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Balinese Spices

in Blog
November 18, 2021
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Balinese cuisine relies on basic spices or base genep. The ingredients that make up the spices used in all traditional Balinese dishes are galangal, ginger, aromatic ginger (kencur), shallots, garlic, turmeric, large chilies, cayenne pepper, candlenut, black pepper, and coriander.

Some ancient Balinese inscriptions, indicate that spices were also associated with worship. People are required to offer several types of spices.

Luh Suwita Utami, archaeologist at the Denpasar Archaeological Center, in “Society Aspects Behind the Food in Ancient Balinese Inscriptions”, published in the Archaeological Forum Vol. 25 No. August 2, 2012, explained that the ancient Balinese people, especially those living around Lake Batur, used to make offerings in the form of food. This offering is not only to fulfill obligations to sacred buildings, but also to palace officials or guests.

The inscription records the Bhatara ceremony on every 5th day of the half-dark month (Tilem) of Asuji Month. The people of Air Rawang Village are required to mamek base or make spices. The types of spices mentioned are shallot, ginger, cardamom, and candlenut.

Making the Spices

To make the base genep seasoning, we have to follow the method that is usually done by the Balinese people, which is to measure the amount of spices using our fingers. The index finger is used to measure turmeric, the middle finger to measure galangal, the ring finger to measure ginger and the little finger to measure the aromatic ginger (kencur).

Don’t forget, add the onion and garlic with each measure, which is half of the 4 main key ingredients. Then add the chili with half the amount of onions and the rest used for other spices. You must also provide shrimp paste and salt as ingredients from the sea. Then complete all the ingredients needed in making the seasoning.

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