What's cooking this Raya: Ayam kelio

Izanie (second from left) and her mum Faridah (sitting, second from right) divide the cooking and baking duties every Hari Raya. — IZANIE NADZIM

Growing up, Izanie Nadzim lived mostly overseas as her father was with the Foreign Ministry and stationed all over the world – from Myanmar to Germany and the United States. Still, she says her mother Faridah Mohamad never forgot Hari Raya traditions and made an array of Malay delicacies no matter where the family was.

“My mum is actually from Johor and my dad is from Kedah. So when you talk about our Raya food traditions, it’s actually a combination of both Johor food as well as food from the north.

“So without fail – wherever we are – she makes Johor-style lontong with vegetables like carrots, cabbage, prawns, tempeh and tofu. She also makes her own lemang, rendang daging and ketupat palas, ” says Izanie.

All those meals will probably sound fairly familiar to most Malaysians, but Izanie says the family’s undeniable favourite during Hari Raya is the unique ayam kelio, a recipe Faridah got from her friend’s sister, when their family was living in Indonesia.

“Every year, she makes this. So instead of ayam rendang, we always have this ayam kelio because everyone loves it, ” says Izanie.

According to Izanie, ayam kelio bears some resemblance to ayam masak lemak, except that it has a drier consistency and a fiery quality, as a result of the cili padi in the recipe.

Now that she is all grown up, Izanie has divvied up the cooking duties for Hari Raya to ensure that her mother doesn’t have too much on her plate. Both she and her brother help their mother with the cooking one day before Hari Raya.

Additionally, she has also taken over all the baking duties for her family’s Raya celebration and now makes kuih Raya like sarang semut, dodol, tart nenas, marble cake and chocolate chip cookies, among a litany of other sweet delights.

“My mum will do the cooking, and I will do the baking, so there’s a bit of division of labour. And while my mum taught me the more traditional things like sarang semut, which she learnt from an aunt – some other baked goods I have picked up on my own and people love it, ” she says.

This year, Izanie says she and her mother won’t be baking or cooking so much as this year’s celebration is going to be a low-key family affair instead of their usual big do with many relatives.

“This year we are just going to minimise and I will only bake a few things and my mum will also cook less, so we will still have the Raya feel, but more small-scale lah, ” she says.


For blending

3 large red onions

6 cloves garlic

5cm ginger

5cm galangal

4-5cm turmeric

15 cili padi

1 tsp coriander seeds

For cooking

1 chicken, cut into 14 pieces

A few stalks lemongrass

A few daun salam

A few daun limau purut

500g coconut milk

500ml water

In a wok, sautee blended ingredients until aromatic. When aromatic and boiling, add in chicken, lemongrass, herbs, coconut milk and water.

Cook until santan mixture is reduced to a dry gravy texture like rendang, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot.

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