GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.
Freshly harvested ingredients – ready for the spice paste


Flowering galangal  Alpinia galanga

One of the fantastic things about living in the sub-tropics is being able to grow your own spice garden – ginger, chillies, kaffir lime, lemon grass, betel leaf, curry leaf, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint, bay leaves, galangal, macadamia, pandan, lime, lemon – and they also make terrific  landscaping plants!

This is a recipe that I picked up in one of the cooking classes that I took in Bali, many years ago, and it has been a staple in my freezer ever since – usually at this time of year when the galangal is ready for harvesting.  You use the root rhizome – it looks a lot like ginger.  The aromatic leaves can also be used to wrap food before cooking on the barbecue.

NOTE August 2017.  I originally wrote this post in 2012 – and there I was again last night, cooking up prawns with some of this yummy paste that I had in the freezer – not the same batch from 2012!


100ml peanut oil

1 medium onion diced
100gm grated, or finely chopped,  fresh galangal 
6 garlic gloves, crushed
100gm grated fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
3 large red chillies
5 kaffir limes leaves
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
500gm tomatoes
125gm palm sugar
100ml fish sauce
200ml water
salt to taste

ALMOST FORGOT!!  100gm fresh turmeric, grated!!

1.  Heat oil and cooked the chopped and blended mixture of onions, garlic, galangal, turmeric, chillies, kaffir lime leaves and coriander until the aroma rises and it changes to a more golden colour.  This will take about five minutes.
2.  Add palm sugar, fish sauce, tomatoes and water and simmer for about 30 mins until oil comes to surface.  Stick blend, if necessary – if it is not lump free!. Done!
Now what could be easier than that  – with most of the fresh ingredients coming from the garden?!!

The finished galangal paste
Betel leaf prawns with galangal paste


1.  One tablespoon mixed with pumpkin/sweet potato/cauliflower with some coconut cream added for an instant curry VEGETARIAN CURRY.  Made even more delicious with a handful of toasted cashew nuts and some chopped fresh coriander.

2.  One of my favourites though is with fresh prawns or a nice piece of fresh, fleshy white fish.  For this I just flash fry the fish/prawns with extra garlic, fresh chilli and add the galangal paste with a small can of coconut cream.  A little extra salt and a few fresh kaffir lime leaves and it’s done in about 10 minutes.

3.  Also great with a tablespoon added to stir fried green beans and some toasted macadamias/almond flakes.

4.  Betel leaf grows easily around here and a spoonful of galangal paste added to some stir-fried prawns and topped with chopped peanuts, coriander, chilli and lime juice make a great appetizer.

5.  Last night I made a green papaya salad from the garden, made even more delicious with a side dish some stir fried prawns with a spoonful of galangal paste added (that I keep in the freezer) and some coconut milk. (July 19th 2017)

GALANGAL PASTE   The root of the galangal plant is used for recipes like this – the pink rhizome in the photo below.  It’s a bit of a mission to dig it up, so when I do I make sure I dry some for later by simply slicing it up and drying it out on a tray in the sun, then storing it in an airtight container in the pantry. (Slicing!! – special blade on the food processor folks or the trusty mandolin – the one with the blade not strings – you’d never do it with a knife)

And, just because we can, just a little walk in the rice fields around Ubud with the mountains of Batur and Agung in the distance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this any more.

The spice mix – after you have blended it up and before adding the tomatoes, palm sugar, fish sauce and water.


Balinese Chicken Curry

Urab – Indonesian Fresh Bean Salad

(Visited 360 times, 1 visits today)