Before I moved to Southeast Asia I had always considered Indonesian cuisine as unhealthy and unimaginative. My limited views were coloured by a family holiday to Bali, many years ago, where we ate copious amounts of sticky chicken skewers covered in glutinous peanut sauce. But Indonesian food is more than just satay and peanuts. In fact, most people do not appreciate that satay refers to the preparation of meat on skewers rather than peanut sauce.
I’ve visited Indonesia several times during the past two years during which I took cooking classes in Bali and in Gili Air as well as visited several local markets. My views on Indonesian cooking were proven wrong; dead wrong! Indonesian food is complex. In fact, Indonesia is very special because many unique seeds and spices are native to this stretch of islands. Nutmeg, turmeric, coriander seeds, tabiabun, sesame seeds and ginger are just a few of the delightful pickings cooks have at their disposal.
If you asked me to describe Indonesian food now, I would say it is a combination of hot, sweet and fragrant flavours and tastes. They say Indonesian women never need to go to the gym because they get a workout in the kitchen. The preparation time required for most meals is lengthy, and it involves a lot of crushing and grinding of roots and herbs into pastes to form a basis for curries and stir fries.
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