Satay is a Malaysian street food that is made of marinated meat skewered on bamboo sticks and then grilled on a charcoal stove. It can be made with any type of meat, although the most favourites are chicken, mutton and beef. It is then served with a spicy peanut sauce to dip the meat in. To accompany the satay are condiments like ketupat (compressed rice), onion and cucumber wedges.

Satay can be found in many other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. However, the difference is in the marination. Satay Ayam in Indonesia is prepared with a mixture of coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper combined with an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Malaysian satay uses shallots, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric and garlic whereas Thai satay uses fish sauce.

The marinade is the most important part of satay. Traditionally, all spices are pounded with a mortar and pestle into a fine paste. Then the meat is marinated overnight to ensure that each piece soaks in the robust flavours.

Here’s how you can make Malaysian satay at home.

Ingredients for satay:

• 500g boneless chicken thigh
• 4 stalks lemongrass – use the white parts only
• 3 cm galangal
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled
• 6 shallots, peeled
• 2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• Salt to taste
• 1 tbsp sugar
• Bamboo skewers, soak in water for 2 hours

Condiments for serving:

• 1 cucumber – cut into small wedges
• 1 red onion – quartered
• Ketupat



  1. Cut the chicken into cubes and set aside.
  2. Blend the lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, cumin and turmeric powder in a food processor. Add a little water if needed.
  3. Combine the chicken with the blended spices, salt and sugar and mix well. Marinade in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, preferably.
  4. Skewer a few pieces of the meat onto the bamboo skewers.
  5. Brush the meat with some oil and grill the chicken skewers for 2 – 3 minutes on each side until the meat is fully cooked and the surface is nicely charred.
  6. Serve hot with peanut sauce, cucumber, raw onions and ketupat.