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Nonya Spicy Chicken In Torch Ginger Flower Sauce

Want to learn how to use the beautiful Borneo Pink Torch Ginger / Bunga Kantan?

Many people may have vaguely heard of it, but many don't know how to use, or don't dare to venture to use this unique and rare herb - the Borneo Pink Torch Ginger Flower. It's not so easy to find recipes with this ingredient either. But if you do take a chance on this gorgeous plant, you'd be highly rewarded with an explosion of amazing flavours, and your dishes will be unforgettable.

Our friend Siew in Melbourne has this elegant heirloom recipe passed down from her grandmother who is of Peranakan descent. She is delighted to share it with us here! Thank you, Siew!

First of all, what exactly is Torch Ginger? This plant is originally from South East Asia but now you can find it in the north of Australia also. The buds of the plant is a common ingredient in laksa, and it gives sauces a tantalising, refreshing feel. It has hints of lemongrass and a mint tang to it.

Ingredients A:

- 2 kg chicken drumsticks

- 2 tbs of turmeric powder

- A dash of white pepper

- ½ tsp of salt

- 1 cup of all-purpose flour

Ingredients B:

- 3 stalks of lemongrass (white part), chopped

- 1 bulb of garlic

- 15 shallots, sliced

- Small piece of galangal

- 8 bird eye chillies (seeds removed)

- 20 dried chillies (soaked and cut into small pieces)

- 1 slice of pineapple, diced

- 1 small piece of belacan (optional)

Ingredients C:

- One onion, sliced

- Some garlic, minced

- Tamarind Juice (tennis ball size of tamarind + ½ cup of water, extract tamarind juice – repeat 3 to 4 times)

- 1 cup of plum sauce

- Salt

- Sugar

- 1 ½ tbs of sliced torch ginger flower (rehydrate in warm water). Tip: You can use the water to cook or drink as tea - very beneficial!

Kantan | Sotong Kerabu | Malay dish by My Blue Tea
Kerabu Sotong Bunga Kantan by Imelia

What else can you do with Torch Ginger?

We have published several recipes including:

(1) Kerabu Bee Hoon by Grace Lim

(3) Nasi with Bunga Kecombrang (Kantan in Malaysia and Kecombrang in Indonesian language)

(4) Torch Ginger mocktail

(5) Torch Ginger tea - learn about the benefits of Torch Ginger.

Method :

1. Marinate chicken drumsticks with turmeric powder, salt and white pepper for at least an hour.

2. Coat the chicken drumsticks with all-purpose flour.

3. Spray some oil on chicken drumsticks and place them in oven and bake 180 c for 20 – 30 minutes until golden brown (depending of size of chicken drumsticks). You can also deep fry the chicken drumsticks if you prefer crunchier drumsticks.

4. Blend Ingredients B into a smooth paste.

5. Heat wok, add oil and sauté sliced onion and garlic.

6. Add in blended spices and sliced torch ginger flower. Fry until fragrant.

7. Add in tamarind juice, plum sauce.

8. Add in salt and sugar.

9. Taste it and adjust according to your liking (You can add more tamarind juice or plum sauce if you prefer the dish to have a stronger tangy sour taste).

10. Simmer until the gravy is slightly bubbling.

11. Add in the baked chicken drumsticks.

12. Stir until all chicken drumsticks are coated with the sauce and the sauce thickens.

13. Dish out, garnish with torch ginger flower, mint leaves, lime juice. (I like to add this a bit as my family prefers tangy dishes).

This recipe is contributed by Siew who loves cooking and exploring food! Her Peranakan background helped her to create this recipe. Follow Siew on Instagram - itsmesiew.

As always, we love to add that finishing touch to our recipes by recommending a lovely drink to go with the dish! You won´t be disappointed with this one!

Create your own Torch Ginger Mocktail or Torch Ginger Mojito using Torch Ginger Syrup recipe below.

Exotic, sweet, flowery. Our Bunga Kantan Jungle flower is all of this and more. Bunga Kantan, or Borneo Pink Torch Ginger gives this beverage a distinctive, local taste, making for a truly iconic Jungle Flower.

Torch Ginger Syrup Recipe


*1 tbspn Torch Ginger dried slices

*1 cup sugar (or as desired)

*1.5 cup water

Cooking Instructions

  1. Combine sugar and water. Stir for a while until the sugar dissolves.

  2. Add the torch ginger dried slices to water (in a pan) and use medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture boils.

  3. After boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

  4. Let cool before draining and storing. Add a bit of water and ice to the syrup. You can use this syrup to create Torch Ginger Mocktail or Mojito. Enjoy!

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