Balinese Grilled Chicken

Grated fresh turmeric gives this grilled chicken a golden glow, while plenty of garlic, ginger, and puckery tamarind add bright flavor. Coconut charcoal burns exceptionally clean, letting the marinade shine. In Bali, Indonesia, Ibu Djelantik serves this chicken with her version of sambal matah, a bright, slaw-like condiment with chiles, shallots, and makrut lime or Key lime juice that offers a refreshing counterpoint to the chicken. Read More: The Fiery, Fascinating World of Sambal

Balinese Grilled Chicken with Raw Sambal Matah
Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Marian Cooper Cairns / Prop Styling by Natasha Kolenko
Active Time:
1 hr 5 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins


  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 2 tablespoons fresh makrut lime juice, calamansi juice, or Key lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh turmeric root

  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 (5- to 6-pound) whole chicken

  • Coconut charcoal

  • Balinese Raw Sambal Matah


  1. Heat coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium until melted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Combine coconut oil, garlic, lime juice, turmeric, ginger, salt, tamarind paste, and coriander in a food processor; process until mostly smooth, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand at room temperature 20 minutes.

  2. Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut along both sides of backbone, and remove backbone. Discard backbone, or reserve for stock. Turn chicken breast side up, and open underside of chicken like a book. Using the heel of your hand, press firmly against breastbone until it cracks.

  3. Brush chicken gently with half of the garlic sauce until completely coated. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

  4. Meanwhile, open bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light charcoal chimney starter filled with coconut charcoal. When coals are covered with gray ash, pour them evenly onto bottom grate of grill. Adjust vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 350°F to 400°F. Coat top grill grate with oil; place on grill. Place chicken, breast side up, on oiled grates. Grill, covered, until skin is crisp and golden brown and a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of meat registers 165°F, 45 minutes to 1 hour, brushing remaining garlic sauce on chicken occasionally during cooking.

  5. Remove chicken from grill; let rest 10 minutes. Serve with Balinese Raw Sambal Matah.


Find coconut charcoal, such as Blazing Coco, at

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