Suna-Cekoh and Base Wangen Recipe

bali spices

Garlic and kencur paste (Suna-cekoh)

Suna-cekoh consists of four main ingredients – garlic and kencur are the primary components, combined with turmeric and candlenuts. You can also add a pinch of Base Wangen if you love peppery flavours.

The intense, vibrant yellow paste has the most alluring, unusual fragrance. A small amount works wonders in peanut sauce and adds an element of luxury to vegetables, soy products and meat, especially chicken. Simmered with coconut milk and extra aromatics, it forms a divine glossy sauce to make you purr.

At Casa Luna, we make the paste every morning and add it to many dishes on the menu to add extra flavour and a distinct aroma.

Pound the ingredients other than the oil to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz in a blender, adding a splash of water to get the mixture moving if needed.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and gently sauté the paste for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Add more oil if necessary. When the paste is ready, it should smell fragrant, the oil should rise to the surface, and the paste should look a little curdled. Leave to cool, then spoon into a jar and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a week.

Makes ¹⁄³ cup

  • 3 candlenuts
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 3 long peppers
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

The Fragrant Spice Mix (Base wangen)

This is a peppery dry spice mix that could be described as Balinese garam masala. It was perhaps originally created as a prophylactic in ancient times, for each ingredient is charged with health properties, whether it be to aid digestion and relieve congestion (pepper and coriander seed for both) or cleanse the liver (nutmeg). Think of it as an offering from Mother Nature’s eco-friendly pharmaceutical cupboard.

Add base wangen to soups, sauces and bread mixes, or treat it like dukkah – mix it with sea salt, serve with crusty Italian bread and a bowl of glossy olive oil, and dip to your heart’s content.

For extra flavour and fragrance, you can dry-roast the ingredients first if desired.

Put the ingredients in a mortar and grind to a fine, sandy powder. (Alternatively, process in a coffee grinder.) Store  in a jar in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 2 weeks.

Makes 3 tablespoons

Still Hungry? Here's more

Don't miss my
next recipe :)

Join my newsletter now to make sure you never miss a recipe or cooking tip from me

about janet deneefe