RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Balinese Beef Rendang – Rendang Sapi

In keeping with Hindu dietary restrictions, beef is seldom served in a Balinese household. That doesn’t mean it’s forbidden though! Meat in Bali, is always cooked with a pile of fresh spices that tenderize, preserve, uplift and nurture. It’s also about aiding digestion and a dash of tamarind, a few sprightly gingers and lemongrass will always help that process.

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This recipe is a Balinese version of rendang and spotlights the acclaimed trio of galangal, turmeric and ginger, that constantly feature in Indonesian cooking. It has all the virtues of a slow-cooked stew; comforting, full of flavour, tender and deeply aromatic. It is also a joy to cook as the aroma that floats around the house, while the curry is simmering in the pot, is glorious.

SPICE PASTE

  • 8 red shallots, roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 6 long red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped 4 tablespoons chopped galangal
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 6 candlenuts, dry-roasted in a wok
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cummin
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 salam leaves
  • 500 ml coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 500 g beef topside, in curry-size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, mixed with a 1⁄4 cup water and strained
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
  • fried shallots to garnish

Pound the spice paste ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz in a food processor with a little water if necessary to get the mixture moving.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and fry the spice paste for 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves and salam leaves and toss around for another 30 seconds, until glossy and fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for another minute, then add the sliced beef, tamarind and palm sugar. Simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and reduced.

Serve with steamed rice, topped with fried shallots. Serves 4

You can discover more recipes in my book Bali: Food of My Island Home

RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Black-rice pudding – Bubur injin

Black rice pudding is one of Bali’s most famous desserts that, once upon a time, used to feature on the breakfast menu of most simple guesthouses around the island. Traditionally served as an in-between snack, it’s glossy blackness and almost chocolatey flavour makes it both intriguing and alluring. Mornings or afternoons, you can usually find black rice pudding on sale at simple food stalls at local markets, along with other syrupy porridge-like treats. These comforting dishes are the domain of mothers and grandmas who are the experts of all that is “sugar and spice and everything nice.”

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My sister-in-law, Karsi, taught me how to make Black rice pudding and walked me through the subtleties of achieving the perfect flavour and consistency. She liked to serve it mixed with tiny pieces of ripe jackfruit. I love it best served with sliced bananas on top. In Bali, a little white rice is cooked with the black rice to create a more interesting texture, a little softness to contrast with the chewiness of the black grain. And the final layer of smoky, roasted coconut adds another divine element.

  • 1/2 cup black glutinous rice
  • 2 tablespoons glutinous white rice or regular white rice 1 pandan leaf (1 tsp pandan essence)
  • 1 vanilla pod, split or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 200 g palm sugar, grated

ROASTED COCONUT MILK 500–750 ml coconut milk pinch of sea salt

Soak the black rice in a bowl of water for a minimum of 6 hours. Stir in the white rice and leave for another 2 hours.

Tip the rice and water into a large heavy-based saucepan and add extra water to cover the rice by 10 cm. Add the pandan leaf, vanilla pod and salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until most of the water has evaporated and the rice is soft enough to eat, with a texture like soft brown rice. This should take at least 1 hour, and you might need to top up the water during cooking. When the rice is cooked, stir

in the palm sugar and continue to simmer over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Check the flavour.

To serve, spoon the rice into bowls and top with the coconut milk, fruit and toasted coconut. Or serve it with coconut panna cotta.

Serves 4–6

RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Tamarind-chilli fruit salad – Rujak

One of Indonesia’s national treasures, and also found in Malaysia and Singapore, rujak, is the ubiquitous afternoon snack. When the sun starts its descent and the heat of the day starts to dull the brain, just about every Balinese I know tucks into this action-packed fruit salad with a savoury dressing that is guaranteed to slap you out of a tropical slump.

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It combines the energizing four pillars of Asian cooking: sweet, sour, spicy and salty, and it clears the mind, refreshes the palette, speeds up the metabolism and offers a generous dose of vitamin C, iron, folic acid and calcium. Pregnant women crave its strong flavours, and rightly so.

As soon as my children are home from school, they feast on rujak mixed with any amount of seasonal fruit. My son, Krishna, loves it with pomelo, grapefruit and orange, while my daughters love it with grated carrot, red papaya and tomato. Most men I know prefer to eat rujak at the local warung (food stall), so that this addictive afternoon snack includes a little cuci mata, which translates as ‘washing of the eyes’ but really means admiring the bunga desa – the village ‘flowers’ on the street, of which Bali seems to have more than its fair share!

There are several types of rujak, but in Bali it is usually based on a dressing of palm sugar, tamarind, chilli and shrimp paste. You can use fish sauce or dried prawns instead of shrimp paste, and vegetarians can leave out the fish factor altogether. Kecap manis can also be used in place of the palm sugar. The dressing can double as a superb marinade for meat, seafood, tofu, eggplant, mushrooms and more. Drizzle it over an Asian ’slaw or use it as a dip for spring rolls, chicken wings or samosas. Rujak is the perfect starter for any Indonesian meal or it can be served as a lively salad with a main course.

  • 3 cups thinly sliced fruit and certain vegetables, such as ripe mango, pineapple, apple, red papaya, pink grapefruit, orange, tomato and cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 small red chillies
  • 1⁄2 – 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, roasted
  • 5 tablespoons tamarind pulp, mixed with 1/2 cup water and strained 6 tablespoons palm-sugar, grated
  • sea salt to taste

Put your choice of fruit and vegetables in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt and the water. Mix well and place in the refrigerator and leave for an hour. The salt will tenderise and extract any bitterness from the fruit and vegetables.

Put the chillies, shrimp paste and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pound until the seeds of the chillies are crushed and the skin has broken down somewhat. Add the tamarind and lightly crush the pulp without breaking the seeds. Stir in the palm-sugar syrup. (Alternatively, you can make the dressing in a blender, but make sure you remove the tamarind seeds first. )

Drain the fruit and vegetables and toss with the dressing. Taste for a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours, and adjust if needed. There will probably be tamarind seeds left behind. Make sure you don’t eat these!

Serves 4

Discover more amazing Indonesian recipes from my cookbook Bali: Food of My Island Home

RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Green fried rice – Nasi goreng hijau

Perhaps Indonesia’s national dish, nasi goreng is enjoying a curious renaissance, appearing in all shapes and sizes across the archipelago in oh-so creative combinations of meats, herbs and garnishes. If you wander through the food courts of Indonesia’s glam shopping malls, you will see modern reinterpretations of it wherever you look. I recently found this particularly delicious nasi goreng on my travels in Jakarta. However, in the spirit of nasi goreng, feel free to add what you like (providing it tastes good!) as nasi goreng is all about experimentation.

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SPICE PASTE

  • 2 red shallots or 1⁄2 onion, finely chopped 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large green chilli, sliced
  • 2 small green chillies, sliced (optional) 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped leek
  • 120 g shelled raw prawns, finely chopped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, rolled into a bundle and finely shredded 11/2 cups chopped choy sum or bok choy
  • 1/4 cup snow peas, blanched
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 teaspoon kecap manis
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped lemon basil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fried shallots to serve
  • 1 grilled extra-large prawn to serve
  • large krupuk to serve

Put the spice paste ingredients in a mortar and pound to a smooth paste, or blitz in a blender.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and fry the spice paste for about 30 seconds.

Add the leek and prawns, lime leaves and toss for about 30 seconds, then add the vegetables and sauces. Toss until the vegetables are barely cooked. Add the rice and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon basil. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and more sauces if needed. Serve topped with fried shallots, the grilled prawn and krupuk.

Serves 1

Discover more amazing Indonesian recipes from my cookbook Bali: Food of My Island Home

My favourite places to shop in Ubud

From unique boutiques to covetable keepsakes and handcrafted creations, Ubud has treasures aplenty. Here are just some of my personal favourite places to shop in the local area.

Blue Stone Botanicals in Ubud offers a glorious range of soaps, essential oils, balms and burners. You can find the perfect aromatherapy present here or something to soothe and scent your world.

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www.bluestonebotanicals.com

Nava Bali Ceramics in Monkey Forest Road has theee cutest tea-pots and zen-style cups, plates and accessories in matt ivory-white with teak trimmings with tea spoons and other accessories to match.

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Lilla Lane on Monkey Forest Road near the soccer field is where I always buy my summery sandals. They are elegant, super comfortable and a great price.

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www.lillalane.com

For homewares in Ubud I have to say my own store, The Emporium, next to Casa Luna. It has the best bed linen in town with batik or plain trimmings. You can find quilts, cushions, napkins and table runners here too.

 

Find us at:

The Emporium
Jalan Raya (next to Casa Luna)
Ubud, Bali
Indonesia 80571

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Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/CasaLunaGroup