Many of you would have heard about the tragedy of flight MH370 by now. My heart is heavy, i can't imagine the sadness and grief felt by victims' loved ones. Before you read on, may i ask that you keep the victims and their loved ones in your prayers...
Spanning across an archipelago of 18,000 thousand islands with 6,000 populated ones, Indonesian cuisine reflects the diverse culture and traditions of its people. Each region has its own specialities influenced by local and foreign culture in that particular region. As an example the Padang style food from the people of West Sumatra is very spicy and rich in coconut milk while Javanese food from the island of Java is simpler, not as spicy and tend to have some sweetness in them. Pork is not widely served in Indonesia except in the mystical islands of Bali. I guess their national motto "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" which means “Unity in Diversity” is reflected in their cuisines too. However, despite the diversity, Indonesian dishes are generally rich in spice.
I decided to try out this dish named Ayam Masak Habang which means Chicken cooked in Red Chilli Sauce. I had a feeling that it will be something that will not be too far from the family's tastebuds judging from the list of ingredients. I am quite afraid of that 'What's this you are feeding us?' which i get occasionally when i try to be a little adventurous! This is a dish by the Banjar people in South Kalimantan. Although this an everyday dish it also served during festive occasions. During celebrations, it is served with Nasi Kuning (i.e. Yellow Rice), rice cooked with herbs and coconut milk.
This dish went very well with the fragrant herb rice, spicy but not overpowering and has a combination of sweet sourish taste. I served it with some fresh tomato and cucumber slices plus taking a cue from how the Indonesians love serving egg omelette as a side dish, i added my chinese style crabstick omelette to complete this meal :)
There is one thing i must confess though, I am not too sure if i understood one of the ingredients correctly, recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of ground red chilli pepper to be soaked in some water. I assumed that it was chilli powder since it was measured in tablespoons.
Source: Indonesia Eats
- 1 kg chicken pieces (thighs, drumstick, breast bone in and skin on) - (5 thighs)
- 1 lime
- 5 salam (Indonesian bay) leaves
- 4 cm cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 300ml boiled water
- 100ml cooking oil (70ml)
- 3 cm ginger, peeled
- 125 grams shallots
- 100 grams garlics
- 3 tablespoons ground red chili pepper, soaked in a small amount of hot water (2 tbsp)
- 4 tablespoons coconut sugar - (3 tbsp)
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (terasi), roasted - (belacan)
- 2 tablespoons tamarind, dissolved in small amount of water
- Drizzle lime juice over chicken pieces. Leave in the fridge while preparing spices for grinding.
- Soak the roasted dried shrimp paste in tamarind liquid.
- Grind all the spices that are to be ground with a food processor.
- Heat up your wok, add the cooking oil then stir fry the ground spices, salam leaves, cinnamon and cloves. Add coconut sugar. You can add more if you want a darker colour.
- Toss in the chicken pieces, keep stirring until chicken turns colour. Add the boiled water. Cook until the sauce thickens and reduce the heat to low. Once the sauce is oily and drier, remove from the heat.
- Ready to serve with nasi kuning.
- My variations in blue.
- I used the traditional pestle and mortar to pound the spice since my old blender that i used for spices chose to gave up on me at just the time i wanted to use it for this.
- Mine has a lighter shade compared to the original recipe, i suspect it's probably due to lesser amount of chilli and coconut sugar used.
Recipe - Nasi Kuning
Source: Indonesia Eats
- 2 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained
- 2 1/4 cups coconut milk (50ml coconut milk plus water as per stated on rice cooker)
- 3/4 cup chicken stock(or vegetable stock for vegetarian) (1 tsp chicken stock powder)
- 1 salam (Indonesian bay) leaf
- 2 lime kaffir leaves
- 1 pandan/screwpine leaf (or few drops pandan essence) (1 pandan leaf)
- 1 stalk lemon grass, bruised
- 3/4 – 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 cm galangal, cut in 4 lengthwise slices salt as desired (omitted salt)
- Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker or heavy stock pot and simmer, covered, until done.
- Discard lemongrass, galangal, salam and kaffir lime leaves before serving.
- I used a rice cooker to cook it hence i am not too sure about the amount of water to be used when a pot is used instead.
- Hint from source for cooking with a pot- Cook the rice in a pot over high heat until the liquid starts to a boil. Turn down the heat and continue to cook gently to avoid scorching on bottom of the pot.