Taste of Bali: Base Gede (Basic Spice Sauce)

Base Gede

Although assembling this sauce can be quite labor intensive (especially if you hand-grind the mixture in a lesung in the traditional fashion), Base Gede is the quintessential ingredient in most Balinese dishes. Mix it into minced chicken or beef for sate, incorporate into soups for an exotic boost, or stir into basic curries. Most ingredients can be sourced in your local Asian market. Adapted from the Paon Bali cook book, and featured in Top Three Cooking Experiences in Ubud.

  • 5 small shallots
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of lesser galangal
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of galangal (aromatic ginger)
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of turmeric
  • 2 small chilis (hot)
  • 3 large red chilies (mild)
  • 4 candlenuts or macadamia nuts
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, trimmed and crushed
  • 2 salam leaves or bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste (Indonesian shrimp paste, Terasi, if possible)
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  1. Clean and wash all ingredients. Slice and remove seeds from the hot and red chilis. Finely chop the shallots, garlic, lesser galangal, galangal, ginger, turmeric, candlenuts, red chilis and hot chilis.
  2. Blend the chopped ingredients, coriander seeds, nutmeg and cloves in a Balinese lesung, or in a conventional blender, until they form a fine paste.
  3. Sauté the paste in the coconut oil. Crush the lemongrass stalk then add salt, pepper, palm sugar, salam leaves and the lemongrass to the paste. Sauté for about seven minutes on low heat.

The sauce will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator, and up to 6 months in the freezer.

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