Indonesian cuisine is way too alien to Indian tastebuds, a common notion that many among us have. The idea went all wrong after eating out at ‘Jalan Makanan’, the Indonesian food festival, the first-of-its-kind in the city at Trident Hotel. The fest was a surprise of sorts because of the interesting connect found between the cuisine of Indonesia and Southern part of our country. For instance, the curries of Indonesia are prepared using a judicious amount of coconut milk and chilly. And rice is the staple food of the people there, just like here. Malayalis famous for their love for fiery fish curries and pickles can easily savour the Indonesian delicacies made with spices like ‘kencur’ and ‘kluwek’.
We started off the gastronomic journey with the ‘Cram Cam’, the Indonesian chicken soup, the favourite pick of chef Sheandy Salria, who flew all the way from Indonesia to conduct this festival. The red-coloured clear soup with the ingenious Indonesian spices was a delectable start. The delicacy played an integral role in the country once. When the cock-fighters of Indonesia competed with each other, the winner was given the dead cock with which was prepared the soup. For the vegans, there is ‘Sayur Asem’, a clear soup made with tamarind.
The multi-ethnic nation has umpteen stories attached to each dish. Even salads have tales to tell. “’Jakut Meurab’, a succulent mixed vegetable salad with Balinese yellow paste and coconut is a ceremonial dish. The dish is traditionally prepared when war comes. It is especially prepared for the warrior for the supper before the war, and it is known as ‘Ma Gibum’,” explains the chef as he shares some interesting nuggets about the tradition of the dishes of the nation. On the salad platter, there are plenty of varieties. ‘Ayam Pelalah’, the shredded chicken breast with red spice paste is worth tasting. Islands of Indonesia known for their sambal dishes (a sauce made from a variety of chilli peppers and shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and sugar) offer ‘Sambal Tappa’, made of spicy tuna, tender mango and sambal matah. Other distinctive salads include the sweet ‘Rajuk Buah’, a preparation of fruits, tamarind and palm sugar dressing.
Indonesian dishes are aromatic, because of the use of unique spices and herbs that are available only in the islands, says the chef. The culinary habits have an influence of China, Japan and India. As we moved on to the main course, we were welcomed by many distinctive dishes that were unique in taste and appearance. ‘Bak Mie Goreng Jogja’, stir fried rice made with an array of seafood, chicken and topped with bull’s eye is a tempting beginning. ‘Ayam Kecap’, a chicken delicacy braised in ‘ABC Black Gold’ sweet soya sauce is a star among the main course side dishes. Influenced by the tastes of West Japan, it is a must-try dish. ‘Pepes Jamur’, roasted mushroom wrapped in banana leaves is a yummy dish that comes to our platter straight from the kitchens of Sumatra. Another simple delicacy that is more of a starter that everyone must try is ‘Perkedel Jagung’, a corn fritter. Deep fried tenderloin with red paste is ‘Daging Balado’ from Sumatra. The mildly spiced dish is worth savouring. Sayur Lodeh from Java is a coconut-based stew prepared with vegetables, which can be relished because of its similarity to Indian curries.
‘Terong Goreng Balado’, char grilled eggplant made with red paste is a succulent delicacy.
In the dessert counter there was a surprise in the form of ‘Babur Ketan Hitam’ which is similar to the sweet porridge of Kerala made with rice. Pisang Goreng was also similar to our banana fritters except the sauce used. But Pandan cake baked with Sumatra based pandan leaves and cream was a unique dessert. The festival is on till March 9. The timings are 12.30 to 3 for lunch and 7.30 to 10.30 for dinner. The buffet, priced at `850 excluding tax, offers a cyclic menu throughout the fest.