Balinese cuisine, yes please!sates done on banana, feture 3

My recent trip to Indonesia was an amazing gourmet journey starting in Bali.   It enticed my taste buds with spices, and a variety of basic spice pastes which were ground in a saucer shaped mortar and pestle.   Of course I had to buy one and carry it in my suitcase all the way back to Australia.

sate all ingredients in the mortar

This mortar is the king of the Indonesian kitchen, where all the ingredients and spices are blended together into a smooth paste.  All the oils and flavours are then released from the paste when it is fried or simmered.

The combinations of spices ground together are the secret to Indonesian cuisine.  They create unique aromas, tastes and colours.

I want to share this amazing recipe for Sate, they are so tasty and are a delight to make.  It is a combination of ground chicken and spices artfully spiralled around a bamboo stick or lemon grass stalk and then grilled.

These Sates  do have a great tradition behind them.  They are always made and BBQ’d by men, they are a phallic symbol as well as a symbol of weapons of war.  No questions asked, the pictures tell the story.

We must start by making the Base Genep or paste of spices for the Sates.

Ingredients for the Base Genep

  • 1 teaspoon whole black and white pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 medium onion or 5 shallots
  • 1-2 red large chilli (seeds removed)
  • 1-2 small red chilli
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-3 candlenuts
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric
  • 5 tablespoons Galangal
  • 1 teaspoon Tamarind paste
  • 3 teaspoons kencur
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger

Method for the Spice Paste

  • Start by grinding the whole seeds and nuts in the mortar.
  • Slice and cut very small the rest of the ingredients.

sate raw ingredients for paste


sate raw ingredients cut

  • Grind all the spices into a fairly fine paste making sure all the gingers are smooth.  Only the chilli should be recognizable.

sate paste uncooked

  • The Base Genep should be fragrant, deep golden-yellow with a thick paste like consistency.

Ingredients for the Chicken Sate

  • 300 grams minced chicken
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons of Base Genep
  • 5 Kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • wooden sticks or lemon grass stalks

Method for the Sates

  • Start by soaking the sticks in water for at least 1/2 hour.  This will prevent the sticks from burning on the BBQ.
  • Mix the grated coconut, Base Genep, palm sugar, fried onion, salt and kaffir lime leaves in a big bowl.  Use your hands to mix these ingredients, in Bali the mixing is done by hand so that the spices blend well and gives the meat a bit of glue.
  • Then add the chicken and knead all the ingredients.  The mixture should be fragrant, deep yellow and slightly sticky.  Add a few tablespoons of coconut milk and blend again with your hands.

sate raw ingredeintssate meat done

  • Take a tablespoon of this mixture and shape into balls and put them on large plate.

sate balls and one stick

  • Place each ball of the chicken meat on the end of the stick and spiral it firmly around the stick until it reaches halfway, resembling a drumstick.

sate making it with fingers

sate done in the stick

  • Grill on the BBQ on a medium heat until golden brown.  Keep turning them so they cook evenly.


  • To make this sate you must use your hands, they blend the flavours and make the chicken mince sticky so you can wrap it around the wooden sticks.
  • The Base Genep can be store in a small jar covered with a thin film of vegetable or coconut oil topped with the lid and put in the refrigerator for up to 3  weeks.

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