Category Archives: RECIPES


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

Pasta Nera with Shrimps and Herbs

“Just stick to the list”, said my husband as I was walking through all the isles in the supermarket.
“What list?”, I replied.

Here in good old Luanda, you don’t have shopping lists, you buy what you can get. When eggs are extinct, you don’t bake, you make fruit dessert. When eggs are around, you buy gazillions of them so next time they’re gone, you can still bake. We already live “frugal” even before the whole world can spell the word. That’s why most companies equip us with freezers the size of two coffins.

Yesterday, I found packed Pasta Nera (simply put, black spaghetti) and I bought five packets. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know by now that we’re not Italians and we’re moving (for good) in a month, but I just can’t get rid of this frugality within me.  So we had Pasta Nera with Shrimps and Herbs.

How To:

  • Boil pasta till al dente
  • Prepare sauce by sautéing (in olive oil) garlic, chopped onion, and peeled-deveined shrimps. Add anise seed, basil, chopped parsley, salt and chili (if liked).
  • Mix the pasta with the sauce
  • Enjoy

Picture was processed with lomo-ish look.

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“Satay” is highly associated with Asian food. What most people don’t know is, there are many kinds of satay. In Indonesia alone, to mention a few, there is Satay Padang (a name of a city in West Sumatra), which is a beef satay with curry sauce. There is Mutton Satay that’s normally served with sweet soy sauce. There is Satay Bali, that’s normally made with fish or shrimp and lots of herbs (using lemon grass instead of wooden skewers) served with no sauce. Then there is the simple Chicken Satay, that comes in hundreds of variations.

Here, to be specific, I am going to share the recipe (that I learned from a good friend of mine) of Chicken Satay for the unprivileged cooks. The kind of cooks that may have limited resource, yet still wants to have a bit of Asian flare once every blue moon.


  • 15 wooden skewers (soaked in water)
  • 3 chicken breast
  • 6 tbs of sweet soy sauce
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red chili
  • 3 tbs corn starch (maizena)
  • 1 tbs cooking oil

How To

  • Cut chicken breast in bite size cubes
  • Marinate with crushed garlic, 3 tbs of sweet soy sauce & sliced chili. Leave it for minimum 30 minutes.
  • Skew the chicken and arrange the skewers on a tray
  • Sprinkle corn starch (maizena) all over the satay, turn them and do the other side. This is to retain the juice, so you’ll have moist Chicken Satay.
  • Put your stove on high heat.
  • Prepare your grill/pan, coat with cooking oil. Wait until sizzling hot.
  • Put the skewers and close the lid of your pan/grill.
  • After 3 minutes, turn the skewers and cook the other side for another 3 minutes.
  • Serve with soy sweet sauce

You can make a fancier sauce using peanut butter (mix peanut butter, garlic, chili, sweet soy sauce saute for 5 minutes)

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