Muffins recipes

National dish of East Timor

flag of East Timor

  • Independence: 20. 5. 2002
  • Capital: Dili
  • Official language: Portuguese
  • Population: 1 066 582
  • Area: 14 874 km2
  • International code: TL
  • Currency: United States dollar (USD)
map of East Timor

Ikan Pepes


  • 2lb whole fresh Red Snapper or similar fish  (I used an American Red Snapper and also Mahi Mahi portions)

Ingredients for Curry paste:

  • 1 Tsp tamarind pulp, soaked 5 minutes.
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 6-10 large chiles, chopped   (I used 5 and it had plenty of heat. 6-10 will be quite hot)
  • 1 stem lemongrass (only the inner part of the bottom 10 cm), thinly sliced
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 1 small, ripe tomato
  • 1/2 Tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp dried shrimp paste
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves

Ingredients for fish pre marinade:

  • 1 lime sliced in half
  • 1 Tsp salt
Ikan Pepes is national food (dish) of East Timor


Score the fish several times and marinate it with salt and lime rubbed into the surface. Grind all of the curry ingredients in a processor till they are smooth (about 2 minutes) Rinse the banana leaves and place about 1/3 of the curry in the bottom of the sheet of banana leaf. Rub about 1/3 of the curry into the belly of the fish. Ladle the remaining 1/3 of the curry over the fish and seal up the “packets”. Steam for 20 minutes in a bamboo steamer Grill for an additional 6 minutes to impart a smoky finish to the dish (Sadly the weather didn’t allow this step) Unwrap the packets and serve over rice with chopped basil.


The food of East Timor is similar to the cuisine of Indonesia and contains local produce such as fish and rice with spiced curries, lemongrass, ginger, chilies etc.  The national dish is Ikan Pepes.  Ikan means fish and Pepes refers to the method of steaming in banana leaves then cooking over a grill.

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