Making a good bumbu yourself: that’s how you do it!

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Boemboes are the basis, smell and taste of Indonesian cuisine . Because a bumbu is the spice mixture that actually starts every dish. You can buy it ready-made in the supermarket, but making your own is just as easy and five times as delicious.

A mini guide to the tastiest bumbus.

Mortar or chopper?

In many recipes for a bumbu you see a chopper or small blender in the mix as a quick fix . Very handy, but you won’t get the same result as with a mortar. You could even say that they are two completely different preparation techniques. With jacking you add an extra dimension to the ingredients: flavors and oils are released, you jack the cells, as it were. This makes a bumbu taste and smell even better.

So the answer is very clear: a mortar. But we do give you a shortcut , first chop the ingredients coarsely in a chopper and then continue in a mortar . That saves a lot of work.


basic bumbu

You can go in many directions with a bumbu, but let’s start with the basics. It is the same in almost all cases: garlic, onion and red peppers or sambal oelek. Do you like spicy or not? Vary the type of peppers you use: from rawit to Madame Jeanette. But even omitting the peppers is an option with a bumbu. Contrary to popular belief, Indonesian food is not only spicy, but often subtle.

Cut or chop the ingredients. Then grind them into a kind of coarse paste with a dash of vegetable oil and voilà: you have your basic bumbu. Are you going to cook with your basic bumbu? Then don’t forget the basic rule: first fry gently in a wok for a few minutes, then the flavors and smells are released completely.

The ingredients list

It can make you a bit dizzy when you see an ingredient list for a bumbu: then you immediately lose heart. But take a good look at what’s on it and it’s often not that bad. You already have a lot at home or you can use a variant.

As an example the galanga root and gula djawa. The first is the same as laos and you can also replace it with ginger. Gula djawa is palm sugar and you can also use cane sugar instead. Nowadays you no longer have to travel across town and country for specific ingredients, but you can get a lot from the average large gritter.

Mega tip: you can store a lot of seasonings that you use for bumbus in the freezer. Take 1 large ziplock bag and store all your bumbu goodies in it such as lemongrass, lime leaf, galangal, ginger and all kinds of peppers. You always have them at hand.

Yellow, red and green bumbus

Actually, every dish has its own bumbu with its own specific mixture of ingredients, but it is impossible to describe them all. We will introduce you to three delicious variants, with which you can take your first steps in boemboeland.

Actually, this tripartite division is not entirely Indonesian and you come across it more in Indian cuisine and its comparable curry pastes, but it is a handy guideline. Want to know more? Then the bible of Indonesian cuisine is a must have in your cookbook shelf.

yellow bumbu

A yellow bumbu is generally mild and slightly sweet. Seasonings are curry, ginger, lemon and lime, lemongrass, cumin, cinnamon – and maybe a little cane sugar, because every bumbu contains a little sweetness – and cardamom. Delicious with coconut, white fish and chicken.

red bumbu

This bumbu has much more spice, it is just not the case that it only consists of peppers. The basis of a red bumbu is often tomato together with red peppers, but you can also use chili powder. Supplement with paprika, coriander, ginger and lime – because every bumbu has a sweetness – and you can let go. Particularly tasty with tofu, beef, eggs or beans.

green bumbu

This is often the spiciest variant, perhaps also known from a Thai curry. The green element comes from spinach and fresh coriander, along with different types of peppers. Delicious with lime leaves, kemirin nuts or almonds, galangal, turmeric, cumin and a little vinegar – because we already said it: every bumbu also has a sweetness.

Note: peppers have the special property of getting hotter the moment you heat them. They don’t actually get hotter, but that’s what our brains get when eating them and then you get the familiar sweat lip – so keep that in mind when you start jacking! Selemat makan or enjoy your meal.

Source: Culy by
*The article has been translated based on the content of Culy by If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process it as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author.

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