The Indonesian Gastronomy Association

Instagram Post 12/12/2018

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The Indonesian Gastronomy Association (IGA) is a collective of Indonesian expats who share a passionate interest in nourishing and promoting Indonesian culture and businesses in New York City and beyond. They foster their mission through monthly events, each with its own distinct focus, the annual Independence Day celebration and an Indonesian fashion show as recent examples. Fortunately for those of us who crave the cuisine, the principal spotlight always shines on a wide assortment of small batch and homemade authentic food from a variety of regions in Indonesia. Two standouts from last weekend’s event:

[1] Delicious handmade noodles with a perfect chew and ideal thickness, spicy chicken, bouncy meatballs swimming in a light broth, crispy crunchiness on the side (and don’t forget the egg!) from Rebecca at Mamika’s Homemade Cuisine, her Indonesian catering service in NYC. @mamika.etc

[2] Bertha from IGA offered up this Bubur Kampiun, a porridge (bubur) with a base layer of rice flour pudding, topped with plantains in coconut milk, glutinous rice balls and palm sugar custard. She told me this is sometimes served as a sweet to break the Ramadan fast and sometimes simply served as breakfast. Since kampiun means champion in Indonesian, I guess this is the Breakfast of Champions!

I attend these events regularly, so expect to see more posts soon. Follow IGA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IGAUSA2018/ to learn when their next event will take place. You don’t want to miss it.
 
 

UNAMA

Instagram Post 12/7/2018

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The United Nations African Mothers Association (UNAMA) holds an annual fundraising event that takes the form of a buffet luncheon featuring home cooked food representing numerous African nations. Their mission includes improving the socio-economic conditions of women and children in Africa as well as promoting its diverse, rich culture. Held this year at the Consulate of Nigeria, we enjoyed dishes from Burkina Faso 🇧🇫, the Republic of Cameroon 🇨🇲, Côte d’Ivoire 🇨🇮, Kenya 🇰🇪, Tanzania 🇹🇿, Nigeria 🇳🇬 and many more.

This sunbathed plate held a few examples of chicken, salmon, shrimp, couscous, rice, and potato preparations; the second photo provides a closer inspection of an artfully garnished couscous from Libya; the third shows Seswaa (shredded beef) from Botswana, Lamb Basquaise (stew) from Cameroon, and more of that sensually scented couscous.
 
 

Putri Mandi

Instagram Post 10/24/2018

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As long as I’m on a sweet roll, here’s one more from the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens: a thick, creamy cloud of coconut pudding, not too sweet (why does everybody I know insist that’s somehow a good thing?) with a glutinous rice flour pandan-fortified spheroid floating atop.

The second photo shows the bisected ball revealing its grated coconut/palm sugar core. The orb was hard before I warmed it up after which it surrendered into a more palatable chewiness that worked nicely with the bed of coconut fluff.

It’s called Putri Mandi which means Bathing Princess.

I didn’t ask.
 
 

Serabi vs Cucur: Battle of the Indonesian Kue

Instagram Post 10/23/2018

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So many kue, so little time, but I was determined to get to the bottom of the puzzle. On a recent visit to the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens, I had purchased some kue (diminutive Indonesian sweets/snacks) from Pecel Ndeso’s booth, but I misidentified them in an earlier post. So I returned, and thanks to extensive discussion with the vendor and then another vendor who sold the same snack under a different name and my Indonesian friends @nigelsie (aka @hellomoonman), @fefeang (owner of the Taste of Surabaya booth at the bazaar), but especially to @erm718 for her detailed descriptions, I think I’ve got it now, to wit:

The first photo is serabi. @erm718 writes, “Serabi making is very similar to American pancake making, where the batter is spread onto a lightly oiled pan, but not flipped.” (See the browned bottom of the kue in the lower right of the photo.) “Traditionally clay pans are used for serabi, but now metal pans are also used.” Holes bubble up on top as the serabi cooks. Variations exist distinguished by the thickness of the kue and the toppings; the one in this photo, serabi basah (basah means wet), came accompanied by a bag of coconut milk sweetened with palm sugar. Thicker than a typical pancake and with a light, fluffy, almost fine-crumb cakey texture, the flavor was enhanced by the addition of a little pandan essence (that’s where the green tinge comes from). Warm, anointed by the sweet coconut milk, the taste intensified; definitely a treat.

The kue shaped like a flying saucer is cucur. @erm718 writes, “Cucur’s batter is poured into lots of hot oil and deep fried; cucur is eaten as is.” There’s a bit of a chewy quality to it, its puffy, airy interior adding to the sensory pleasure; it benefitted from a little warming as well.

Thanks for your help, Elika!

Lots more to come from the bazaar….
 
 

Pecel Ndeso’s Indonesian Kue

Instagram Post 9/29/2018

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Here’s the first in a series from another visit to the monthly NY Indonesian Food Bazaar at St. James Episcopal Church, 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. These are kue (diminutive Indonesian sweets/snacks) from Pecel Ndeso’s booth; the disk-shaped twosome are serabi solo. There are many regional variants on serabi; most are made with rice flour but some use wheat flour, and most call for coconut milk. Green almost always implies pandan flavor, while brown indicates palm sugar. The cutaway view reveals the puffy, airy interior.

One of my all-time favorite snacks is anything that involves sticky rice pressed and sweetened with coconut milk. The Indonesian fulfillment of this wish is wajik, which I posted about on 8/16. Usually diamond-shaped (wajik is the Indonesian word that describes a diamond or rhombus shape), this sweet, green blocky rendition is infused with pandan and contains bits of jackfruit, another weakness of mine.

More to come from the bazaar….
 
 

Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique Day

Instagram Post 9/13/2018

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The annual event celebrating the culture of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique took place on August 26, 2018 at St. Andrew’s Playground in Brooklyn, NY. The food of the Caribbean state is what drew me in, of course, and I had set my sights on “Oil Down”, Grenada’s national dish, a stew with as many variations as there are chefs who make it. Chicken, salted meat, and salted fish all variously factor in, and expect to find dumplings, breadfruit, plantain, yams, corn and other veggies as well, but the essential common ingredient is coconut milk that suffuses everything with an indescribable richness. It’s all cooked down until only the coconut oil remains at the bottom of the pot, hence the name. The greens adorning the top are callaloo, flavorful taro leaves, a traditional component of the dish.

[Photo #2] The sign at a nearby vendor read “manicou”; if you’re concerned that manicou might be some strange sort of foodstuff, don’t worry. It’s just their word for possum. 😉

But seriously, if you’ve never tried it, it’s worth doing once. As with any kind of meat, the taste varies from one muscle to another, and this recipe was well-sauced making it difficult to disentangle the piquant flavors of the gravy and the meat itself, so it defies description; suffice it to say it was unctuous. And it didn’t taste like chicken.
 
 

Reminder: Our Ethnojunket to Brooklyn’s Little Odessa is Now Boarding!

There’s a new ethnojunket scheduled for Saturday, September 15, 2018 in which we’ll sample the delights of Russian and Former Soviet Union cuisine along Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn’s Little Odessa. The cost is $70 per person (cash only, please) and includes a veritable cornucopia of food so bring your appetite! You won’t leave hungry, and you will leave happy! Here’s an example from our last tour.

Tula Pryaniki (тульский пряник) are sweet honey cakes characterized by a raised imprint on top – in this case тульский identifying Tula, the city in Russia from which they hail, and its coat of arms – covered with a sugary glaze to bring out the image. I’ll let the packaging speak for itself:

лакомка – the brand name, “Gourmet”
с фруктовой начинкой – “with fruit filling”, in this case apple and apricot
вкусный, сытный – “delicious, satisfying”
ароматный – “flavorful”
содержит мёд – “contains honey”

What more can I say? For more information and to sign up for Saturday’s ethnojunket, send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section below (or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com).

(And remember, subscribing to ethnojunkie.com to receive updates about the latest posts and upcoming tours is a piece of cake. Or easy as pie, perhaps. Just use the Subscribe button on any page!)
 
 

Allerton Avenue International Food Festival – Part 2

Instagram Post 8/30/2018

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More Scenes from the Allerton Avenue International Food Festival in the Bronx.

Empanadas Monumental had a stand right outside their shop at 752 Allerton Ave. Based on the cuisine of Santiago in the Dominican Republic, their wares ventured well beyond empanadas; this quipe is a good example. Quipes are made from bulgur (par-cooked cracked wheat) stuffed with meat and/or cheese and deep fried. If the word sounds familiar, it’s based on the similar Middle Eastern dish, kibbeh.

The second photo reveals the interior of one of their many empanada varieties, pierna ahumada, smoked pork with cheese.
 
 

Allerton Avenue International Food Festival

Instagram Post 8/25/2018

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Scenes from the Allerton Avenue International Food Festival in the Bronx.

It was a treat to see Mama G African Kitchen at the festival. I’ve written about one of their brick and mortar restaurants (3650A White Plains Road in the Bronx) here and here so I don’t need to repeat how much I like their food; I’ll just show you what we got:

Waakye – you may see variant spellings but the pronunciation is wah-chay (rhymes with watch-way) and it’s Ghana’s culinary claim to fame. Similar to West Indian rice and peas, it’s made with rice and black eyed peas or cowpeas; the characteristic reddish-purplish-brown color can come from dried red sorghum leaves, millet leaves, or even baking soda. Yellow gari (ground cassava) on the side.

Jollof rice – There’s a keen rivalry among West African countries over whose version is the best but tomato paste figures heavily into all of them.

Fried turkey (the part that goes over the fence last – yum!), plantain, and fried croaker submerged under spicy sauce.

Delicious!
 
 

Paterson’s Peruvian Parade

Instagram Post 8/23/2018

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On the last Sunday of July, Paterson, NJ, plays annual host to its exuberant Peruvian Parade and festival celebrating the country’s culture and national heroes. Here are some photos from this year’s culinary extravaganza in “Little Lima”, home of America’s largest Peruvian community, starting with dessert – because life is short:

[1 & 2] Picarones: Peru’s answer to the doughnut, served with a variety of sweet sauces.
[3] Two of my favorite ice cream flavors sharing a single cup: lúcuma and cherimoya with big hunks of fruit. It’s difficult to find fresh lúcuma locally but the frozen pulp is easy to come by in Latin American markets. Cherimoya, sometimes called custard apple, can be found fresh without much ado – frozen pulp is also readily available. If you have a blender, buy the frozen pulp and try your hand at making a batido!
[4] Anticuchos. Grilled skewers of tender, marinated beef heart always accompanied by boiled potato; Peruvian street food at its finest. Don’t be repelled by the fact that it’s heart – it’s just another cut of beef, and a particularly delicious one at that. Try it, you’ll like it.
[5] Causa, another Peruvian favorite. This cold dish takes many forms, but the base is always seasoned, mashed yellow potatoes. From there, it’s layered with tuna, salmon, or chicken salad, olives and other vegetables, and topped with another layer of sunshiny potatoes.
[6] Ceviche. I saw easily a half dozen different versions at the festival; stands offered divergent types of fish and each had its own custom recipe for leche de tigre, the ceviche marinade.

Mark your calendars for next year’s event!