Bumbu Dasar Merah: Basic Red Spice Paste

Bumbu dasar merah, or basic red spice paste, is a blend of spices that can be pre-made in batches, kept, and then used in a variety of dishes such as nasi goreng and rendang.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Complex spice blends are a characteristic of Indonesian cuisine. Spice blends, commonly known as bumbu in the local language, are important to Indonesian cooking and give each dish its distinctive flavour and aroma. It’s also the unique spice blends that distinguish Indonesian cuisine from all other cuisines around the world. 

Although there are thousands of different types of spice blends, many Indonesian recipes share similar base ingredients. These base ingredients can be made into basic spice blends, known as bumbu dasar, which can be prepared in advance in order to simplify and shorten complicated cooking processes.

There are several common basic spice blends, prepared based on the ingredient and types of food they are used for. These spice blends get their name from their colors, which differ based on the ingredients used. 

Three important bumbu dasar often used in Indonesian cooking include:

  • Bumbu dasar putih (white spice blend)
  • Bumbu dasar merah (red spice blend)
  • Bumbu dasar kuning (yellow spice blend)

In addition, there are less common bumbu dasar (fewer dishes are prepared using these spice blends), including:

  • Bumbu dasar hijau (green spice blend)
  • Bumbu dasar hitam (black spice blend)
  • Bumbu dasar oranye (orange spice blend)

Each spice blend is used separately as a base in different cooking, according to the individual recipe. 

Bumbu dasar merah, or basic red spice blend, is made of red chillies, shallots, garlic, tomatoes and, optionally, shrimp paste. Red chilli is the main ingredient here (in Indonesia, curly red chillies are usually used), which gives the paste its characteristic bright red color and mild spicy flavour. During the cooking process, some people also put in some additional herbs such as kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass for extra flavour and aroma. 

This paste is used to prepare spicy dishes such as balado, sambal goreng, rendang, nasi goreng, and various stir fry dishes. As the spice blend only comprises some of the ingredients in a particular recipe, it’s often necessary to add additional ingredients such as fresh herbs, according to what the dish requires. 

Bumbu dasar merah keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks. To store it, after the cooking process, let the paste cool off completely before transferring it into a clean jar. Don’t forget to close the jar tightly and always use a clean and dry spoon when taking the spice, to prevent bacteria. 

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Bumbu Dasar Merah: Basic Red Spice Paste

Bumbu Dasar Merah: Basic Red Spice Paste

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Spice Pastes
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal

Description

Bumbu dasar merah, or basic red spice paste, is a blend of spices that can be pre-made in batches, kept, and then used in a variety of dishes such as nasi goreng and rendang.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 200 gr curly/big red chillies, chopped
  • 150 gr shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 50 gr garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 2 big red tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp roasted shrimp paste (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150 ml cooking oil

Instructions

  1. Blend into a fine paste: chillies, shallots, garlic and tomatoes.
  2. Put the blended spices in a wok, add the salt, sugar, shrimp paste and cooking oil.

    Add all the ingredients into a wok

  3. Bring the mixture to boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low.

    Bring the mixture to boil

  4. Continue cooking and stirring until the liquids are evaporated, and the mixture is well cooked (around 45 minutes).

    Continue cooking and stirring until the liquids are evaporated

  5. Cool the mixture completely and then transfer to a clean jar with an airtight lid.
  6. Store the jar in a refrigerator.

    Bumbu Dasar Merah is ready to be stored


Notes

  • To make it spicier, a few bird’s eye chillies can be added.

Keywords: Spicy, Common ingredients

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