The Balinese-Javanese cuisine, a speciality of the Indonesian menu has always been characterised by its blend of rich marinated pastes and aromatic spices.
And, if you are looking for variety this season, then the Indonesian Food Festival conducted by the Eighth Bastion Hotel, Fort Kochi, is just the ideal place to be in. According to Chef Jomy, who has prepared quite a spread here as part of the Festival, the Indonesian cuisine is an interesting blend of the Chinese, Indian and Malay. And, while you dig a bite of any dish, there is no mistaking the ubiquitous presence of the coconut milk, quite the one which tickles the Malayali taste bud.
Start with the Satay Platter, a colourful mix of skewered, seasoned and grilled meat. It may resemble the kebab to some, but is basically different since the satay is glazed with a variety of sauces exclusive to the South-East Asian platter.
The Satay Platter comes at a cost of Rs 690 and could be the best choice for a group of adventurous foodies. For those who would like to be selective, there is the Satay Udang made from shrimp, flavoured with galangal (of the ginger family) and lime leaf.
The Satay Lilit is made from kernels of fish and prawns and flavoured with lemongrass and ginger while Satay Ayam is made from chicken breast marinated in peanut paste.
Chef Jomy also recommends the Satay Samoi consisting of beef slices with serrano chillies, peppers, ginger and candlenut. Vegetarians are lucky too as the Perkdel Jagung cooked with corn kernel, onion, lemongrass and galangal and the Tauh Goring Tepung made of fried paneer battens with tapioca flour, garlic and sambal are also being served.
“A bounty of good seafood, meat and grains make this cuisine spontaneous. Before we move into the main dish, try ordering a soup. At the Food Fest, we serve both vegetarian - Sayur Asam, which is made from garden vegetables, tamarind and red chili along with Sup Jamur which has shitake mushroom, garlic, shallots and red chili as the blend,” says Jomy. The Gedang Mekuah is a seafood soup bounty of squid, prawns, fish, green papaya, coconut milk and shallots.
Soft Leafy salads seasoned with shrimp powder, shallots and lemongrass vinaigrette comprise the Sambal be tongkoi while the Avocado mango consists of ripe mango mixed with avacado, bird chilly, shallots and lime leaf. The neatly bunched up Gado gado are garden vegetables garnished sesame oil, coconut milk and peanut dressing.
The majority of the main courses have sambals, a spicy paste masala as the base. Nasi gorengs or fried rice is also a must with these dishes. For example, the be celeng base manis consists of pork soaked in sweet, light and dark soya cooked in ginger, shallots, black pepper and sambal as base.
The pesen be pasih is also a favoured item and is a seer steak wrapped in banana leaves with shallots and candlenut marinade,raw papaya and peanut salad.
According to the chef, the Udang Panting Kuning is available across the Indonesian archipelago which consists of nearly 6000 islands. This meal has tiger prawns, thick tamarind and turmeric sauce and has a mix of raw papaya and peanut salad.
For desserts, one should try the Dadar, which is a rice flour pancake stuffed with coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon and jaggery emulsion. The Babur Injin which is a duo of chilled black rice pudding and coconut panacotta is made from rice specially from Tamil Nadu.
The Pisang goring consists of dark sesame banana fritters accompanied with peanut icecream. The Indonesian Food Fest will conclude on August 9.