March 18, 2013

Ayam Taliwang, A Memory from Bali

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Kafe Batan Waru is one of Bali Good Food's restaurants, which is located on Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali that I often dine in when I am back to Indonesia. I love the atmosphere, I love the staffs, and I love the food. I go there so often that right now I can have a vision sitting at one of those chairs, overlooking the street, and watching the passers by while munching away lemper ayam or lumpiah as a starter. 

Dining in Kafe Batan Waru when I just landed for several hours on this lovely island is like a child learning more Indonesian flavours that I have been missing during my living abroad. Although I often cook Indonesian food at my Kiwi kitchen, it just is not the same. In New Zealand, many of the ingredients on a recipe I have to omit because of its rarity or if I'm lucky enough I might bump into some ice-burnt items from the frozen bins in an Asian groceries shop. But it is not often the case. The thing like kencur (kaempferia galanga), I have given up looking now. The shop keepers always raise their eyebrows when I ask about a specific herb like that, indicating it is a foreigner.

I often have a thought to smuggle kencur from Bali, but as a good citizen of New Zealand, I don't ever try as I know it is impossible to happen. Well, it might happen, but I might end up paying fine for it, since New Zealand custom is very strict on biosecurity check. Even when I declare, perhaps the herbs will end up in an airport bin or destroyed by the biosecurity officers. I may be right or I may be wrong.

To tell you the truth, that is the herb I miss so much, as there is a number of dish uses this herb for a complete Indonesian recipe and flavour. Pecel (Javanese steamed green leaves with peanut sauce) does not taste like it when it misses kencur in its peanut sauce, to name a few.

Fortunately, when I craved for Ayam Taliwang, kencur is not required, so I am just quite happy to cook it. I first eat Ayam Taliwang at this very restaurant, Kafe Batan Waru, Bali, although Ayam Taliwang itself is told to be Mataram's delicacy. They served it with a small bowl of rice placed nicely in a traditional bamboo-woven bowl, a plate of sauteed water spinach, and a bowl heap of sweet chili sambal

The sambal was so deliciously red, I could just lick the bowl empty. Surely, they are generous with sambal. If you do love it, just never miss Chili Crab Tuesday they often hold as a weekly deal. You'll be devoured by lovely sweet chili sauce! 

I brought that memory back to my Kiwi kitchen, just like when I experienced that green mango salad with crispy fish and cooked it at home to become Crispy Fish and Granny Smiths Salad with Thai Dressing. With Ayam Taliwang, I have made a research and I decided to do it my way.

Here is what I do.

Ayam Taliwang

Ayam Taliwang
I am using chicken legs for this dish. You can use fresh chilies if you'd like, but I use dried chilies because the chilies in my garden are still green. The hotness of the chili paste can be made to your liking. I tend to use less chilies because I cannot eat too much chilies any more, and neither can the rest of my family member. I love using kaffir lime leaf for more flavour and scent, but you can omit it if you don't feel like it.

1.5kg chicken legs
half lime, juiced
Sweet Chili Paste: 3 shallots, 3 garlic, 1 dried chilies, toasted shrimp paste, a pinch of salt, 1 Tbs of shaved palm sugar, oil to marinate (blend all of these ingredients in a blender or mortal and pestle until smooth)

Make Chili Paste:
8 large shallots, peeled
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
8 dried red chilies
1 Tbs shrimp paste, toasted
1 tsp shaved dark palm sugar
1 tsp white sugar
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped
juice of one lime

oil to cook

Clean and trim chicken legs. Pat dry. Marinate the chicken in sweet chili paste in a ovenproof dish. Cover with aluminum foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160C. Slow roast the chicken for 30 minutes. The chicken should be just half-cooked. We will finish them on a grill later on, getting that lovely char on them. Remove from the oven. 

Heat the grill. Grill the chicken, basting it often with both the rest of the marinate mixture and the chili paste until they are all used and the chicken are thoroughly cooked. Serve warm with the vegetables of your choice and warm fluffy jasmine rice. We enjoy them with turmeric rice, microgreens, sliced of tomatoes and cucumber.

Chili Paste: Roughly chopped shallots, garlic and red chilies. Grind in the mortar and pestle until smooth. Grind in toasted shrimp paste, sugar, and chopped kaffir lime leaf. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Sauteed the paste until your kitchen smells heavenly exotic. Add in lime juice and remove from the heat to cool. Use this chili paste to baste the chicken while grilling.


Alessandra said...

Even if I don't eat meat you made me feel like visiting Bali again! And not only you, the last two days I had to write an article about some fancy hotels, including one in Bali, and because I google it now every time I am on the net the google ads keep telling me things about Bali (they know....brrr) and then you post about Balinese food... it must be a sign :-).


Nisa's Mom said...

Mba Arfi,di US pun Kencur susah di dapat. Sekali pernah di kirim dari Boston - di kemasan nya tertulis Zedoary Powder, Mungkin kalau di NZ bisa ketemu dengan nama yang sama mba.. *wishing you luck :)

*your pictures are awesome!!

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