for chilli lovers. The unique thing about this dish is that it uses lemon sweet basil leaves that marry well with the spicy flavour of chillies.
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 4 -6 portions


  • Pestle and mortar or
  • Chopper or
  • Food processor
  • Cooking pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Frying pan
  • Slotted spoon


  • 35.3 ounces chicken cut into pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Juice from 2 lime.
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves finely sliced.
  • 2 lemongrass take the white part and cut it an inch long.
  • 2 handfuls of lemon basil leaves/ Kemangi leaves see the note.
  • Cooking oil for deep frying.

For the spice paste:

  • 8.82 ounces gr/ 0.55 lbs/ 8.82 oz red chillies.
  • 1- inch ginger.
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes cut in chunks (see the note).
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar.


  • Clean, rinse and drain the chicken. Then place the poultry in a mixing bowl. Rub the lime juice and salt in the chicken. Ensure all the pieces are coated with lime juice and salt. Set aside.
  • Using a pestle and mortar or a food processor, grind all the spice paste ingredients into a rough paste.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a deep frying pan or a wok. Deep fry the chicken pieces until they just become firm and turn opaque in colour. Set aside.
  • In a cooking pan, heat ¼ cup of oil (you can use the one from deep-frying oil) and fry the spice paste together with lemongrass until it releases aroma.
  • Add the kaffir lime leaves into the spice mix and stir in the chicken pieces until all are covered with spices. You can add a little water if the sauce gets too dry. 
  • Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked thoroughly, then put the lemon basil leaves in. Give it a good stir and turn the heat off.


  • There are many types of red chillies. So beware of the heat strength of each type. The chillies I used in this recipe are big red chillies that are not as spicy as bird’s eyes chillies. Feel free to add more or fewer chillies according to your liking. This recipe makes a moderate spicy ayam rica-rica. 
  • You can substitute palm sugar with soft brown sugar or granulated sugar.
  • Kemangi or lemon-sweet basil is the one ingredient that makes this dish unique. It is because of these basil leaves, this food is well-known for its flavour. You can get the leaves in Chinese/ Asian shops.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 157mg | Sodium: 855mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g


Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

Author: Devy Dar

Title: Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Digital Content Creator.


Devy Dar founded So Yummy Recipes and Drizzling Flavor to share her love of food after exploring various cultures and cuisines for more than two decades. Her mission is to help others easily recreate traditional and non-traditional food with readily available ingredients. Her works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Al Jazeera, MSN, Yahoo, Bon Appetit, and more. 

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