We’re moving out in a month and yet I can not help myself from buying (newly found) garlic salt. If most ladies collect bags, I collect cooking ingredients, spices and herbs (and coffee, and coffee dripper, and baking tins, but not bags). I brought a jar of preserved lemon from Morocco, spices from middle east and kaffir lime leaves from Asia.

Only 4 years ago, I could not even tell the difference between coriander and pepper, galangal and ginger, parsley and coriander leaves. Yet now, I think I’ll score at least 75% accuracy test in food ingredient taste. That’s what I call a steep learning curve.

I was forced to cook not only because of our specific diet but also because my only daughter can not stand Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). It’s amazing how our diet is filled with this chemical. It’s in stock cubes, instant food mix, chips, frying batter, it’s everywhere. MSG will not add flavor to your food but it enhances your sense that to you the food tastes better. And the only way to have a close result to a MSG-added food is to be brave with your spices.

One of my daughter’s favorite food is Gulai Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry), and it’s truly a rich and full of spice dish.


  • 1 chicken cut into 10-12 pieces
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • cooking oil
  • 500 mL coconut cream
  • 500 mL water
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 turmeric leave (optional)
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 lemon-grass root (mashed)
  • 1 thumb of galangal (mashed)
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 chili (de-seeded) coarsely sliced

Blend together (in food processor)

  • 6 shallots
  • 3 garlics
  • 8 chili
  • one thumb of ginger
  • 2 cm of turmeric
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp anise seed
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • salt


  • Mix chicken with lime juice, leave for 15 minutes
  • Saute blended ingredients with cooking oil, add in lime leaves, turmeric leave (optional), tamarind paste, cinnamon, lemon-grass root, galangal, cloves, cardamom, ground nutmeg
  • Add in chicken until covered with spices
  • Add in coconut oil and water, let cook until gravy reduced, oily and thick (make sure heat is low and stir every 5 mins to avoid coconut from breaking)
  • Add in sliced chili
  • Serve with warm plain rice


  1. tomgowans says:

    Is it coconut oil or coconut milk (or cream)? Looking at that delicious photo, I’d say it was coconut milk or cream. Anyway, that’s what I will use when I make this dish!

    • Wina says:

      I am sorry for the typo, it’s coconut cream. Let me know how it goes…

      • tomgowans says:

        It went well, we are eating it now! And it really is delicious. Little Alex, who is only three, is using one of the chicken bones to dip in the sauce and is making loud, slurping noises as he sucks it all off.

        All in all, a lovely way to sit in front of the TV and watch the Olympics!

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