Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
13 May 2013 - 2:38 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM


Also known as water spinach and loved throughout Asia for its fine crunchy hollow stem and long green leaves. It’s best stir-fried quickly


Generally made from wheat, rice, potato or cassava flour. Krupuk are thin, dried crackers similar to Chinese prawn crackers, which are deep fried before serving as a side dish. Available in many different flavours, the best quality are said to come from East Java. Indonesians love to dip the light fried crackers into sweet thick kecap manis as a snack.

Kecap manis

A dark sweet soy sauce that is made from soya beans and palm sugar and is much sweeter and thicker than its Chinese or Japanese counterparts. ‘Manis’ means sweet in Indonesian.

Kecap asin

A salty dark soy sauce that is a little thicker than the Chinese soy sauce.

Trasi shrimp paste

Trasi shrimp paste is made from fermented, dried shrimp, dried and cut into blocks. Trasi or belacan is a key ingredient in many types of sambal. Roasted by wrapping a small block in foil and place in the oven or toasted over a flame, trasi is crumbled into dishes to add a deep flavour.


Candelnuts (kemiri) look like macadamia nuts and have a high oil content and a creamy texture. Inedible in their raw state, they are a common addition to curry pastes and sauces.


A thin, nutty cake made from fermented soy beans, tempeh is a highly nutritious and versatile ingredient. Its firm texture allows it to be cooked in many different ways - marinated, deep-fried, boiled, or steamed.


Petai, or "smelly beans" as they are affectionately known, are seeds from a tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Bright green in colour, they are slightly bitter in flavour and used in stir-fries, curries and sambals.


A chili-based condiment that is typically made with a variety of chili peppers, sambals are popular throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka. There are many different types of Indonesian sambals that blend spices, fruits, nuts or vegetables with chilis.


An acidic fruit whose pulp is used for its sourness to balance the salty, the sweet and the hot. It's used in everything from salads to sauces and is the key flavour note in assam fish. It can be used in liquid form, in block form, that has been soaked in warm water and the seeds removed.

Palm sugar

Palm sugar is made from the sap of the palm tree which is boiled down and concentrated into moist sugar which can range from dense bark brown to a light honey coloured shade. Its best grated for easy use.