A Balinese feast

Balinese Feast Challenge – Saturday 18 June 2005

Saturday 18 June, 2005

VENUE: Bayfield Gardens

ATTENDING: Andrew, Christopher, Christine, Julie, Pat, Kevin, Irene, John, Uve


  • Base Gede (Balinese Spice Paste Mix) – Julie
  • Sayur Urab (Mixed Vegetable with Grated Coconut) – Christine
  • Tuna Sambal Matah – John
  • Tempe Manis (Sweet Fried Tempe) – Kevin
  • Opur Ayam (Chicken Curry) – Christopher
  • Sate Lilit (Balinese Chicken Satays) – Pat
  • Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) – Andrew
  • Black Rice Pudding (or other suitable desert) – Irene


Andrew at work with the patented Balinese coconut grater

Andrew at work with the patented Balinese coconut grater


Following are the recipes we decided to try. I’ve cooked these, under the guidance of some wonderful cooks in Bali last year. They aren’t difficult, and the ingredients are generally available these days.

The idea is that each person will bring the ingredients for a single dish and we will cook them on the night at John’s house.

Irene and Julie hard at work with the 'bumbu paste

Irene and Julie hard at work with the ‘bumbu paste

Some of the recipes can be commenced, in the form of some preliminary slicing and dicing, but don’t do any actual cooking until the night. They come together pretty quickly, especially if all the ingredients are prepared and measured in readiness. I’ve marked the recipes accordingly.


I’ll be bringing a selection of sarongs, and I expect everyone to wear them. If you would rather bring your own sarong, please do.

Kevin and Chris in traditional Balinese attire

Kevin and Chris in traditional Balinese attire


I’ll bring my mortar and pestle, for any necessary grinding or to settle any unforseen disagreements, as well as my coconut grater as I don’t expect the average batterie de cuisine is likely to be able to provide such an implement (although a well-stocked tool shed might!). And dried desiccated coconut simply WILL NOT DO.

Chop chop, bang bang

Chop chop, bang bang

I’ll bring my wok and gas ring. The rest can happen on John’s stove, or under the grill. I’ll also bring my rice cooker for steamed rice.

Irene at work on the wok

Irene at work on the wok

The Balinese do not use chopsticks. Traditionally they would eat with their fingers, although forks and spoons are acceptable.


I also have a stock of shrimp paste, which I will bring, to save others the bother of purchasing a quite pungent ingredient they are unlikely to use much of in their lifetimes.

Most of us will need oil. To save bringing seven or more lots of oil, I suggest John provides basic vegetable or blended oil (the tempe dish requires about three cups or so for deep frying).

We will aim to meet and start cooking around 5.00pm, but if anyone is running a bit late, don’t panic. We’ll just start with those that are there and work on through.

It should be fun. Don’t panic.

– Andrew

Julie and Christine looking somewhat nonplussed with the satay

Julie and Christine looking somewhat nonplussed with the satay

Christine, John and Uve

Christine, John and Uve


Balinese Feast Recipes

Balinese Spice Paste Mix – ‘Base Gede’

  • 25 shallots or 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 7 large red chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cm (2 in) galangal peeled & chopped
  • 5 cm (2 in) kencur root peeled & chopped (sometimes called lesser galangal or cekuk in Balinese – substitute dried sliced or powdered kencur, or omit altogether)
  • 5 cm Ginger, peeled & chopped
  • 10 cm (4 in) fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped or 2 tblspns powdered turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 6 candlenuts, or substitute 3 tblspns ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg (or powdered nutmeg)
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil


Pound in a mortar and pestle or use a blender, all the above ingredients except the oil

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy pan, add the blended spice mix and cook over a high heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until the mix turns golden. Cool before using.


Sayur Urab (Mixed Vegetable with Grated Coconut)

Sayur Urab is a vegetable dish that is usually made with a green vegetable and grated coconut. In this dish, long green beans, spinach and beansprouts may be used.

  • 500g long green beans (and/or spinach and/or beansprouts and/or carrots, or substitute any soft vegetable)
  • 1 cup grated coconut (just bring a fresh coconut and we’ll grate it with my Balinese coconut grater – dried coconut DOES NOT WORK.
  • 2 long red chilies
  • 3 hot green chilies
  • 10 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp salt

Finely chop the chilies, shallots and garlic.

Cook green beans in boiling water for four minutes (start with carrots, if using). Drain beans and chop. Fry the shallots until half cooked, add the chilies, garlic and shrimp paste and continue frying until fragrant.

In a bowl mix together the vegetables, grated coconut and spice mix. Serve.


Tuna Sambal Matah

In this recipe, fish is fried and topped with a spicy sambal. The recipe can be made with tuna or any meaty fish. The Balinese usually use a fish they call pindang.

  • Tuna in small steaks
  • 3 hot chilies
  • 15 shallots
  • 2 blades of lemongrass
  • 1 5cm piece ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ a lime

Chop chillies, shallots, lemongrass and ginger into small pieces

Fry tuna steaks for about five minutes. Remove from heat and cut the tuna into bite-sized chunks. Place into a dish.

In a bowl, mix together the chillies, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, salt, pepper and oil. Add the lime and squeeze mixture with hands to blend the flavours.

To serve, spread the sambal over the tuna.


Tempe Manis (Sweet Fried Tempe)

  • One block (about 500g) firm tempe
  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 2 cups small dried fish (ikan bilis)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (or palm sugar)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Oil for frying

Cut raw tempe into fine strips, approx 3-4 mm wide and 3-4 cm long (ie, a bit like thick matchsticks)

Fry tempe in small batches until it just starts to turn brown, then set aside. Fry peanuts, set aside. Fry dried fish, set aside. Fry chopped garlic and chillies. Mix in salt and pepper. Add tempe, peanuts and fish. Mix in sugar, stir completely and remove from heat. Serve.


Opur Ayam (Chicken Curry)

  • 1 portion of spice mix (see above)
  • 1 large chicken, in small pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tblspns oil
  • 2 blades of lemongrass
  • 2-3 large carrots
  • 3-4 large potatoes
  • 2 cups coconut milk (or a tin)

Add salt and oil to spice mix, coat chicken with spice mix, place in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Gently cook, covered, for thirty minutes. Chop the lemongrass, peel and cut vegetables into large pieces and add all to pot with coconut milk. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes.


Sate Lilit (Balinese Chicken Satays)

Balinese satays are made from minced meat mixed with spice paste and coconut milk. The mince is then moulded onto bamboo sticks (substitute bamboo chopsticks or ‘paddlepop’ sticks), before being grilled. Ideally the sticks should be a bit rough to help the meat stay put. They are not served with a separate sauce.

  • 1 kg chicken mince
  • 32 bamboo chopsticks or other sticks
  • Quantity Balinese spice mix (ref Julie)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tblspns dark brown (or palm) sugar
  • 1½ cups coconut milk

Mix meat and spices, sugar and coconut milk. Wrap a small amount of the mixture around the end of each stick. Grill for about 10 minutes.