Culinary Memoirs of A Biologist Who Loves Food

Indian and Maghrebi Cuisine Taste Trip at Fez-Kinara Kemang, Jakarta

Happy Eid Mubarrak! This year’s Ramadhan was quite memorable for me, because I got a chance (and money) to do more culinary trips. For this year, I paid a visit to Fez-Kinara in Kemang. They offered special Ramadhan iftar dishes sets themed “Indian” and “Spice Caravan”. Indian set was all about Indian and some Southern Asian dishes, while Spice Caravan set offered Maghrebi (countries of Atlas Mountains, located in Northern Africa – from Egypt to Morocco, also known as Berber countries) dishes.

Both Indian and Maghrebi dishes, whenever you hear about it, I believe that everything come first to your mind is everything thick and spicy, like curry. True. Indian dishes have complex spices, from cumin, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and more, while Moroccan (as part of Maghrebi country) has more coriander flavor in it. Indian carbos in a dish mainly come from rice, Moroccan from couscous.

Let’s start from the dish served on iftar (the end of fasting, normally at 5:45 PM).

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Chebakia (Left) and Jalebi (Right)

As iftar normally started by eating dates and a glass of water, followed by some sweets, we got Chebakia (Moroccan), fried dough in rose-shape, glazed in honey and sprinkled with sesame seed, and Jalebi (Indian), a fried spiral-shaped dough, and glazed in sugar syrup. Chebakia has more bite as it is crunchy, while Jalebi is softer, but oily. As far as I know, many Indian sweets are quite oily and overflown with sugar.

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Chicken 65 (Kozhi 65) (Indian)

I know that its name is kinda odd, but Chicken 65 is a dish originated from Buhari Hotel Chain in Hyderabad, along with Paneer 65 (with cottage cheese) and Gobi 65 (cauliflower) all are coated with rice flour, all purpose flour, and chili powder (which give the red-orange color) then deep fried to crunchiness. The number 65, if I correct, it comes from the year these dishes were discovered, 1965, and also the price (INR 65). I like the crunchiness and the light spicy flavor on it, the batter is so crispy, while the inside, the chicken is moist. I wish on Fez-Kinara, they serve it with mint chutney.

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Clockwise from top (Extra, out of set) Butter Paneer (Paneer Makhani), Rice Pilau, and Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

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Butter Paneer, enlarged. Note that this one is out of the set

The term “Makhani” or translated as buttery, came from 1950 discovery of the dish in Restaurant Moti Mahal, New Delhi, when they add butter to tomato-based curry. The flavor is strong but mild (compared to other Indian curry, which could be hotter), it has Indian garam masala, ginger, turmeric, pepper, and more. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese, which curd coagulated with lemon juice. It has tofu like consistency, but the flavor is mild like mozzarella. Turning paneer into the gravy, as chicken, is really a good idea. The rice pilau has light flavor in it as I tasted it, I guess it was added with stock and turmeric.

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Karhai Paneer, also out of the set, for my curiosity

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Bitten paneer

Compared to Paneer Maghni, Karhai Paneer, has extra burn in your mouth. It flavor strongly comes from tomato gravy (the base), choped green pepper, ginger, and coriander leaves.

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Sheekh Kebab

Still curious about Indian dishes, I ordered Sheekh Kebab on my next visit (outside the set as well). Those who know will understand that this kebab is made of grilled minced lamb and popularized in many South Asian countries. It’s meaty and spicy in one bite.

For Indian dessert, I got something new for me.

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Zaffrani Phirni (Saffron Phirni)

Phirni or firni is a creamy sweet rice pudding. In one bite, I still can feel the rice inside (the rice is completely cooked as in main dish, I guess to bring the bite in it), also there are raisin, crushed pistachio, and cardamom pods. It is fragrant and sweet in the same time. I read it that firni is normally served during iftar, too. And I really like this one.

Now, we go for Maghrebi dishes.

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Harira Soup

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Inside, there are vermicelli, beans, and lamb meat

Harira (Arabic:  الحريرة‎ – al-ḥarīra, Berber: ⵣⴽⵉⴼ – azkif) comes from Algeria and Morocco. It has mild tomato, coriander, and onion flavor and rich meaty flavor from the minced lamb. More surprised for me, there is vermicelli pasta in it. This soup is quite packed, I almost half-full by eating it.

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Chicken Mugalgal

Mugalgal here is quite eccentric, because it has paprika, onion, and I say, it has more Western touch in it, although it has coriander and other spices in it. The taste is also more Mediterranian in it, fresh. Chicken Mugalgal comes from Saudi Arabia, and they said it was served during Eid-al-Adha celebration. This meal definitely good with rice.

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Chicken Mandi Rice

Chicken Mandi here is sweet-savory rice dish, originated from Yemen (Arabic: المندي‎ – Al-mandi). The savory comes from the chicken and I guess, the base stock, while the sweet comes from the raisin. There is also cardamom pods in it. I enjoyed eating it with the chicken, also with the mugalgal.

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Plain Couscous

Other option than rice here is couscous (Arabic: كُسْكُس‎ – kuskus, Berber: ⵙⵉⴽⵙⵓ – seksu), a dish made of semolina flour, well, it basically looks like a small crumbles of flour. It has no flavor if you cook it plainly. It is good when you eat it with meat tagines or any curry dishes.

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Umm Ali

Last, but not least, umm ali (أمعلي‎ – um ali) for the dessert. It is an Egyptian dessert, normally served for Ramadhan celebration. It is sweet and fragrance bread pudding with milk (it has cinnamon and cardamom infused in it), and sprinkled with pistachios, peanuts, and raisins. Also love this as dessert, although it is quite heavy if you are already stuffed. The meaning behind the name is quite interesting, the name means “Ali’s mother”, it was said that it is made by the mother of al-Mansur Ali, it’s quite a dark story about her revenge against Shajar al-Durr for stealing her husband, killing it, and plotting on his son to become a sultan, you can check it on the web.

Thrice my visits were there, and I am glad that I came back home after that with happy, full stomach.

Note: The sets was available during Ramadan 2018

FEZ-KINARA DINING AND LOUNGE, KEMANG

Address: Jl. Kemang Raya No.78B, Kemang, Jakarta. Phone (for reservation) – (+62 21) 719 2677. Zomato. TripAdvisor. Web.

Ordered sets and meals:

  • Indian or Spice Caravan sets: Single person – IDR 150k, Two person – IDR 260k, Four person – IDR 480k (all price already added with tax)
  • Plain Couscous: IDR 42k before taxes
  • Karhai Paneer: IDR 104k before taxes
  • Paneer Butter Masala (Small): IDR 123k before taxes
  • Seekh Kebab: IDR 106k before taxes

Notes: The restaurant normally will be vacant, but it would be better if you reserve a seat.

-AW-

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