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Basil, Lemon (daun kemangi): A fragrant, lemon-scented herb added at the last
minute to keep its flavor, or used as a grarnish. Although the flavor will be different,
you can use another type of basil.
A round, cream-colored nut with an oily consistency used to add texture and a faint flavor
to many dishes. Substitute macadamia nuts or raw cashews.
About 8-12 intenselu fragrant black seeds are enclosed in strawcolored, fibrous pod. Try to buy the whole pod instead of cardamom seeds
or powder for maximum flavor, and bruise lightly with the back cleaver to break the pod
before adding to seasonings.
The celery used in Indonesia is somewhat different form the celery used in the Western
world. It has a very slender stems and
particularly pungent leaves. It is often
referred to as "Chinese celery" abroad and is used as a herb rather than a
Chilies (cabai, also called
cabe or lombok): There are several types of chili pepper used in Indonesia. One thing that is important about chili pepper, the
amount of heat increases as the size of the chili pepper diminishes. Green chilies are the unripe fruit, and have a
flovor different from red chilies. Fresh,
finger-length red chilies are the most commonly used.
Dried chilies also used in some dishes and they should be torn into pieces
and soaked in hot water to soften before grinding or blending. Hottest of all chilies are the tiny fiery
bird's-eye chilies (cabe rawit). To reduce the
heat of the dish while retaining the flavor, remove some or all the chili's seeds.
Cinnamon (kayu manis):
A thick, dark brown bark of a type of cassia. Do not substitute with ground cinnamon if
Cloves (cengkeh): A
small, brown, nail-shaped spice. Whole cloves are frequently used to flavour cooking
liquids for simmering fish, poultry or meat.
The grated flesh of the coconut is frequently added to food. It can also be squeezed in
water to make coconut milk. To make fresh coconut milk, put 2 cups of freshly grated ripe
coconut into a bowl and add 2 cups of lukewarm water. Squeexe and knead the coconut
thoroughly for 1 minute, then strain thorugh cheesecloth into a bowl to obtain thick
coconut milk. Repeat the process with another 1 cup of water to obtain thin coconut milk.
Combine both for the coconut milk. Coconut milk can be frozen; thaw and stir thoroughly
before use. The best substitute for fresh coconut mik is instant coconut powder. Combine
this with warm water as directed on the packet. For richer, creamier flavor required for
desser and cakes, use canned (unsweetened) coconut cream.
Coriander Seeds (ketumbar):
Small straw-colored seeds with a faintly orange flavor. Whole seeds are usually lightly
crushed before use.
Cumin (jintan): use sparingly as it
has a strong smell.
Cup Leaves (daun mangkok): The shape of the leaf is like a cup. It's also known as tapak leman (Nothopanax
scutellarium) and it usually used to cook stew dishes.
A good substitute is curly kale.
Garlic (bawang putih): The cloves of
garlic in the Western countries are considerably larger. Adjust the amount to suit your
Ginger (jahe): This
pale creamy yellow root is a very important ingredient for Indonesian cooking. Always
scrape the skin off fresh ginger before using, and never substitute powdered ginger as the
taste is quite different. Ginger can be stored in a cool place for several weeks.
Kencur: It is
sometimes known as lesser galangal. This ginger-like root has a unique, champor flavor and
should be used sparingly. Wash it and scrape off the skin before using. Dried sliced
kencur or kencur powder can be used as a substitute. Soak dried slices in boiling water
for approximatley 30 minutes; use ½-1 tsp. of powder for 1-inch fresh root.
Sometimes is called galangal, this is a member of the ginger family and it has a very
tough but elusively scented root that must be peeled before use. Substitute slices of
dried laos (soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes) or powdered laos (1 tsp = 1 inch).
Lemongrass (serai): This
is an intensely fragrant herb that is used for soupd, seafood and meat dishers and spice
pastes to produce lemony flavor. Cut off the roots and peel off the hard outer leaves, use
only the tender bottom portion (6-8 inches).
Lime: There are
several types of lime used in Indonesia. The
most fragrant one is called kaffir lime (jeruk purut).
Kaffir lime has virtually no juice, but the double leaf is often used whole
or very finely shredded, while the grated skin is occasionally used in cooking. The
picture on the right shows Kaffir lime. The
round yellow-skinned limes which size is slightly larger than a golf ball (jeruk nipis)
and small, dark green limes (jeruk limau) are used for their juice. If limes are not available in your area, you can
subsitute it with lemon.
Always grate whole nutmeg just before using as the powdered spice quickly loses its
Palm Sugar (gula jawa):
Juice extracted from the coconut flower or aren palm is boiled and packed into molds to
make sugar with a faint caramel taste. If palm sugar is not available, substitute with
soft brown sugar. To make palm sugar syrup, combine 2 cups of chopped palm sigar with 1
cup of water and 2 pandan leaves. Bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, strain and store
Pandan Leaf (daun pandan):
The fragrant leaf of a type of pandanus sometimes known as fragrant screwpine, this is
tied in a knot and used to flavor dessert and cakes.
Peanuts (kacang tanah): Used raw and
ground to make suace, or deep fried and used as a garnish or condiment.
Both black and white eppercorns are crushed just before usel ground white pwpper is also
used on occasion.
Salam Leaf (daun salam):
A subtly flavored lead of the cassia family, this bears no resemblance whatsoever to the
taste of a bay leaf, which is sometimes suggested as a substitute. If you cannot obtain
dried salam leaf, omit altogether.
Shallots (bawang merah):
Widely used in Indonesian cooking, pounded to make spice pastes, sliced and added to food
before cooking, and sliced and deep fried to make a garnish.
Shrimp Paste (terasi):
This ingredient has a strong fragrance; it is always cooked before eating, generally
toasted over a fire before being combined with other ingredients. The color of this
ingredient range from purplish pink to brownish black.
Slaked Lime (kapur sirih): A paste obtained by grinding sea shells in a little
liquid. This is the lime which is chewed with
betelnuts, gambir and tobacco.
Soy Sauce: There are
two types of soy suace that are used in Indonesian cooking, thick soy sauce (kecap manis),
and the thinner, more salty thin soy sauce (kecap asin). If you cannot obtain sweet soy
sauce, use the dark black Chinese soy sauce and add brown sugar to sweeten it.
The dark brown pod of the tmarind tree contains a sour fleshy pulp, which adds a fruity
sourness to many dishes. Packets of pulp usually contains the seeds and fibers. To make
tamarind juice, measure the pulp and soak it in hot water for 5 minutes before squeezing
it to extract the juice, discarding the seeds, fiber and any skin.
Turmeric (kunyit): An essential root in Indonesian cooking, usually
sold in dried or powdered form in the US and Europe. It
imparts its yellow color and pungent taste to many dishes.
If you can buy fresh turmeric, pick roots that are dark in color.
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