Tribute to the Gods

A young boy was struggling to turn on the French stove, Lacanche in Pantry Magic. “Can I get any help? It’s too sophisticated for me,” he laughed. It doesn’t take too long for him to be accustomed to this fancy piece of equipment as he trying to make the tuile for his recipe Ayam Base Genep.

Some people are into medical, some are into culinary, but very few decided to
learn both. Despite of his young age, the 7th semester medical student, Leonardus Eric, also known as Eric KHM, is also busy running Jamuan, his own private dining brand. In addition, the 21 years old boy also involves in every part of the menu creation, from concepting, cooking, styling, to taking pictures and videos of his own creation. You can see his creations in Jamuan’s Instagram @jamuan. “It’s quite busy, I go to college on 7.00 am to 3.00 pm, after that I’ll have meetings, sometimes I only have 3 hours to sleep,” said Eric.

Cooking has become a hobby for Eric from childhood. “I love reading recipe books, watching the cooking reality shows. Most of all, I love to come to places to learn traditional recipes from the local people to get the true authentic taste. For the past 3-4 years, things are getting more serious, now I know what want to do in this industry,” he said.

Seeing his passion in cooking, we assume that his choice of becoming a medical student came from his parents. Apparently, we are wrong. “Its my own choice, I can’t choose only one, perhaps because I love many things. However, I love being an entrepreneur, I have a dream of having my own group that combines medical and F&B one day, I’ve found a way to make synergy for both of them,” said Eric.

Jamuan is the showcase of Eric’s love to local produce. In fact, Eric is a member of young ACMI (Aku Cinta Masakan Indonesia), a sub community under the actual ACMI, which has younger member, under 24 to be specific. “The younger generations don’t understand much about Indonesian food. Actually, Indonesian food is very big, each region has different local taste, and they are all good. We also have so many ingredients, we can use everything from the plants, from the rhizome, root, leaf, trunk, to the flower. I’m trying to bring the local cuisine to the world,” he said.

The Philosophy of Base Genep

Among many Indonesian recipes, Eric decided to go with Ayam Base Genep, mainly because of its philosophy. “In Bali, base means spice and genep means complete. It’s the Balinese complete spice, almost all of Balinese dishes use it as base, from lawar, garang asem, sate lilit, to bebek betutu. It’s like Balinese mother sauce,” said Eric.

The spices used in base genep also represent 4 four color, cardinal directions, and Hindunese Gods. “Galangal represents the color red, south, and the God Brahman, ginger represents the color black, north, and Vishnu, kencur (kaempferia galangal) represents white, east and Ishvara, and the last one, turmeric represents yellow, west, and Mahadeva,” explained Eric.

Balinese also have unique method of determining the measurement of the ingredients. Balinese use their index finger to measure the turmeric, middle finger for galangal, ring finger for ginger, and pinky for the kencur. When you have the total 4 ingredients, use half of the total measurement as the measurement for shallot, and half of the shallot measurement for garlic, half of the garlic for red chili, and half of red chili for the spices. You will have 8 ingredients, but you still have 2 to go, shrimp paste to represents the land and salt to represents the sea.

“When you combined all these 10 ingredients, it will become the center point, it represents Shiva. There’s a belief in Bali, when the belawah (Balinese cook) can mix these ingredients well, the food will be delicious, and it will also beneficial for health,” Eric said.

Base genep is commonly used in chicken or seafood dishes. Please remember that Hindunese doesn’t consume beef, so you’ll never any beef dishes in their traditional dishes. Even though he was recreating traditional dish in a modern presentation, he insisted on having the original taste.

“I don’t make any modifications for the taste, however I make some twist. I took out the kecombrang (torch ginger) out from the sambal matah and make it into aioli (garlic mayonnaise). I use the neutral oil, canola, and infuse the kecombrang with low heat for hours, put some mustard, egg, salt, water, and rice vinegar,” he explained.

Traditionally, you can’t use blender to make base genep. The Balinese use the technique called “rames”, the process of chopping all the ingredients with knives on both hands. “If you eat the traditional bebek betutu, you will have chunks of spices. Not everyone like it, it’s like eating jamu. It will take hours to make finer chops, therefore, I prefer to use blender,” he said.

Since it can be used on many Balinese dishes, it’s a good idea to make the base genep in larger quantity. It can be stored for 5 days in room temperature, or approximately 3 weeks in refrigerator.

In the beginning, we have seen that Eric is capable of making beautifully presented dishes, but we’re kind of skeptical of his palate, his taste, perhaps because of his young age. As we all know, not all dishes taste as good as they look. However, after taking a bite of the Ayam Base Genep, and the sambal matah, our concern immediately vanished, followed by the food on the plate. It’s definitely the true Balinese taste!