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Two Indonesian recipes from Spoons supper club founder, chef Rahel Stephanie.

Semur daging – spiced beef stew

Savor the cozy delight of semur daging, a Dutch-influenced Indonesian braised beef stew. Unbeknownst to many, the warming spice of nutmeg, originating from Indonesia, graces this dish. As temperatures drop, relish the aromatic embrace of nutmeg, enhancing the tenderness of beef, potatoes, and tomatoes, which meld seamlessly with the rich kecap manis, creating a dish that’s both comforting – a perfect embrace for chilly evenings.


3 tbsp neutral oil 
1kg diced lean beef 
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks 
2 large tomatoes, quartered 

Bumbu/spice paste: 
3 banana shallots 
3 garlic cloves 
4-inch fresh ginger 
2 red birds eye chillies, thinly sliced 
5-6 candlenuts or macadamia nuts, toasted 
1 tbsp ground coriander 
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp ground nutmeg 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1 stalk lemongrass, bruised 
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn 
5 cloves 

5 tbsp kecap manis 
1 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp granulated sugar 
Salt and black pepper, to taste 

Optional garnish: 
Handful of parsley or Chinese celery leaves 
Handful of crispy fried shallots 


In a blender, combine banana shallots, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, sliced red bird’s eye chilies, toasted candlenuts or macadamia nuts, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground nutmeg, and ground cinnamon. Blend into a smooth paste. 

Heat neutral oil over medium-high heat. Add the blended spice paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and cloves. Sauté for about five minutes or until fragrant. Add the diced beef and stir well to coat with the spice paste. Cook until the beef is browned. Add kecap manis, soy sauce, granulated sugar, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Pour in about one litre of water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the peeled and chunked potatoes and quartered tomatoes. Continue simmering for another 15 minutes or until the meat is tender. Give a gentle stir to mix everything. Adjust salt, sugar and pepper to taste. 

Garnish with parsley or Chinese celery leaves and/or crispy fried shallots. Serve with steaming hot rice. 

Gulai kol – charred cabbage in a creamy curry sauce

Elevate cabbage to gourmet status with gulai kol, a West Sumatran-inspired charred cabbage dish. In the chill of winter, relish the creamy coconut milk, tamarind tang, and aromatic spices infusing each wedge. Charred to perfection, the warming, thick and fragrant gulai sauce clings on to the cabbage for an indulgent winter treat.


1 pointed cabbage 
Neutral oil of choice 

For the sauce: 
300 ml mushroom stock (five shiitake mushrooms, steeped in boiling water for 15 mins)
800 ml coconut milk 
5-6 Indonesian bay leaves (optional) 
6 kaffir lime leaves 
4 pieces of asam kandis or kokum or 1.5 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
1 tsp salt 
1 tbsp granulated sugar 

For the spice paste: 
2 banana shallots (or 6 small Asian shallots), peeled 
5 cloves garlic, peeled 
4 candlenuts or macadamia nuts, toasted 
2 stalks lemongrass, bottom removed and dried-out layers peeled 
4-6 large red chilies (seeds and pith removed for less heat) 
1 inch galangal 
1 inch turmeric 
1/2 inch ginger 
1 tbsp ground coriander 
2 tbsp neutral oil of choice 


For the cabbage: Preheat your oven to 230 degrees celsius. Place a large sheet pan inside to heat up.

Slice the pointed cabbage into wedges and brush them with oil. Season generously with salt. Once the sheet pan is hot, carefully arrange the cabbage wedges in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes. Gently turn the wedges over and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the cabbage is softened and charred, creating an irresistible texture. 

For the gulai sauce: Blend all the spice paste ingredients together until smooth. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the spice paste, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. Sauté for about five to 10 minutes, until fragrant. 

Add the coconut milk, salt, and sugar. Stir well and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Add the asam kandis, kokum, or tamarind paste and mushroom broth. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue cooking until the sauce reaches a thick, saucy consistency, about 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. 

To Serve: Pour a generous helping of the gulai sauce onto a large plate and top with the charred cabbage. Optionally, sprinkle with crispy fried shallots for added texture. 

Note: The cooking time required to reach a saucy consistency may vary depending on the heat level and the pot used. Keep an eye on the sauce and stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Photography by Rahel Stephanie.

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