March 5, 2024

Travel In Bali

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A multi-layered spice paste recipe unlocks the cuisine of Bali | Food

A multi-layered spice paste recipe unlocks the cuisine of Bali | Food

We arrived at Dapur Bali Mula in the village of Desa Les together the rugged northern coastline of Bali just in time to prepare lunch. We were being there to prepare dinner with chef and village priest Jero Mangku Dalem Suci Gede Yudiawan.

When a hectic restaurateur in Kuta, chef Yudi, as he is affectionately known, has located solace in this tranquil seaside community, hrs from the island’s in excess of-touristed beach towns. All through the pandemic, he opened a tiny restaurant where he showcases the bounty of his ancestral land: new-caught seafood this kind of as tuna and octopus juruh, a housemade palm sugar syrup made from lontar palm nectar and sea salt harvested from the nearby coast.

Yudiawan led us into the open kitchen with adjacent workbenches, 1 topped with an enormous volcanic-stone batu foundation (mortar and pestle) and a further with two chunky wooden talenan (chopping boards). Glass jars crammed with aromatics and spices lined a shelf at eye stage. Woven bamboo baskets hung from the rafters above an earthen stove.

I examined a big metal bowl crammed to the brim with ocher-colored spice paste: It was, as I learned, base genep (pronounced baa-ser geh-nep), an vital, functional spice paste used in lots of Balinese recipes, which includes ceremonial dishes these as duck roasted in palm leaves (bebek betutu) and daily meals like shredded rooster (ayam suwir).

Base implies “spice” and genep is “total” in Balinese. And the multilayered paste life up to its title.

Yudiawan pointed to an assortment of elements in a wooden bowl on the workbench: cabe merah (extensive crimson chiles), lengkuas (galangal), kunyit (turmeric), kencur (sand ginger, Kaempferia galanga), jahe (ginger), daun jeruk purut (makrut lime leaf), cabe rawit (bird’s eye chiles), sereh (lemongrass), daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), kemiri (candlenut), tabia bun (very long pepper), lada hitam (black peppercorns), pala (nutmeg), terasi (fermented shrimp paste), bawang putih (garlic) and bawang merah (shallots). They all have a position in his foundation genep.

Combined, these components layer the 6 preferences of the Ayurvedic custom: sweet, bitter, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The Balinese also think that the skin of rhizomes and roots has medicinal rewards and that when left unpeeled, they final result in a additional fragrant paste.

Although the listing of substances may perhaps seem to be challenging, spice pastes are the spine of Balinese – and all Indonesian – cooking, and each Balinese cook has their have model of base genep. I’ve noticed recipes with only a handful of components – garlic, candlenuts, kencur and turmeric – and other people with even far more.

Typically, spice pastes are designed with a mortar and pestle. Some pastes, these as foundation rajang, are finely chopped with a weighty-bladed cleaver known as belakas. It does acquire muscle ability, but there is a procedure to the pounding and grinding. To start with, the components are chopped into small pieces. Then they’re extra to the mortar with a pinch of salt to make friction. Harder substances this kind of as galangal or turmeric go in very first, followed by softer ones – garlic, shallots and the like. Dry spices this sort of as nutmeg and peppercorns can be ground separately.

Having said that, Yudiawan assured me that applying a tiny- to medium-dimensions food items processor (not a blender) is all right.

Nevertheless, the rhythmic character of pounding food stuff with a mortar and pestle can be remarkably meditative: The act of handworking foodstuff connects cook dinner and components, enabling them to channel themselves into every dish. That’s why it really is essential for the cook to have the proper constitution: Feel excellent, say good and be superior, advises Yudiawan.

Independence to experiment

Although he makes use of fresh new components – the Balinese way – it is really not always doable exterior of Bali. In his cookbook “Paon,” chef I Wayan Kresna Yasa suggests substituting one particular contemporary spice for ground in a 3-to-1 ratio (the floor ingredient should really weigh a third of the fresh new just one). And, like Balinese cooks, experience absolutely free to substitute or omit ingredients as vital.

Whilst making spice pastes certainly takes time – you fry the paste in coconut oil anyplace from 10 minutes to two hours – they can be prepped ahead and utilized at a moment’s discover. The more time the paste is fried, the longer it’s going to keep, so if you prepare to use the paste the identical working day, 10 minutes must suffice.

When I requested Yudiawan for the proportion of ingredients that go into his foundation genep, he shrugged and smiled: Balinese cooks use their fingers as measuring resources and their tongues to taste, cooking with instinct and sensation relatively than with guidance.

This became evident when he carried out his culinary magic on the tuna introduced in by local fishermen that morning.

Every dish is braced by base genep, and improved with rempah – various aromatic extras these as torch ginger or turmeric leaves – and penyedap, elements this sort of as shrimp paste or fried shallots.

When we sat down to eat, I reflected on what I experienced uncovered that early morning. In seeking to emulate Yudiawan, I failed to get down precise measurements or cooking periods. How was I heading to replicate these dishes in my household kitchen area, I questioned.

In some way, I was supplied the liberty to experiment with what I discovered – and my individual senses – to produce my edition of base genep working with substances out there to me, and subsequently a recipe for ayam suwir (shredded hen with Balinese spice paste). So even while I didn’t convey home any created recipes from my excursion, I know that with observe and the ideal structure, I can cook the Balinese way.

Foundation Genep (Balinese Spice Paste)

Recipe adapted by food items author Pat Tanumihardja from chef and Hindu priest Jero Mangku Dalem Suci Gede Yudiawan of the cafe Dapur Bali Mula in Desa Les, Bali.

Active time: 40 minutes | Full time: 1 hour

20 servings (tends to make about 1 1/4 cups)

Storage notes: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

The place to acquire: New turmeric, galangal, makrut lime leaves and shrimp paste can be found at Asian marketplaces.


5 ounces shallots (about 4 smaller), peeled and coarsely chopped

8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 prolonged, fresh crimson chiles, this kind of as Fresno or cayenne, stemmed and seeded, if desired

4 clean pink Thai chiles, stemmed and seeded, if desired

A person (4-inch) piece new turmeric, coarsely chopped

A person (2-inch) piece new ginger, coarsely chopped

One (1/2-inch) piece galangal, coarsely chopped

2 lemongrass stalks, outer layer taken off, tops and base root finishes sliced off (reserve the tops), tender white bulbs chopped into slim slices

4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided (might substitute with a further neutral oil these kinds of as canola or safflower)

1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional might substitute with fish sauce)

2 makrut lime leaves

4 cloves, finely ground

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly floor black pepper


In the bowl of a food stuff processor, combine the shallots, garlic, red and Thai chiles, turmeric, ginger, galangal, chopped lemongrass bulb, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and shrimp paste, if employing. Pulse (don’t course of action) till a sleek paste resembling cooked oatmeal is fashioned – a few coarse bits listed here and there are great.

In a massive skillet or wok about medium warmth, soften the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Add the spice paste and cook dinner, tossing regularly to be certain it won’t melt away, till fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Include the reserved lemongrass tops, lime leaves (crumpled to release their vital oils), cloves, nutmeg and black pepper and continue on cooking, stirring each several minutes and modifying the heat as required to stop the paste from burning, until it turns many shades darker to golden brown/ocher, about 30 minutes. Eliminate from the heat and let great fully. Discard any big herbs, transfer to a lidded jar and refrigerate until eventually desired.

Nutrition info for each serving (1 tablespoon) | Calories: 49 Whole Fat: 3 g Saturated Excess fat: 2 g Cholesterol: mg Sodium: 4 mg Carbohydrates: 6 g Nutritional Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 1 g Protein: 1 g

Ayam Suwir Bumbu Bali (Shredded Chicken With Balinese Spice Paste)

From meals author Pat Tanumihardja.

Active time: 15 minutes | Complete time: 30 minutes, in addition time to make Base Genep (see related recipe)

4 servings

In Bali, this straightforward dish is commonly served with a scoop of rice and a facet of fresh veggies known as lalapan – meals writer Pat Tanumihardja prefers sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. A exceptional way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken, this recipe also works effectively with canned tuna. For a cross-cultural culinary twist, provide ayam suwir as a taco filling!

You can use brown sugar in its place of coconut or palm sugar, but think about applying just 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar since brown sugar is sweeter.

If applying cooked hen, just shred it as directed, and exactly where the recipe phone calls for reserved cooking liquid, use h2o or rooster broth.

Storage notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 times.

Where by to purchase: Coconut or palm sugar can be observed at Asian markets or on-line.


1 pound bone-in skin-on chicken thighs or breasts or 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cooked chicken (see Notes)

2 makrut lime leaves, divided

1/2 teaspoon great salt, plus additional as essential

6 tablespoons base genep (see linked recipe)

1/4 cup unsweetened full-body fat coconut milk

1 teaspoon coconut or palm sugar (see Notes)

2 teaspoons contemporary lime juice

1/4 cup chopped purple bell pepper (optional)

Sliced lengthy pink chiles (optional)

Cooked jasmine rice, for serving

Sliced cucumbers, for serving (optional)

Sliced tomatoes, for serving (optional)


Area the hen in a modest saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Crumple 1 lime leaf and insert it to the saucepan, alongside with a pinch of salt. Established the saucepan over medium heat and convey to a boil, skimming off any gray scum that rises to the area.

Protect, take out from the warmth and enable sit until eventually the chicken is cooked and registers at the very least 165 degrees on an quick-go through thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the hen absent from the bone, 15 to 20 minutes. The juices must operate obvious when you pierce the chicken with a knife.

Let sit till interesting enough to cope with, then shred the rooster with your fingers or two forks and reserve the cooking liquid (see Notes).

In a medium skillet above medium heat, stir alongside one another the foundation genep, coconut milk, 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid and the remaining lime leaf, and carry to a simmer.

Incorporate the hen, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Change the heat as required to maintain a simmer, and prepare dinner right up until most of the liquid has evaporated but the hen is still moist, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the lime juice, flavor, and period with more sugar, salt and/or lime juice, if wanted. Stir in the bell pepper and chiles, if employing, until blended and take away from the warmth. Clear away the lime leaf.

Divide the hen among the shallow bowls and serve with rice and veggies.

Notes: You can use brown sugar in its place of coconut or palm sugar, but take into account using just 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar since brown sugar is sweeter.

If utilizing cooked hen, simply shred it as directed. Where by the recipe calls for reserved cooking liquid, use drinking water or rooster broth.

Nourishment information and facts for each serving | Calories: 334 Full Extra fat: 14 g Saturated Body fat: 6 g Cholesterol: 73 mg Sodium: 371 mg Carbs: 24 g Nutritional Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 1 g Protein: 26 g

This evaluation is an estimate centered on out there ingredients and this planning. It must not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s assistance.