Cooking class in Yogya

Cooking class in Yogya

My culinary trip the day before was just perfect, except I ate too much, but I was really excited about the course. I wanted to cook something local, that I can also cook at home. My cooking mates, Kathleen and Koen, a belgian couple arrived with the same vision. We were a little lost when checking the cookbook, all recipes looked appealing. Our teacher and cook Made rescued us with her suggestions, so we selected a vegetarian and a chicken dish. We didn’t know, that we also will learn to prepare many side dishes as well within couple hours.

To start we walked to the nearby market together to buy the fresh ingredients. The market is a bliss. No walls, but a roof gives shelter, and is full of vegetables and fruits I didn’t know about, as I’m a rookie in the world of asian cuisine. Market Yogya

Lime and ginger in Yogya

Fish in Yogya

Dried fish in YogyaMaybe those of you who often visit asian markets or love to cook oriental dishes couldn’t be charmed so easily, but I really loved it. Made was picking fruits, vegetables, soy products and we were busy with taking pictures and got lost continuously. Chili on the mrketAnd got worried because of the ever growing amount of chili in our basket.

The course started right away with a tea break – I’m pretty good at it –  eating some of the sticky rice snacks, that I got to know at the snack corner yesterday.

We prepared the vegetarian main dish first. Pepes Tahu Jamur is a light, tofu-mushroom dish, rolled into banana leaves, steamed and grilled. The soul of this dish is the seasoning. We didn’t use any masala (pre mixed spices), but prepared everything freshly. We mashed and mixed the spices (shallots, garlic, macadamia nut, ginger, curcuma, chili, salt, pepper) in a lava stone bowl. Spices YogyaWe asked for a less spicy version, so we only put 2 big chilis in the mix. If following her heart, Made wouldn’t stop until 5-6 big chilis and 3-4 small ones to chop into the mix. While my muscles on my arm became stiff grinding the mix, the others mashed the tofu and cut the mushrooms. Once mixing all together, we added the two raw eggs. We spared the half of this mix, and the other half was rolled into banana leafs, creating neat little packages. Pepes tahu jamurWe put these in a steamer for 20-25 minutes. Once ready, we put them in a pan to grill them, until the banana leaves got brown, or little burnt to add a little extra flavor.

Working together as a team was really smooth. Either Made was really good in coordinating our work or we simply found each other’s rhythm. Either way, it was just great to be in the kitchen.

Soon we also started our chicken dish, Gulai Ayam, that is a standard Indonesian chicken curry, nicely balancing the flavors. Of course we started with the spices again, which were more or less the same, adding some additional flavours, like coriander, cumin, nutmeg and some more. Lava stoneFirst we put them in the hot wok and than to the lavastone to mash and grind them carefully. This time let Koen do the hard work, while I chopped the chicken. Gulai ayam in the worksThe grounded spices together with the herbs went back to the wok together with the chicken to cook it. Only after half ready did we add the coconut milk, to cook it together until it is done.

We prepared rice as a basic side dish, with coconut milk and curcuma, having it as the only non-spicy food on the table. Otherwise you cook it in the same way as at home.

From the spared half of the pepes tahu jamur we prepared crockets. We added bean sprouts, corn, carrot, flour, water and one extra egg, put some more spices to balance the new ingredients and fried it in vegetable oil in a wok, forming little balls. At this point everybody tried every step, so we can do it at home as well.

The next side dish was baked tempeh, the so called kering tempeh. TempehWe cut the tempeh (or tempe is fermented soy, and you can buy it basically everywhere in town, in the supermarket and in the market as well) in small pieces and prepared the caramel sauce to add: palm sugar, some water, chili for coloring (this I simply don’t get, as it feels hot just looking at it) and sweet soy sauce. Caramel for tempehOnce this mix is caramelized, we added the tempeh and some peanuts, and here you are, ready with this sweet and spicy, crunchy dish.

Krupuk was the next item on our menu, and preparing them is really fun. Krupuk (shrimp cracker) is originally made of rice flour, starch and prawn favoring, but it works from fruits and vegetables as well. You put the sundried krupuk in the very hot oil in a wok, and you watch it growing into puffy crackers. KrupukIt is a standard side dish in Indonesia such as sambal, that is made of – guess what! – chili. So we used the lava stone again, mashed two big and 2 small chilis, garlic, shallots, lime leaf, shrimp paste, oil, salt and pepper, and together with the tomato we put it in the wok and cooked on medium fire until we felt the need to sneeze. Ingredients for gulai ayam

Sambal YogyaWe put the mix in two separate little pot, added sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) to one of them to create sambal kecap, while kept the other as it is, to have sambal ulek. We can dip (if we dare) the krupuk in the sambal.

Around noon all was done, so after taking many pictures of the proud chefs, we started our delicious lunch. Cooking class YogyaIt was soooo tasty. All four of us ate huge portions, but still we had a lot of leftovers. As Kathleen and Koen left town the next day, they just brought some crackers with themselves, all the rest was packed for me. It is funny, though not at all environment friendly, that all the liquid takeaway here is but in plastic bags (instead of cups or bowls, even ice tea or ronde), so I got a plastic bag full of gulai ayam and a box of side dishes. It was more than enough for dinner and also for lunch for the next day.

I was totally full and really satisfied, when I returned to the hostel. I was lying on the sofa again unable to move for a while. A scene of yesterday just got repeated. Did I mention that I like Indonesian food?


For those, who’d like to try to cook these at home (really simple, just do the spice-mix right), I recommend the following recipes.

Pepes Tahu Jamur


  • 300 g tofu
  • 100 g mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • banana leaves or aluminium foil


  • 5 shallots (small ones, like a bigger garlic cloves)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 5 macadamia nuts
  • 1 cm ginger
  • 1 cm curcuma
  • 2 big (10 cms) chili
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper



  • the half of the pepes tahu jamur mixture
  • bean sprouts
  • ½ portion corn
  • 1 carrot cut in julienne style
  • 1 egg
  • wheat flour
  • 1 cup water


  • 200 g tempeh
  • 50 g peanut
  • fried shallots and garlic to put on top

Caramel sauce for the tempeh

  • kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 big chili without the seeds
  • palm sugar
  • water

Sambal ulek / Sambal kecap

  • 2 small chili
  • 2 big chili
  • garlic
  • shallot
  • ¼ tomato
  • lime leaf
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) only for the sweet sambal

Gulai Ayam


  • 500 g chicken
  • 1 l coconut milk (if only coconut cream is available, add 1 l water to 2 dl of coconut cream)
  • 3 sp vegetable oil


  • 5 shallots
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 5 macadamia nuts
  • 2 big chili
  • 1 sp coriander
  • 1 cm ginger
  • 1 cm curcuma
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ cm nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cardamom
  • 1 sp cloves
  • 1 tsp palm sugar


  • 1 lemon grass
  • 2 lime leaf
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 2 cinnamon
  • 1 star anise