I know that Indonesian cooking is a labour intensive. That is why there are four basic spices in Indonesian cooking. These basic spice pastes are named after its colour; red (merah), orange (oranye), yellow (kuning) and white (putih).
This basic yellow spice paste is good for making soto ayam lamongan (Lamongan style chicken soup), Ayam Goreng Kuning (yellow fried chicken), Soto Babat (beef tripe soup), Pepes Fish (steamed/baked fish in banana leaves), Laksa either the Bogor or Betawi/Jakarta style, Indonesian Acar Fish (yellow spiced and sour fish), Soto Mie (beef noodle soup). The bottom line, any Indonesian dishes that include turmeric can do a short-cut with this basic yellow spice paste.
The Indonesian also loves using fresh turmeric roots as they have more distinct fragrant flavour compare to the dried or powder ones.
Bumbu Dasar Kuning
Indonesian Basic Yellow Spice Paste
500 grams shallots
325 grams cloves garlic
150 grams fresh turmeric roots, toasted and scraped
150 grams candlenuts, toasted
100 grams ginger, scraped
100 grams galangal (optional)*
2 teaspoons white peppercorn
2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons seasalt
1. If you have more energy and patience, you can use a mortar and pestle. However, if you don’t, just use a food processor to blend all the ingredients until smooth.
2. If you want to keep the basic yellow spice in a longer period, you can stir fry the paste or add water and heat up until the water dissolves. Then, transfer them into small mason jars. Make sure to sterilize the jar before using it in boiling water for 15 minutes or in a 225ºF oven for 10 minutes.
The reason why I write galangal is optional because not all recipes need that ingredient. But I guarantee the foods that I mentioned above need galangal.