Indonesian Cooking: In the Kitchen with Astri

From Left: Kare Tofu, Bok Choy, Tempe (Balinese rice in the middle)

Most ingredients come straight from the permaculture garden, when I regularly make rounds collecting basil, tomatoes, red chili peppers, lettuces and bok choy.

Margret places a high value on sustainable food practices and organically grown produce. So what we grow and eat is all organically produced. Astri, our very talented Balinese cook, works her magical skills on lots of tofu and tempe. We eat mostly traditional Balinese dishes here, below are a few samples of Astri’s amazing recipes. (Forgive me if some of the directions are a bit imprecise, I had to watch her like a hawk or she went about her business & added some ingredient behind my back…)

Making Sambal
Ingredients for one batch:
–    5 to 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
–    5 to 6 little red onions, minced
–    Spicy: 3 red chilies, Mild: 1 red chili
–    7 medium-sized tomatoes
–    ½ block Maggi (chicken stock)
–    1 teaspoon salt
–    1 tablespoon of sugar


Samabal ingredients in the wok

Peel and chop garlic, red onion, tomatoes and chilies. Combine in medium mixing bowl.

Heat skillet with around 3 tablespoons of oil. Add ingredients and allow to simmer. Stir occasionally, reducing the tomatoes down. Add the teaspoon of salt, continue to reduce until tomatoes are soft and juicy. Remove from heat, add Maggi and sugar. Put ingredients into blender, run until smooth.

Most of the time at Jiwa Damai, we eat sambal with tempe and rice. It makes a delicious addition, however, to cooked vegetables or eggs. I love sambal so much I put it on my boiled egg in the morning with a little bok choy.

Note: There are many variations of sambal in Indonesia, used both as a sauce, a dip and a regular table condiment. Variations include those with Kaffir lime, peanuts, or shrimp paste.

Other dishes we enjoy at Jiwa Damai are Kare Tofu.

Astri’s Recipe:
–    2 pieces of lemongrass, pounded with mortar & pestle
–    1 package firm tofu
–    Approx. 4 leaves Daun Salam, an Indonesian Bay-Leaf. If you cannot attain Daun Salam you can substitute with ordinary bay-leaves, though the taste will be different.
–    4 pieces of Kemirie Nuts. This Indonesian nut looks like a large hazelnut. Astri uses it to thicken and flavor the Kare Tofu sauce. You can substitute with Macadamia or Brazil nuts.
–    2 red onion
–    4 cloves garlic
–    1 small piece fresh turmeric (peeled & ground)
–    A pinch of Ketumbar, or coriander spice.
–    1 teaspoon sugar
–    ½ Maggi block (chicken stock)
–    1 package of Santan Kelapa (65 ml) or Coconut milk, specifically the extract from the grated coconut flesh.
–    1 cup water

First, make the sauce. Add the Kemirie, chopped garlic, minced red onion, turmeric, Ketumbar and sugar together in blender (a bullet is useful here).
Cut tofu into triangles. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in the wok enough to coat the pan and partially cover tofu. Once hot, add tofu. Give the lemongrass a couple of pounds with mortar and pestle and then add the entire stalk into the skillet. Add Daun Salam. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add sauce and stir. Next, add water. The mixture should look almost soupy. Add Maggi. Bring the tofu and sauce to a boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat, allow to continue cooking and reducing for 2 or 3 minutes. Take off heat and add Santan Kelapa. Stir and let stand. Give sauce adequate time to cool and thicken around the tofu.

Serve warm, with rice.

Another Balinese staple and favorite is Fried Tempe.
–    1 block of Tempe
–    Add a dash of Merica Bubuk
–    1 block Maggi (Chicken stock)
–    1 teaspoon salt
–    ½ cup water

First tempe into flat squares. Combine with Merica Bubuk, Maggi, and salt. Add ½ cup water and allow to soak 20 minutes. Drain, heat oil in wok and fry tempe. We enjoy tempe with rice and sambal.

Fresh Greens

Other variations include cutting the tempe into thin rectangles and combining with peanuts and red peppers. This makes a great addition to stir fried bok choy, or added to a salad like croutons.

We are lucky enough to enjoy salad from our garden on a daily basis. We currently grow two different types of lettuce, arugula, basil, cucumber, tomato, and carrot. All combine for a fantastic mixed greens salad. Astri makes a wonderful salad dressing to go with our fresh greens:




Astri’s Salad Dressing:
This dressing recipe is simple, quick, and easy to make at home.

Phillip, resident Surfer and Manager at Jiwa Damai, loves salad!

–    Juice from 4 to 5 Kaffir limes
–    1 cup vegetable oil
–    ½ teaspoon pepper
–    ½ teaspoon salt
–    2 teaspoons mustard
–    4 tablespoons honey
–    A small piece of ginger (to taste)

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth and well blended. This light and flavorful dressing does not overstep its bounds and mask the many tastes of vegetables. It lends itself softly and combines nicely with any salad. Enjoy!



  1. […] Indonesian Cooking: In the Kitchen with Astri « Today I'm 20-Something Add sauce and stir Next, add water. The mixture should look almost soupy. Add Maggi. Bring the tofu and sauce to a boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat, allow to continue cooking and reducing for 2 or 3 minutes. […]

  2. Brittany,
    When you get back we should talk about how you can share your culinary treasures with the Savory Spoon Cooking School in Ellison Bay.
    Please give me a call when you return.

    Safe Travels.


  3. Hey Brittany,

    This would be great to publish on the Jiwa Damai Blog as well.
    Can we do that?

    Greeting from berlin,

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