Padang-style cuisine originated in West Sumatra from the Minangkabau community. It is a distinct cuisine that encompasses a wide variety of dishes, flavours and styles. The traditional Padang-style dinner is eaten in a style referred to as "hidang". This style involves a large number of unordered dishes arriving at your table, upwards of 20, the diners eat just what they want and like and the rest are taken back and served again. Think of this as Indonesian tapas. This of course goes against any modern health ethic, but you get to feast on dishes, curries, stir-fries, and steamed dishes, that you may not be aware of. The joy is in trying the vast flavours and styles and, of course, new dishes all the time.
This dish belongs to that class of food, elegant, flavorful and wonderful, but in a large size. The sauce is delicate and creamy from the coconut milk. The subtle aromas of fresh turmeric and lemongrass are balanced by the pop of Thai chillies. This is one of those dishes that I would take seconds of from the Padang table.
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For the bumbu spice paste:
10 shallots, halved
6-7 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon fresh turmeric, or 1/2 teaspoon powder
3-4 red Thai chillies
2-3 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 1-inch lemongrass
1/2 tablespoon tamarind extract
Salt, to taste
6-8 hard-boiled or 6-minute eggs
First, make the bumbu spice paste by adding all the ingredients, except the oil, to a small blender and puréeing to a smooth paste. Add just enough water to get the paste to spin in the blender, it should be very thick but smooth.
Heat the oil in a small pan and add the paste. Fry on low heat for about 10 minutes till the paste smells aromatic and the ginger is cooked. the oils should float to the surface.
Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, tamarind and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes till the coconut gravy has thickened. Taste and adjust salt and chilli. To add more chillies, slit Thai chillies in half, add them to the sauce, and simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
Serve hot with the eggs rolled in the curry. If you want you can halve the eggs longitudinally to serve. I like to serve the hard-boiled eggs halved, and the 6-minute eggs whole.
NOTE: Please remind your guests to look out for the halved Thai chillies so that there are no unpleasant surprises on the table.
To make 6-minute eggs.: Heat the water in a bot till boiling. Add the eggs and time for 6 minutes. Remove and immerse them in cold water to stop them from cooking further. The eggs will feel mushy.