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Comfort food and books that comfort

Christina Stock Photo Serving suggestion of Indonesian chicken with egg and rice.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Indonesia’s Semur and Jodi Lea Stewart’s Navajo trilogy

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Last week, I shared with you some of my favorite Asian sauce recipes, including the Indonesian sweet soy-based ketjap manis sauce, which is impossible to find in our area, so I made it myself. Fortunately, the sauce is very easy to make. If you haven’t made a batch of the sauce, you can still find the recipe on our website rdrnews.com/2020/04/06/comfort-food-and-books-for-comfort-7.

Today, I share with you one of the most delicious recipes of Indonesia: Semur. I encountered it for the first time in my childhood’s home in Wiesbaden, Germany. My godmother/adopted aunt Wendy was originally from Indonesia and introduced me to this new world of spices when I was 10 years old. Wendy was the lead singer of an Indonesian pop music band that performed in Wiesbaden quite often. She became best friends with my aunt Eveline who was a fan of live music. The club’s name was Park Cafe, and it was the place to be in Wiesbaden in the 1970s when disco was at its height of popularity. A club by night, during the day it was a fun place to have lunch. I would often accompany my aunt after school, sitting quiet like a mouse, listening to the rehearsals of the bands who would perform that night. My favorite was Wendy, she could sing “Goldfinger” — the James Bond movie theme — just like Shirley Bassey.

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Indonesia was a former colony of the Netherlands and had avoided in 1945 — when it successfully won its independence from the Netherlands — becoming an Islamic state, despite its predominately muslim citizens. Many who were protestants or buddhists and pro-colony left for the Netherlands. Hence a large Indonesian population found its home in Europe, including Wendy and her family. We still are in contact today, thanks to social media and Facebook.

On Easter, a favorite dish for Christian Indonesian families is a ketjap manis dish with boiled eggs and chicken: Semur. It has been decades since I tasted it, but thanks to several variations I found online, I experimented until I found the right one. This following recipe comes very close.

Indonesian Easter Semur

Serves 4


5 shallots, thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 inches fresh grated ginger

4 hard boiled eggs

1 cup ketjap manis

2 tsp white pepper

¾ tsp nutmeg

½ coriander powder

1 tsp Asian chile sauce — the hot kind

2 inches fresh bruised lemongrass

1 cup water

2 Tbsp soy sauce or more to taste

4 large cuts of chicken (preferably skinless and bone-in)

Peanut oil

First hard boil your eggs for 15 minutes. Peel and set aside.

You can use any part of the chicken, I prefer chicken thigh with the bone because it is more flavorful. However, due to COVID-19 shoppers, I only got chicken breast, which works as well.

Season the chicken with the white pepper and 1.5 tsp of salt. Fry in a tsp of peanut oil in a deep pan evenly on both sides and remove the chicken and put aside on a plate until later.

Add a little more peanut oil into the pan and fry the shallots, garlic cloves and ginger until it turns fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Return the chicken and add the water, soy sauce, hot chile sauce and ketjap manis. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the bruised lemongrass, the nutmeg and the peeled eggs. Turn gently and taste.

Depending on what you like, you can add a little more soy sauce, chile sauce, brown sugar or coriander. If you like cumin, you can add a tsp as well.

Let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve with jasmine or basmati rice.

I would love to see your photos, post them on the Vision Facebook page or email vision@rdrnews.com.

Books for comfort:

Today, I introduce you to New Mexico Co-op author Jodi Lea Stewart. Her “Silki, The Girl of Many Scarves” trilogy is a contemporary all-age fiction: “Silki Begay is a sassy Navajo girl with an addiction to scarves and a penchant for predicaments. It’s Nancy Drew meets Tony Hillerman in these action-packed adventure mysteries woven with Navajo language, tradition, and lore. Print and eBooks are available now.”

Stewart emailed, “Silki, The Girl of Many Scarves, Valley of Shadows,” was a three-category finalist in the 2018 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

“These novels are high-concept,” Stewart wrote. “Written for any age, have surprise endings and share Navajo culture in a delightful way. Glossaries are included to shed more light on the customs and language of the Dine people.

“My latest published novel, “The Accidental Road,” was published just a few months ago by Prairie Rose Publications/Fire Star Press.  Here is a brief introduction:

“A teen and her mother escaping an abusive home life tumble into the epicenter of crime peddlers invading Arizona and Nevada in the 1950s. Stranded hundreds of miles from their planned destination of Las Vegas, they land in a dusty town full of ghosts and tales, treachery and corruption. Avoiding disaster is tricky, especially as it leads teenager Kat into a fevered quest for things as simple as home and trust. Danger lurks everywhere, leading her to wonder if she and her mother really did take The Accidental Road of life, or if it’s the exact right road to all they ever hoped for.”

The author’s bio reads: “Stewart grew up smelling cedar berries and cow manure on a large cattle ranch wedged between the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Her friends were Native American and Hispanic, with a few Anglos thrown in for good measure. Her pastimes were singing to chickens, climbing giant petroglyph-etched boulders, hanging on for dear life in the back end of rattly old pickups driven over terracotta roads so washed out they qualified as mini-Grand Canyons, and riding one of the orneriest horses God ever put on this planet. Many monsoon seasons later, Jodi writes adventure-mystery novels set in the Southwest and the South.”

Stewart’s books are available on Amazon. For more information, visit jodileastewart.com.


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