Master bumbu

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About


  • 200 g (7 oz) red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 100 g ( oz) garlic cloves, peeled
  • 150 g ( oz) large red chillies, seeded
  • 90 g (3 oz) turmeric, peeled
  • 50 g (2 oz) kencur, peeled
  • 35 g ( oz) galangal, skin scrubbed
  • 35 g ( oz) ginger, peeled
  • 40 g ( oz) candlenuts or blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 75 ml ( cup) oil
  • 1 lemongrass stick, bruised
  • 2 salam leaves (optional)


Roughly chop the first seven ingredients and add to a high-speed blender or food processor with the candlenuts, shrimp paste and dried spices (not the lemongrass or salam leaves). Blend to a paste, add 100 ml (scant ½ cup) water and blend again.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the spice paste, lemongrass and salam leaves. Cook over a medium heat until the water has evaporated, the oil is separating from the spices and the paste smells beautifully fragrant. With a quantity this large, this can take half an hour or more. Portion into ice-cube trays and freeze for future use.