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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
It has been 3 months since I made a visit to Japan, and seriously, I still miss their colorful but simple food. I love Japanese food so much. For me their food is so natural (some people, especially some Indonesian think that it is too bland, not for me though) and their basic tastes are simple: sweet, salty, sour, and umami – and I like it. So in short, after my food hunting in Tokyo (Ikebukuro, Chuo, and specifically Tsukiji Fish Market), Kyoto, and Niigata (for sushi), I am still looking if I could have some again here in Jakarta.
A month ago, there is a new restaurant to try in Grand Indonesia, and it is a Japanese restaurant. As their sponsored ads were popped up in my Instagram feed, and it caught my attention, I decided to make it a try on their opening day (January 19th, 2018). Their spot is cozy, their food price is also good and reachable, and the taste is cool – let’s talk about it on my review!
“So, I know you know about ochazuke. What is it?”
Chazuke or ochazuke (お茶漬け) means to submerge in tea (ocha お茶漬), so basically is a rice dish, consists of rice (plain, white) with some toppings (from fish, beef, chicken, roe, or more), then poured with tea, or hot water, or dashi (出汁) a fish (normally made of drenched fermented bonito fish flake or katsuobushi 鰹節) and or kelp (kombu 昆布) based broth, which is rich in natural umami flavor that enhance the flavors of the main ingredients to the next level. Originated in Heian Period of Japan (794-1185), hot water is used. Later in Edo Period (1603-1868). Funny enough, in Kyoto, this dish called bubuzuke and when it served to you as a guest, that means you have been overstayed in the restaurant and THAT is a polite way of the restaurant servers to ask you to leave. But I believe in Zenraku, since the main theme is chazuke, it doesn’t mean that way! Hehe (but of course don’t stay too long and buy nothing, it’s improper!).
So I ordered two kinds of chazuke that day: Salmon – as my first impression to see if the fish is good, and tarako or pollock roe – my favorite topping in pasta and onigiri during my visit in Japan.
So their basic rice topping is chopped mitsuba leaf (三つ葉 – it is a fragrance and a bit spicy leaf), nori (seaweed), white sesame seed, chopped leek, and tempura crumble. In some dish I saw edamame or green soybean is also added. The salmon is partially broiled, mainly on the surface. It is delicious as I tasted it. Once I poured the dashi, wow it escalated! It is awesome!
Initially, I thought there is a tea added to the dashi, but actually it is a fish-based dashi and it brings a perfect amount of salty flavor (added into the dashi), to the whole meal!
The second meal, Tarako Chazuke, I poured the dashi a bit gently over rice, not to hit the roe as it will change its consistency and probably the taste. In short, I keep it raw, while I use the dashi to enhance the flavor of the rest part and slowly sips into the roe. And wow, wow, it is so delicious. The combination of tarako saltiness and the umami, it is just spot on!
It is not enough!
So then I made my second visit (February 1st, 2018). If I love the foods, I will made my second visit. This time, I couldn’t spot the Japanese chef. So things rest to the main chef of the restaurant now.
Today’s decision: To try something new (so I tried the sampler) and I think I need more fish, but probably the different one (red snapper).
Different from the salmon, red snapper is served as cubes, and already marinated with sweet soy based sauce. The sweetness balance the saltiness of the dashi. It has more flavor than the salmon and it is delicious!
An extra chopped thin omelette (tamagoyaki) is added into the chicken and unagi, and edamame is also added specifically in unagi. I like the beef as it is soft and kinda melted to the rice, the chicken is good, and the unagi, it is okay – the problem is the unagi is a bit hard. In conclusion, the beef is the best one among the three.
Then, I finished my meal. All my meals are awesome, I have to say. The atmosphere was relaxing, I’d love to make another visit again someday. The price is okay, it’s reasonable and matched the quality. The thing I needed to complain is the waiter/waitress. They’re still a bit clumsy and confused during the opening, and I got a wrong food. I believe they could make it better soon, so overall, I was enjoying my lunch!
ZENRAKU DASHI CHAZUKE
Food rating: 5 out of 5
Service quality: 3 out of 5
Grand Indonesia – West Mall LG Floor. Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.1, Kb. Melati, Central Jakarta, Indonesia. Phone: +62 21 2358 0486
Cards? – Yes, Debit – Mandiri and BCA
Everyday at 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Food: Chazuke (IDR 49k – 72k, extra toppings IDR 12k – 38k, add ons IDR 4k – 12k), Others (IDR 15k – 42k)
Beverage: IDR 8k – 52k
Tips: It probably will be crowded during lunch or dinner hours.
Man, it has been more than one year since I wrote my last article. I supposed to write this one down in August 2016, but apparently due to a hectic transition of myself, I had to prioritize some other things first and I haven’t had any time to write this down.
Okay, so short story, I went back from Finland to Indonesia and I have to search for another place, somewhere in this world to continue my PhD, while now I become a teacher for university preparation school in Jakarta, where I teach high school students for biology subject. Back to topic, some moments before I went back to Indonesia, my good friend, Kofi from Ghana, taught me how to cook a special dish originated from his home country! Here it is:
At first glance, I thought it was a bit confusing why there are some European spices, rice, and tomato are like gathered together in a potluck, then I realized the backstory of Swedish colonization in Ghana. Much like the cultural exchange between Indonesia and Netherlands (mentioned in my old article written in Bahasa Indonesia).
As I remember, you only need some chopped ginger, garlic, onion, chopped tomato (or bottled Marinara sauce), tomato paste, oregano, some salt and pepper, and also chicken for additional topping and Basmati rice as major ingredients. To mash the ginger and garlic, you can use pestle and mortar, or you can go traditional and use Ghanaian Ayewa instead!
First, boil some chicken legs, add some salt and pepper.
Chop the ginger, onion, and garlic for sautéing. Mash more chopped garlic and ginger, and add into the boiled chicken for extra flavor. Roast the chicken for later topping for rice, and leave the stock for making tomato sauce, keep boiling until more oil appeared on the surface.
Hot the pan, pour some olive oil, add the garlic and ginger, and then the onion. Add some pepper and salts.
Add chopped tomato and tomato paste into the pan, sprinkle the dried oregano. Pour some of the chicken stocks, reduce it until the oil separated on top of the pan.
Add the oil from tomato reduction and some of the tomato sauce part into the rice cooker bowl. Pour the uncooked rice, and mix well. Add some frozen vegetables if desired.
Cook the rice on rice cooker. Alternatively, you can cook it on stove as well, although it will be longer to done.
Assemble the chicken, sauce, and rice.
It will be like this:
Part 1 – PaF International Food Night
Part 2 – Peruvian Lunch and Bunny Chow
Part 3 – Venezuelan Street Foods
Part 4 – Medieval Dishes
I had a chance to go around the Second Restaurant Day in August 11th, 2016! On that day, I visited a food tent built only at the following day on the park of Turun Linna (FI: Turku Castle). The place caught my attention as they mentioned in the restaurant day website that they serve medieval food. And so I went there…
As I walked, as someone who watched Game of Thrones like me thought
I hope this is not the tent diorama of Red Wedding or something in Jeoffrey’s wedding this food tent named A.D. 1393 looks like something out of the medieval age, built by the peasants around the king’s castle. Later, I was to getting so curious on what kind of food they serve there.
The book where all the recipes come from.
I saw some people dressed in medieval style and then I saw some foods. Firstly I asked them about how they managed to recreate the food, and they answered that they got the reference from a book called “The Good Wife’s Guide”, a translated book, translated by Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose.
Wow… that’s really interesting! So how’s the food?
Boiled Pike with Yellow Sauce, served with bread, Saffron Rice, and Creamy Spelt
The Yellow Sauce for the fish
I was amazed on the simplicity of the meal I had.
Me: How did you cook this fish?
Woman: We just simply clean the pike, dice them, and then boil them in the water with salt.
Me: That’s it??
The flavor of the fish is very natural… I mean, it’s so natural, the… fishy flavor are still there! Even the spikes are still there. Although the yellow sauce (I forgot to ask on how it’s made) gave a bit flavor in it. The rice and spelt are also unique for me. The saffron rice has a near risotto like flavor, but more bland except the taste of cream, same for me on the spelt.
Woman: To make the rice and spelt, cook each of them with 50:50 of water and milk until they soften and absorbed the liquid. Add egg yolk and mix them until their texture are like carbonara pasta. For the rice, add a bit of saffron.
Ummm… I don’t know if I forget but… no seasoning at all mentioned by the book? Or is it because spices are pretty expensive in 14th century?
Pea Soup with Bread.
The pea soup has better flavor than the fish in my opinion. We have a good combination of onion and pea sweetness in it.
Me: How about this pea soup?
Woman: We boiled the whole onion, chopped it, and add the pea to the mix.
Me: Nothing more? For the seasoning?
Woman: Well, salt and pepper… and also white wine.
It amazed me, honestly. I never know a method of cooking the onion by boiling them and diced them and then placing them back in the pan for sautéing with oil. Later, white wine and water are added and reduced. To enhance the flavor, salt, pepper, and ginger is added.
I read a book about medieval food before, a Roman book made by Apicius (first written cookbook in history). I saw many… well, I’m not sure that bizarre is a right word, but… intriguing way to cook in earlier time. Less flavor and the ingredient’s natural flavor is the key.
I wonder how was the medieval food of my country looks like…
Part 1 – PaF International Food Night
Part 2 – Peruvian Lunch and Bunny Chow
Part 3 – Venezuelan Street Foods
Part 5 – African Jollof Rice
Moi! Tervetuloa Suomen! Ummm… I meant, welcome to Finland! This month and forth, I will take you to the meals that I will eat for daily routines, or some restaurant visits, or even some traditional food events!
Honestly for me, transition between Indonesia and Finland is not that much in term of food for me because actually I used to eat bread or cereal in the morning instead of rice while I was still in Indonesia. Even more, I actually random enough to made this… Karelian Pasty (low budget and no rye version):
The idea comes from Alexis Gabriel AKA “The French Guy” in Youtube…
And… now I’m here! Here in Turku, Finland, Karelian Pasty or Karjalanpiiraka is something you can found almost in every supermarket that selling breads which may cost you only less than 1 euro per kilogram.
The difference is uncanny… this one is piece of art!
As Indonesian that accustomed to be full after eating rice, me myself… after eating like 3-4 pieces of this (medium size), I’m starting to full. I like the mild savoury and creaminess of the rice in here. I like these one! There are other variants of Karelian Pasty: Porkkanapiirakkan (FI: Porkka = carrot) or Perunapiirakan (FI: Peruna = potato).
Porkkanapiirakkan (with rice and carrot)
To let you all know, Karelia is area in Europe that marks the northwestern part from Russia, including some part in south of Finland. This pasty or pirog is available mostly in Finland, and especially here in Turku (you can find it in LIDL, K-Market, or Siwa). People here say that the pasty is delicious if you eat it with egg butter or munavoi (FI: Muna = egg, voi = butter), butter mixed with chopped hard-boiled egg.
For daily, I ate bread, cheese, and sometime… fish, because fishes in here are all mostly fresh! In Turku, I normally buy my stuffs in supermarket, but sometimes… if I’m in mood for adventure, I go to Kauppatori (FI: market) located in the heart of the city, where sometimes… various goods can be found.
In the market… in fish truck.
We can sometime found a fish truck in the market (last time, I saw it on Wednesday in a week ago, and in Friday around three weeks ago). They sell various cooked fish in there, from salmon with any methods of cooking, fish patties, to other smoked fish. They priced per weight (kilogram).
You can found smoked salmon… with cream cheese and herb, with herb, with spices, or original one. Last time, I bought the one with cream cheese and herb… and it’s truly marvellous!
Smoked salmon with cream cheese and herb (0.25 Kg = EUR 5), warmed in microwave.
Smoked herring (whole fishes; 0.5 Kg = EUR 5), also warmed in microwave.
For the first time, I also interested to buy smoked herring because I was curious about it. Well… like I was in Indonesia eating nila fish, it has a lot of spiky bones in it so you have to be careful, and because it’s whole… you need to separate anything with flesh before you it it. I ate “something” from it, and I don’t like it…
Rye breads are common in here. The one I bought (picture above) is called limppu. It made from rye and added with molasses, so the flavor is between sweet and a bit sour, and it has unique aroma. My housemate told me that it’s a traditional bread here for Christmas and good to be eaten with butter… and it does! It also good with lox (cured salmon).
Limppu and salmon… and extra horseradish sauce (as you might see)
Leipajuusto with cloudberry jam
Other than fish and bread, Finland is also has their own cheese… and sometimes Finnish people eat meat or cheese… with jam, especially lingonberry (red one, Vaccinium vitis-idaea) or cloudberry (orange one, Rubus chamaemorus). One of the unique cheese here is called bread cheese or in Finn, leipajuusto. This cheese is made from colostrum rich milk of cow that already has calves, and strangely… it squeaks while bitten (in contact basically) with your teeth, so in America, they call it squeaky cheese. It tastes plain with some richness of cream but a bit salty (if preserved with brine). Normally eaten with cloudberry jam or lakkahillo and it gives the flavor quite colorful in your mouth!
Ah right… there are also special foods that can be eaten to commemorate some events. Like in February 5th, you can eat Runebergin torttu (FI: Runeberg torte, SW: Runebergs Tårta) to celebrate Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s (a poet) birthdate.
The torte is made from pastry flavored with almond and arrack or rum and in top of it, there is raspberry jam with ring of sugar icing. It is nice to eat as snack in any time!
Ah right, you can found A LOT of pizzeria and kebab store (normally both in one shop) here! You may found one who sell falafel (Lebanese fritter made of chickpea) or kebab pizza!
Well… that’s for now. I believe there will be more soon!
PS: If you are not eating pork, here’s some list to avoid… meals with these words in Finnish:
Sika (FI: pig), sianliha (FI: pork), kinkku (FI: ham), porsaan (FI: pork), porsaanliha (FI: pork meat), porsas (FI: pork), porssu (FI: piggy)
PPS: These stuffs is just okay:
Kala (FI: fish), kana (FI: chicken), pihvi (FI: beef), lammas (FI: lamb)
Finally… after passing some jet lag and some adaptational time here, now I’m got to go and ready to write my culinary experience here! But of course, placing some transitional meals here would be really nice, don’t you guys think so?
Okay then… on that January 21st night until January 22nd in the morning of Eastern European time, I made my long journey of more 10,000 Km (it’s ¼ of the globe!) with total around 16 hours of flight hours! For the first flight between Indonesia and Netherlands, I was in GA Flight 88 for more than 13 hours. Thank God for the awesome and cozy Boeing 777-300 ER and cool flight crews to flew it really smooth, in addition of there’s nobody seating next to me in the 3 seats (which in some moments become really sad), I could lean my feet and the rest of my body to sleep! And, you know what… I had my stomach really full up there!
For flying with GA 88, there are 2 segments of flight: CGK (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Banten-Jakarta, Indonesia) to SIN (Changi International Airport, Singapore), then SIN to AMS (Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Netherlands). By total, there are 4 sets of meals on my way to AMS.
About inflight food, I heard before they said that it cooked a bit spicier to balance the condition during high atmospherical lower pressure that affect human taste bud to make it sense less than normal.
From outside: Fruit cuts, bread and butter, and coffee cake.
Farfalle Fish and Prawn.
From CGK to SIN, the offers were chicken and rice or fish pasta, I took the fish pasta. It tastes nice, the pasta is not overcook, although the fish is too few. But the taste from the prawn make a lift on the dish. I also like the cake!
From SIN to AMS, there are 3 courses… well, actually 2 plus 1 snack time. The menu was given after we took off from SIN.
From outside: Brownies, bread and butter, fruit cuts.
Miso broth and guava juice.
Pan seared snapper with potato and veggies.
Option for this time, Hainan rice with grilled chicken or pan seared fish. I, again, took the fish. I like the fish and its mild flavored sauce. Although if it has more spice, it will be better… I remembered that people from Europe are tend to prefer milder flavor. For the brownies, it’s nice! They also offered the miso broth… well, broth… because there is no seaweed nor tofu inside. But I like it simple like that because it wouldn’t give much extra to my stomach, but it kept me warm (it’s -69ºC outside you know!).
Then… I took a long (supposedly) sleep time for more than 10 hours. I spent some of it to watch some series in the inflight TV. At the same time, the flight attendant gave me 2 bottles of mineral water and 2 smoked beef sandwich. I couldn’t get the picture because it’s dark.
Half an hour before landing to AMS, we had our final meals… the option: Western style omelette or chicken satay with rice. As I don’t like egg, I took the chicken rice.
From outside: Fruit cuts, yoghurt (YEAH!), croissant and butter… and miso broth.
I’m sorry… I was too hungry (really??) at the time.
The chicken satay is actually out of the skewer sticks and for me, the combination between it and the peanut sauce are more like curry (I tasted the flavor of cumin and some spices, unlike in simple peanut sauce). But I like curry, so this one is one good shot!
Then… we landed… I wanted to try some food over AMS, but my flight transfer schedule was too short.
But hey! I still had a flight from AMS to HEL (Helsinki-Vantaa Airport), KLM Flight 1167.
The warm box.
Once we were airborne, the flight attendants gave us this warm box… at first, I was hopping that it has no pork inside…
Smoked Turkey Pretzel Sandwich with Mascarpone and Melted Emmental Cheese
Lucky enough… it’s turkey… even better, it’s smoked turkey! Even better again… it’s on pretzel and bunch of mouth watering cheese!!
Hello… smoked turkey!
The taste? Fabulous!!
I got a glass of orange juice for my drink. Brrr… it’s cold outside. I was worried because I could see ice crystal forming in my window. But well… I had nice and warm food inside! And for extra, I got 2 of these lemon cake!
Yummm… although honestly I already felt quite lonely on the trip, feeling far away from my family, my friend… and my girlfriend, Ghea… I feel that my next 9 months of journey in Finland will be awesome! It’s for food… and science!
Okay, still… on this time I will continue to share my experience on my last visit on Singapore (November 21st-24th, 2013). Honestly, I don’t know how many of my friends in Indonesia (I’m not talking on my Food Squad whose stomach really adaptive from mild food of Japanese to spicy food of India and Middle East, to the heterogeneity of composition in African food) are suitable with Indian food. Even my juniors in my campus said that their olfactory sensors (nose… inside… thingy) and stomach are incapable to withstand. Their loss, I said.
Okay, now let’s get back to business, shall we? So I stayed in my friend’s place in Little India. Not really in Little India actually, but near to MacKenzie Road, so it’s only few long steps ahead to there. All I know since I was younger when I visited Little India, the area is vast. Of course the point of interests are the Indian market, their incenses are everywhere, Mustafa shop where you can buy souvenirs before you go back (both edible and inedible), and Indian food. As I love to eat, in the last 2 years, I’ve tagged several places to visit for food and one of those is Tekka Centre. It’s a big food court. You can find cuisines of multiple countries whose people usually come to Singapore, such as Malaysia, China, Sri Lanka, India, and of course my country of Indonesia.
I love Indian food. The cuisines of India never ceased to excite me (here I’m talking about Indian food because it’s the highlight about this topic). Once, I have some dialogue with a chef who at first cook French cuisine but he has a heel-face turn on Indian food because he interested on their concept of healthy food. He learned that in Indian cuisine, food that made to be offered has to possess a benevolence impact on human who ate it. So there’s thing from Hindi culture called Ayurveda which describes some methods and combinations to make foods are good to human body. For anything else, that made Indian food uses tons of spices for their preparations. For example, the chef said that in order to prepare a Tandoori chicken, at least of 8 to 14 spices are used to marinate the chicken meat for 12 hours before finishing process (Tandoori chicken is known to be roasted or fried).
Back on Tekka, I got there with Lanang and Rino and on that time I was so amazed when my friend, Lanang show me that Indian food there is divided into 2 regions: Northern Indian cuisine, and Souther Indian cuisine. Correct me if I wrong, Northern Indian foods are known to be spicier and hotter, while the Southern Indian’s are relatively mild and usually served with banana leaf for plating.
So, for lunch, I had SGD 25 for the budget. Then I looked around the food court and find something that tempted my eyes (eyes come first, then aroma, then taste, followed by responds from digestive system, this is my survival guide on culinary travel so far).
Looks crowded, isn’t it?
For main course, I ordered my favourite meal: Fish biryani and it costed SGD 4.5 at that time with portion almost twice amount in the same price I bought on my own country.
The Fish Biryani with Vegetable Curry.
Funny thing was, mentioning my last visit on the same restaurant, “Hanifa, The Biryani Specialist”. They used banana leaf for plating and on my latest visit they used paper. But okay, never mind. Thing that I like here is the flavour is milder, and the usage of saffron on rice is prominent. See the picture? See the coloration of the rice. Due known as the most pricey spice on the planet, utilisation on saffron us only in limited amount. Fortunately, in only addition of few amount, you can make more intense colour coverage on rice rather than when you use turmeric. I also like the additional veggie curry they gave in extra. It consists of lentils, or dhal in Hindi name. Recalling again, the fish biryani is SGD 4.5, you can add few cents to add extra Papadam cracker on it. Scoring for the fish biryani here is √√√√½ (4.5 out of 5).
Only for that day, I stretched my stomach capacity to try more. Following Lanang’s recommendation, I visited the Northern Indian food stand and ordered a Garlic Naan. As I always do, it’s fun to see the making of Naan. Unique it is, to see a man making a bread, patting it, and stick it on the wall of a giant clay pot with burning charcoal in the bottom, and once the Naan is ready, he uses a pick to get the Naan, brushes it with butter, added some add ons (in this matter, chopped garlic and cilantro leaf), slices the Naan, and bam! There you have it!
This is the “oven” for making Naan.
My Garlic Naan.
In the other hand, Lanang also bought the same menu, with roasted Chicken Tikka Masala.
Lanang’s Garlic Naan, Chicken Tikka Masala (the red one), and Curry Broth.
Personally, I prefer Naan than Prata. It’s easier to eat too. When you eat Prata, when you rip the bread, it’ll messed up if you don’t get use to it. In Naan, it won’t mess you up, only leave you some oil in your hand if they used liquified butter. Scoring for the Naan: √√√√√ (full score!).
The Chicken Tikka Masala is really spicy. I learned that similar process of marinating is used like when you making Chicken Tandoori (please correct me if I wrong, okay). But I like it!
Later, I’m still curious about some meals. I visited a stand named S.J. Tandoori. They also sell naan and curry. The other interesting fact here is they also sell snacks. There, I bought Butter Naan with Vegetable Curry and a unique Indian dessert, Gulab Jamun.
Butter Naan with Shallot Relish and Mint Chutney, and Vegetable Curry.
The Butter Naan here is smoother in appearance, and look! I got chopped shallot relish and… mint chutney! Perhaps I can pour it somewhere and see what’s gonna happened (lame reference to “3 Idiots”). And man, look at the curry. It’s nice, and loaded with goodness of lentils, potato, and some other vegetables on it. About the naan, actually I love the burn mark on it; indicating that it has been burned to perfection… to crispiness. But this one is okay, the butter… I believe they used Ghee (some kind of butter with lower water content), it has nice flavour on it. This one is SGD 1.50 (but I forget about price of the curry). Scoring for the Naan: √√√√½ (4.5 out of 5).
Now, I’ll show you this:
Bitten Gulab Jamun.
I consider that this SGD 2.00 dessert is one of the most unique sweets I ever ate. According on several recipes and literatures that I read, Gulab Jamun is made from a dough made from buffalo milk, sugar, then fried until brown, and served in liquid sugar and rose water syrup. A massive intake of calories, eh? It’s okay. Funny thing is, the Gulab Jamun I tried here is more flour-ish than milk in my taste buds. Plus, instead of using rose water, they use ginger water. It’s… zingy… warm… and sweet! And as they add more flour, (apparently) you can worry less about your calories intake.
As I done with my lunch, I made some walk with Rino in the neighbourhood area of Little India. I found a local retail selling Indian snacks.
It’s like… falafel… or veggie cookie, I guess.
There’s Dhokla, Samosa, Murukku.
I know Samosa, it’s fried flour dumplings with curry and vegetables on the inside. I haven’t tried Murukku, but it said that it’s made from rice and urad dal flour. Well, it worth to try next time. Dhokla… ah I’ve mention this one before.
Dhokla… it sounds like a bomb… (another reference to “3 Idiots”)
Dhokla is made from fermented rice and chickpea batter. It has consistency of sponge cake, very oily, and for me, it tastes like tofu. It usually served with green chilli, plus cilantro leaf and seeds.
Ah well, that’s for my Indian food experience! This time I cannot refer the name of the shops I visited because it will be too much and I didn’t keep the details as well. However, I’ll give you the place location on Foursquare:
Tekka Centre Food Court – The location is on Serangoon Road, near intersection of Sungei Road. If you walk from Selegie Road, go across MacKenzie Road, cross twice on Sungei Road (the road has 2 ways), then you managed to go to the left. You’ll see a vast food court. There you go! 4SQ link please click here.
Big Bites Restaurant – It’s on 70 Serangoon Road. From Tekka Centre, go to the northeast exit, as in your right is Serangoon Road, go to the north (go farther from the intersection). Walk for several buildings away then look on your right. Cross the road on a right place and go there. There you go! 4SQ link please click here.
Ah right, I recommend you if you go there by MRT, take the North-East Line (NE, the purple line) and stop in NE 7- Little India. Find the exit on MacKenzie road.
I hope you enjoy your reading, and as my experience fro Indian food is in learning as well, please do not hesitate to tell me for corrections and comments!
For 1 year, along my friends of my inner circle, the discussion about Indian food on Singapore is quite hot topic to be discussed. And from many references we got, one of the trending restaurant we used to mention is Al-Jilani. The restaurant which place so near to Nanyang Fine Art campus is renown to us (between me, Dwiki, Aji, and Rino). At first, I haven’t try any of their meals, but both Dwiki and Rino told me that this place is really good on their biryani rice.
And so, on my visit in November 21st-24th 2013, I visit the restaurant together with Rino and Lanang at night.
The atmosphere in the outdoor part of the restaurant.
Here, you can have some biryani rice with chicken, mutton, or seafood (prawn, fish, or squid as a selection), roti prata, noodle and rice meals, and Roti John (I haven’t tried it yet, because once I finished my meal, I got so full). For drink? A lot of choice you can make. In 5 PM to 5 AM (wow, the restaurant opens for 24/7!), they serve “Power Thai Style Sea Food” and Western Food like steak, burger, and fish n chips.
I ordered fish biryani, onion prata, and ice Horlicks for drink. While waiting, I observed my surroundings, as well have some nice chat with Lanang and Rino.
The sky was heavily cloudy tonight, and suddenly, drops of rain fallen from the sky. As our table was in outdoor, we swiftly prepared ourself to move. Until suddenly, they retract their hood and covered the area which tables are very close to the outside. Whoa, nice!
I also observed the area. Apparently this restaurant is a nice place for people (maybe also for NAFA student) to gathered around and have some quality time and fulfilling their appetite. No matter the outdoor place is separated by walking area for pedestrian, it never bothers the visitors at all. Moment later, our meal arrived.
Ice Horlicks (left), Fish Biryani (Right).
For your information, especially for those who are unfamiliar on Indian food: Some restaurant serves spicy biryani with spicy curry, while other serves with milder rice or vice versa. Here on Al-Jilani, the fish is spicy, I was so sweaty when I ate that. But aside from that, it’s really delicious! The amount of rice, and the size of the fish is giving me satisfaction on eating it. As I learned that this meal was probably spicy, I balanced my taste buds by ordering a sweet-milk-malt drink, Horlicks as my beverage. Next, the prata and the curry sauce is good, even apparently next time I will buy the plain one because I wasted the onion so much (it made my eyes watery while eating it and I was so full).
I have some good time talking and having dinner there with my friend! No wonder Dwiki suggested me to go there for breakfast and go home (to Jakarta) in the future. In the end, I went back to Rino’s living place on 10 pm SGT (Singapore General Time).
Ah, so full!
AW’s Rating: √√√√ (4 out of 5, for now… I haven’t try more of the meals).
AL-JILANI RESTAURANT PTE LTD.
786 Bencoolen St Middle Road, Singapore, 189637.
Food: SGD 2.00 – 7.00
Beverage: SGD 0.90 – 3.00
Opening Hours: 24 hours non stop.
Notes: Try their biryani and pratas!