The spice of life via Indonesian cuisine
As if the buffet in Heat, Edsa Shangri-La’s all-day dining restaurant, isn’t sumptuous enough, the hotel is spicing up its already extensive smorgasbord with some well-loved Indonesian dishes.
Spicing up, in this case, can be taken literally because Indonesian dishes are anything but bland. Hot chilies being a mainstay in Indonesian cuisine, nearly every dish spews fiery flavors on the taste buds—from the mango pickles to the fried beef to the grilled squid with green chili.
Even the mixed fruits with brown sugar sauce, which we tasted at the opening of the ongoing Indonesian food fest, was not only sweet; it also held its own by delivering its share of blazing heat.
After all, Indonesia is the original Spice Islands, the elusive source of exotic spices that Portuguese explorers desperately set sail to find centuries ago. It’s because of these spices that the West discovered the East, and the course of history changed forever.
Not that there’s no diversity in Indonesian cuisine. According to guest chef Didin Saepudin of Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta, there are gradations of heat among the 18,307 islands that comprise the Indonesian archipelago. While they all use hot chilies, the dishes in Java, for example, are a little bit sweet, while those in Sumatra are spiked with a lot more chilies. Other condiments widely used in Indonesian cuisine include lemon leaf, nutmeg, garlic, candlenuts, galangal, sambal and cumin.
Here’s a recipe for one of the tamer Indonesian dishes: pisang goreng (fried banana). There are variations in cooking it, with some recipes using whole bananas. This recipe from Edsa Shangri-La, however, uses mashed bananas, making it similar to our own maruya. And, true to the spirit of the Spice Islands, it’s sprinkled not just with sugar but also with cinnamon.
Berjalan-Jalan, the buffet of Indonesian food, will be part of Edsa Shangri-La’s lunch and dinner buffets until March 20. For reservations, call tel. 6338888, local 2777.
Pisang Goreng (Indonesian-style Banana Fritters)
- 5 ripe bananas (lakatan variety)
- 2 eggs
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- ½ c water
- 3-4 c cooking oil
- ¼ c sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
Mash the bananas coarsely, using a fork or a potato masher. Set aside.
Beat the eggs lightly. In a mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the flour and the water. Stir until smooth. Blend in the mashed bananas.
Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Pour the banana mixture by ¼ c measures into the hot oil. Cook over medium heat until the bottom sides are golden brown; then turn over and cook the other side similarly. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels (or absorbent paper).
Combine sugar and cinnamon powder and sprinkle on the banana fritters before serving. Makes around 10 fritters.
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To maximize the cooking oil, you can double the recipe, using twice the amount of bananas, flour, eggs and water. This will yield around 20 banana fritters.
Make sure the oil is hot enough before frying the fritters. To test the oil, drop a small piece of bread on the oil. If it sizzles, the oil is ready to be used for frying.