A little taste of Bali – Base Genep a.k.a awesome Indonesian spice mix

Base Genep
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Have you ever suffered from holiday envy? No? Then consider yourself lucky!

For me, it seems that EVERYONE I know has either just come back from holidays, is on holidays or is about to take off for their holiday. In the last two months I have had people taking off for trips across the USA, Disneyland, Atlantic QM2 crossing, Hawaii, Europe, a Bali diving getaway, going to the Rugby World Cup quarter finals to see the Wallabies take on Scotland! (this one annoyed me the most!) Even my own Mini Me had her own two week get away over the school holidays.

October and November are difficult months for me. Characteristically they are hectic & crazy office days with me running around like a chook with no head on. It’s like the world knows that I am desperate for my own holiday and keeps on throwing other peoples holidays my way.

With my own getaway in sight I went through my holiday happy snaps, Europe, Thai Land, Queensland, NZ, and Bali.

Bali is our families go-to-place to get away and really relax without feeling the need to have to do something everyday, mainly because we have been there a few times.

Going through my travel photos I came across ones of my favourite restaurant in Ubud called Indus, owned by ex-pat Australian Janet De Neefe, creator of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. Janet was born and bred in Melbourne but after falling for a Balinese man in 1984 she moved to Ubud and I guess as they say, the rest is history. She now runs Indus and Casa Luna. The cooking school at Casa luna is world renowned, being listed as one of the best cooking school in the world by ‘The Australian’ newspaper.

Indus is a short 5 minute drive from the center of town and is set overlooking awe inspiring, lush rolling green hills. I still remember my very first visit, it was October 2002, my first trip to Bali, hubby had lost count with his. We had booked three nights in Ubud and Indus was not very far from our hotel. The restaurant was recommended to us by our dear friend and tour guide extraordinaire Made Dampol.

Our experience was amazing. The atmosphere, the service and the food was fantastic. Indus overlooks the Tjampuhan river however walking into the restaurant you have absolutely no idea what beauty awaits you towards the end of the their courtyard. I highly recommend visiting around the 5pm mark to feast on their divine menu, Balinese with a modern twist whilst watching the sun cast long shadows over the lush green hills.



Like all good things our holiday came to an end but when I came across Janet De Neffe’s book ‘BALI’ in the store I was like a child in a candy shop! I ran home with the book in hand and studied it from page to page, drooling over which recipe I would make first, a little difficult considering they all look good!


I settled on Base Genep. A traditional spice paste that the Balinese use to flavour many of their dishes with. It translates to the complete spice mix.

Ingredient list in hand I was off and running…until I hit a brick wall called kencur root! Yep! Absolutely no one sells it within a 30 km radius of me! I went into all sorts of Asian shops and most of the people looked at me as if I was speaking another language. Luckily Janet states that if you can’t find kencur not to worry about it.

I have to agree with Janet that “the ingredients list was a bit daunting” BUT me being the student and her being the teacher I followed her instructions to the nth degree, which included grabbing a glass of wine (a large glass) and working through everything in your mortar.

I soon found myself working up a horrible sweat pounding all the ingredients together. I did think of throwing everything into the electric mixer…but that would defeat the purpose. If my food was going to taste great I had to work at it!

About 20 minutes into it I had the most amazing, aromatic and HOT smelling paste! Be warned…it’s definitely not for the faint hearted…but it tastes awesome in a variety of recipes and forms the most amazing base.

You can keep the paste in the fridge for a week and it can be used in a variety of different dishes.

Bella 🙂

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