Padang is a town in Indonesia and Padang-style cooking’s considered fiery hot. Dunster’s always willing to try out new recipes with me. Luckily for me, he has a great liking for anything spicy, meaty and soupy and Gulai Cincang‘s that. We do like it very much..

Recipe from Spicy Padang Cooking by Periplus

Serves 4-6;  Preparation Time: 30 mins;  Cooking time: 30 mins


  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 5-6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 8cm cinnamon stick
  • 250 g lamb ribs, cut into lengths  (I used pork ribs)
  • 750g boneless lamb, cut into pieces  (I used shoulder pork)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 slices asam gelugor (dried garcinia fruit), soaked in warm water till soften  or 4 tbsp tamarind juice
  • 1 liter thin coconut milk
  • 250ml thick coconut milk

Spice Paste:

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cardamon pods, split open to obtain seeds
  • 4 candlenuts, crushed
  • 8-10 red chillies, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 cm ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 1/2 cm turmeric, peeled and sliced
  • 2 1/2 cm galangal root, peeled and sliced


To make Spice Paste:

  1. Dry-fry coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon seeds and candlenuts in a wok or skillet over low heat till fragrant, 5-10 mins.
  2. Remove and grind to a powder in a mortar or spice grinder. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Grind all other ingredients for Spice Paste to a smooth paste in a mortar or blender, adding some coconut milk (I used oil coz oil doesn’t splatter so much when added to a wok with oil) to keep paste turning, if necessary.
  4. Remove and combine with ground spice in bowl and mix til well blended. Set aside.

To make Curry or Gulai:

  1. Heat oil in a large deep wok over medium heat and stir-fry shallots and cinnamon till golden brown, 1-2 mins.
  2. Add spice paste and stir-fry till fragrant, 3-5 mins.
  3. Add lamb, salt, asam slices and thin coconut milk, mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10-15 mins, stirring constantly till lamb is tender and curry is thickened.
  4. Add thick coconut milk and bring curry to a boil, then simmer for 2 more mins before removing from heat.
  5. Serve immediately with steamed rice and green vegetables.

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