Spiced Chicken Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Spiced Chicken Wrapped in Banana Leaf

I will introduce you one of native culinary from Indonesia. We call it Pepes Ayam or Spiced Chicken Wrapped in Banana Leaf in English. Pepes is steamed dish with many herbs and spices wrapped in banana leaf. The main characteristics from this dish is the color from turmeric.

Pepes can be used as a main course or side dish. The main ingredient can be vary. We often use chicken, fish, tofu, or tempe. If I have to choose, I will definitely choose chicken as the main ingredient.

It is quite hard for me to find banana leaves as not all markets sell it.

First of all I clean the chicken then marinate it with kaffir lime, salt and pepper for 10 minutes. During the time that the chicken is marinated, I toast candlenuts until a little bit golden and then with another ingredients make it a paste using pestle and mortar.

Once the spices are ready, I clean the banana leaves with wet paper towel then grill the leaves for a couple of seconds over a small flame. I do this so that the leaves are not easily torn when used to wrap the chicken.

I coat the chicken with spices, basil and scallions. Now come the fun part of making pepes that is wrapping the chicken with banana leaf. I use sticks of toothpick to tie it.

For steaming, make sure you cook it over high heat for 45 minutes or more. Turn off the heat, wait for 5 minutes and spiced chicken wrapped in banana leaf is ready to served.

I admit that the presentation of this dish is not quite pretty. But you should taste it. So good and full of flavors. Its also healthy.

Spiced Chicken Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Prep Time: 15 minutes                                   Yield: 4

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


500 g/1 lb chicken, skin on and bone in, cut into 4 pieces

½ tsp kaffir lime juice

½ tsp ground pepper

2 stalks scallions, sliced

2 sprigs of basil

1 tomatoes, cut into pieces

1 stalk lemongrass, crushed

Salt, to taste

Banana leaves, cut into 6×6 in

Spices paste:

10 cloves shallots

5 cloves garlic

5 cm turmeric, toasted

4 cm ginger

5 candlenuts, toasted

1½ tsp sugar

Salt, to taste


1. Marinate the chicken with kaffir lime juice, salt, and pepper for 10 minutes.

2. Grind spices paste ingredients with pestle and mortar. Add basil and scallions. Mix well

3. Clean the banana leaves with wet paper towel and roast over small flame for few seconds until the leaves is withered.

4. On a banana leaf coat chicken with spices paste.

5. Wrap and roll the chicken neatly and fasten the edges with toothpicks.

6. Steamed 45 minutes – 60 minutes over high heat.

7. Turn off the heat, let it stand for 5 minutes in a steamer basket.

8. Serve it with steamed rice.

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