Recipe and Photography: Amber Bremner
Balinese curry starts with a fresh curry paste, or base gede. Some of the ingredients are harder to find outside of Indonesia, but there are easy substitutions that can be made for most of them. If you can’t find fresh or dried galangal, leave it out and double the quantity of ginger. The curry paste ingredients are traditionally ground together using an ulekan, or traditional wide, flat bottomed mortar and pestle. At home in New Zealand I used a typical round mortar and pestle to do the job, and you could also use a small food processor to grind the paste ingredients together – though the paste won’t be quite as smooth or full flavoured.
For the curry paste:
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 long red chillis, sliced
1‒3 small hot red chillis, sliced (optional for extra heat)
1 tsp ground turmeric or a 2cm piece of fresh turmeric root
2cm piece of fresh ginger
½ tsp ground galangal or a ½cm piece of fresh galangal root
2 candlenuts or 4 macadamias
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp white peppercorns
4 tbsp coconut oil, divided
250g tempeh, cubed
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can light coconut cream
2‒3 kaffir lime leaves or a squeeze of lime juice
salt to season
Begin by grinding the paste ingredients together until they come together in a reasonably smooth paste. This can be done using a mortar and pestle, or a small food processor.
Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a fry pan and fry the cubed tempeh until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of coconut oil in the same fry pan, then fry the curry paste for 2‒3 minutes until fragrant. Add the tempeh back into the pan, along with the potato, kaffir lime leaves and about three-quarters of a can of coconut cream (or the full can if needed—you want the curry to be saucy but not too saucy).
Season with a little salt and simmer for 10‒15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the potato is tender. Once cooked, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.