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A sampler of Sasak cuisine

Third Moon Café, Kuta Lombok

From the comfort of my seat I watched as our waitress carried a clear plastic bag of chillies into the kitchen, presumably to be chopped up and used in the sauce for our homemade ayam taliwang. As we came down from our three-day trek on Mount Rinjani, during which we were fed vast quantities of banana pancakes, spaghetti, and even a burger with fries, Bama was excited about the prospect of returning to the rich flavours of Indonesian fare. “I’ve been craving something spicy!”

Arriving in Kuta, we were thrilled to learn that Third Moon Café – the restaurant attached to our small hotel – served a good selection of local dishes. Washed down with tall glasses of blended pineapple, mango and papaya, we would try out every single one over the next four days.

Ayam taliwang, a sweet and spicy grilled chicken slathered in an addictive blend of coconut, chilli, garlic and shrimp paste, was the perfect introduction to Lombok’s Sasak cuisine. It instantly became one of my favourite Indonesian dishes, so much so that I would sometimes enjoy it twice a day. Pelecing kangkung looked deceptively tame, a veritable mound of water spinach, beansprouts and grated coconut served with raw tomato and chilli sambal – packing a secret punch that seemed to explode off the tongue.

We could not resist the pepes seafood, a delightful jumble of fish, shrimp and squid, wrapped in banana leaf and held in position by several strategically-placed toothpicks; or the skewers of sate pusut ayam dipped in a rich peanut sauce. Ikan bakar pelecing, grilled fish cooked in sambal, proved much milder than I had anticipated, while urap-urap was a pleasure with its heaps of freshly shredded coconut, infused with an aromatic blend of spices. One of the many joys of Indonesia is its culinary diversity, and Lombok clearly did not disappoint.

Pepes seafood - steamed and grilled in banana leaf

Pepes seafood – steamed and grilled in banana leaf

Sate pusut ayam - minced chicken skewers

Sate pusut ayam – minced chicken skewers with peanut sauce

Urap-urap - steamed vegetables with spiced, grated coconut

Urap-urap – steamed vegetables with spiced, grated coconut

Ikan bakar pelecing - grilled fish in sambal

Ikan bakar pelecing – seasoned, grilled fish in sambal

Pelecing kangkung - water spinach, beansprouts and grated coconut in tomato & chilli sambal

Pelecing kangkung – water spinach, beansprouts and grated coconut in tomato & chilli sambal

Ayam bakar taliwang - grilled chicken in a sauce of garlic, chilli, coconut and shrimp paste

Ayam bakar taliwang – grilled chicken in a sauce of garlic, chilli, coconut and shrimp paste

40 Comments Post a comment
  1. Looks absolutely delicious! We want some!

    August 6, 2013
    • It was fabulous – I loved all the flavours and spices in each one!

      August 6, 2013
  2. Tasty! This post has me salivating!

    August 6, 2013
    • I couldn’t come back from Indonesia without including a post on the food. 😉

      August 6, 2013
  3. Hmmmm…how I do love to read your food posts. Thanks for making me hungry again — that ayam taliwang looks particularly enticing!

    August 6, 2013
    • You’re welcome Andrew, I’m sure you would love the ayam taliwang (and just about everything else)! Personally I thought it was even better than rendang. 🙂

      August 6, 2013
  4. I’m glad you added one more dish to your favorite Indonesian dishes. I still remember how desperate I was in asking them to add more chili to my ayam taliwang. On day 1 it was not spicy at all, then on day 2 it got better, but on day 3 they really made it pedas banget!

    August 6, 2013
    • The ayam taliwang was just sweet the first day – but still delicious all the same. On the last day it was really too hot to handle, I think it more or less reached the end of my spice tolerance! Looking back now I’m pretty sure the cook used up the entire bag of chilli that time…

      August 6, 2013
  5. You gotta have stomach made of steel to try Ayam Bakar Taliwang & Plecing Kangkung :))))

    August 6, 2013
    • The pelecing kangkung was spicy, for sure. 🙂
      But it couldn’t beat the ayam bakar taliwang I had on my last day there – that one set my mouth on fire!

      August 6, 2013
  6. Hey James. These photos make me hungry and miss Bali. When we visited, we took a cooking class which also included a trip to the market to shop. The meal we prepared was wonderful, and I haven’t had a sambal even close to the one we made since. Nice eye-candy post. ~James

    August 6, 2013
    • Thank you James – I’m craving some good, honest Indonesian food right now, just 10 days after coming home from the trip. Haven’t been to Bali yet, although I do hope to change that quite soon!

      August 6, 2013
  7. Looks good!! Can’t wait to try some for myself.

    August 6, 2013
    • All of it was delicious. 🙂

      August 6, 2013
  8. Damn. I shouldn’t have read this after brushing my teeth for bed ><

    August 6, 2013
    • I hope it didn’t make you too hungry!

      August 7, 2013
  9. kristensehn #

    Wow, that is awesome! Sounds like a great experience with great food 🙂

    August 7, 2013
    • The food is one of the highlights of Indonesia, especially if you have a soft spot for spice!

      August 7, 2013
  10. omg i missed my country ahahaa

    August 7, 2013
    • I miss all of these dishes – sadly there is no ayam taliwang where I’m from!

      August 7, 2013
  11. Ayam bakar taliwang, sate, dan plecing kangkung

    August 7, 2013
    • Nendang banget!

      August 7, 2013
      • hahahahaha,
        you know that line. cool. Sangat Indonesia!!!!
        nice though

        August 10, 2013
  12. I might have to find one Indonesian restaurant in my neck of the woods and see if Ayam Taliwang is on the menu. Or anything perhaps that vaguely resembles Sasak cuisine.

    August 8, 2013
    • Ayam taliwang must be pretty hard to find outside Indonesia – it’s not nearly as famous as rendang, sate or nasi goreng.

      August 8, 2013
  13. Reblogged this on Holiday Rent Club.

    August 9, 2013
  14. Ah every single dish you have showcased looks wonderful James! Was the rice as fragrant and delicious as in Laos?

    August 10, 2013
    • They were all delicious, Madhu! The rice was lovely but my favourite part was almost always the sauce – especially if grated coconut and shrimp paste were involved. That was a perfect combination with the tender meat and crispy skin of ayam taliwang!

      August 10, 2013
  15. Hat dies auf lifeissweetshit rebloggt und kommentierte:
    Yummieeeeeeee, I’m hungry!

    August 22, 2013
  16. You really made me hungry – great review and delicious pictures! (: Instantly reblogged it on my page (:

    August 22, 2013
    • Dankeschön for the reblog, I appreciate it! 🙂

      August 22, 2013
  17. Yum, yum, yum! I’m going back to Indonesia in December and can’t wait to eat Indonesian food again 🙂

    September 7, 2013
    • I’m planning to do the same over Christmas – definitely miss all the spices! 🙂

      September 7, 2013
  18. Wow they look GOOD! beautiful pictures, if it is alright I am going to pin them on pinterest. 😀

    September 9, 2013
    • Makasih! Feel free to pin them as long as you link back or credit the blog. 🙂

      September 11, 2013
  19. just wanna ask anong gamit mong Camera, thanks thanks,, ganda 🙂

    January 27, 2014
    • Hi there, I use a Nikon D5100 but those photos were only possible because of the great natural lighting. 🙂

      January 27, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. A sampler of Sasak cuisine | Siem Reap Life
  2. Indonesia: a culinary journey | Plus Ultra
  3. Eating Indonesia: not just ‘nasi goreng’ | Plus Ultra

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