When I got the idea for the title of this post ‘A Kick in the Mouth’ I was not aware at all that that it was the title of the eight single by Surrey-based-rock-band Reuben released in June 2005.
As a researcher, I have the habit of conducting ‘little research’ on whatever topic comes to my mind. When I googled ‘A kick in the mouth’, I found out about Reuben. But this post has nothing to do with Reuben whatsoever.
I am still very much consistent with the theme of my blog on cooking, recipes and foods. The title of this post is simply refecting the dish I am writing about.
Through this post I would like to invite all my readers whereever you are to ‘visit my dangerously beautiful country’ Indonesia and try one of the dangerously delicious dishes’.
When you travel around the Indonesian archipelago which consist of more than 17,000 islands, each island, or in some cases towns, have their own special dish that sets them aside from the others.
One of the many interesting islands in Indonesia is Lombok island. Proximity to Bali is Lombok’s blessing, and its curse. While only 25 miles separate the two islands, they are in fact worlds apart.
Indeed, overzealous tourism officials notwithstanding, Lombok is not “an unspoiled Bali,” or “Bali’s sister island.” Lombok is not Bali at all, and that is precisely its charm. Lombok means “chili,” and the cuisine definitely had a kick.
Lombok’s people are 85% Sasak, culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike Bali’s Hindu they are Muslims. A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu (“Three Prayers”), who as the name suggests pray only three times daily, instead of the five times required in the Quran.
The most-developed center of tourism is Senggigi spread in a 30-kilometer strip along the coastal road north of Mataram, while backpackers congregate in the Gili islands off the west coast.
Other popular tourist destinations include Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali) where surfing is considered some of the best in the world by leading surfing magazines. The Kuta area is also famous for its beautiful, untouched beaches.
A tour to Lombok, will not be complete without tasting the local Taliwang Chicken or Ayam Taliwang — to explore the mystery of its flavor. This typical Lombok dish is a favorite among both locals and visitors to the island. In Mataram, the provincial capital, it can be found at various eateries from sidewalk food stalls to restaurants in star-rated hotels.
At first glance, Taliwang Chicken looks almost like the common grilled or fried chicken, simply covered with a spicy relish. Only after tasting it can we discern the difference.
The meat is well done and very soft in texture. Both hot and spicy, it has the aroma of terasi (shrimp paste), which prompts us to savor every mouthful. It tastes hot and deeply piquant – it really gives you ‘A Kick in the Mouth’
The name Taliwang Chicken is derived from Karang Taliwang, a subdistrict in Mataram where the recipe for this regional specialty has its roots. The late H. Abdul Hamid is recognized for creating the Ayam Taliwang recipe in 1970. The ingredients for this chicken are only chili, garlic and terasi, but the method of preparation and the proportions of these condiments are different.
As to the mystery of Taliwang Chicken’s delectable flavor, this concerned the choice of meat as well as the cooking process. One restaurant only uses three-month-old free-range chickens, because the meat becomes tough if the chicken is older and “breaks” if it is younger. After the fowl is cleaned and grilled until it is half done, the meat is tenderized with a pestle and dipped into hot cooking oil for several seconds. It is immersed into the spicy sauce before it is grilled or fried until well done.
Ayam Taliwang carries the unique flavor of Lombok, so people from other regions come here to try Lombok’s specialty. They will also get an impression of the place.
Taliwang Chicken is even more appetizing when accompanied with local side dishes such as plecing kangkung (water spinach with tomato-chili relish, bean sprout, shreded coconut and fried peanut). Priced at Rp 15,000-25,000 (around US $ 1.5 -2.5) for a full portion. Ayam Taliwang can be found in nearly all eateries in Mataram.
This is the recipe of Ayam Taliwang I found from one of tourism websites:
- 1 whole chicken, butterflied and flattened
- 100 ml vegetables oil
- 1 lime, squeeze to get the juice
Finely pestle the following ingredients into a spice-paste:
- 14 dried red chilli
- 12 shallots
- 8 clove garlic
- 100 gr tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons fried shrimp paste
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 25 gram palm sugar
- 5 cm Kencur (lesser galangal)
- Heat oil and sauté the spice paste until fragrant. Remove from pan
- Add lime juice to spices paste, mix well
- Baste the chicken with the spice paste until whole chicken covered
- Bring to 180 degree Celcius oven for 1 hour.
- Turn over and baste again with the spice paste once. Remove from oven.
- Grill chicken slowly on charcoal until half dry
Serve with Rice and Plecing Kangkung.
My Version of Ayam Taliwang
When I cook chicken, I prefer to cook the boneless skinless chicken breast. The recipe I use was an adaptation from a recipe I found in one of popular cooking magazines in Indonesia named Sedap. And here is my version of Ayam Taliwang:
- 300 gram boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 lime, squeeze to get around 1-2 teaspoons juice
- 150 ml coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon shaved palm sugar
- vegetable oil
- pinch of salt
Finely pestle the following ingredients into spice-paste
- 6 red chilies, roasted
- 6 shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 candle nuts, fried without oil
- 1 teaspoon of roasted shrimp paste
- Rub the chicken breast with lime juice and salt, grill on charcoal or electrical or gas grill until half-cook
- Heat oil in a pan and sauté the spice paste until fragrant
- Pour in the coconut milk, salt and palm sugar, cook and stir until boiled
- Add the chicken breast
- Cook on low heat until the liquid is thickened and becomes gravy sauce
- Remove the chicken from pan, baste with the gravy sauce
- Grill slowly on charcoal or electrical or gas grill, turn around several times
Serve warm with rice and it surely will give you ‘A Kick in the Mouth’
- Sedap magazine