Holy Islamic Ramadan is the ninth month of the muslim calender lasting for an entire 30 days when believers go without food or water from dawn to dusk to show their trust to the God. It is a time of worship and contemplation. However, the sick or travelling muslims, women and children in certain conditions are exempted.
Traditionally, muslims break their fast with prayers, a meal called Iftar and dates. During this time, entrepreneurial street hawkers set up stalls in bazaars and markets selling delicious Indonesian dishes like rendang (beef), ayam percik (chicken), satay (kebabs) and many rich coconut based desserts.
My muslim friend, an first-class restaurateur in downtown Jakarta, is kind to share with me some good recipes. I picked out two main dishes and one dessert recipe which I found easy to prepare as the ingredients used are available at most supermarkets.
For the first dish, vegetable stir fry, you’ll need:
1 square of firm tofu, cut into bite sized cubes and deep fry
Some shredded white cabbage, 1 sliced carrot and about 200 grams of french beans, cut into lengths.
2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 finely chopped onion, some cooking oil for frying, salt for seasoning and kicap manis (a kind of sweet sauce, available at Asian aisles of your local supermarket. There’s 2 types, don’t choose the one that says “Masin”. It just means salty in Indonesian language.
Wash the vegetables and drained dry. In a heated frying pan, add cooking oil, garlic, onion and fry to fragrant. Be careful not to let garlic burnt. Next, add carrot slices first as they take a little longer to cook. Now, add the rest of the vegetables followed by tofu cubes.
To season, add about 1 tablespoon of sauce (according to your taste, not too much as carrot gives a natural sweetness to the dish) and a dash of salt.
The next dish, Ayam goreng is absolute favourite among the members of my family, the kids simply love it!
4 pieces of chicken drumsticks (or any other parts, breast tends to be tougher and dry)
4 pieces of garlic cloves and shallots each
Half teaspoon of turmeric (just a little to give a rich, custard-like yellow colour) and coriander powder each; half teaspoon of salt
10 cups of cooking oil for frying. I like to use canola oil as it is lower in saturated fats and has a higher smoke point that retains the flavour of the food you fry.
Pound or grind garlic and shallots till fine. Combine this with turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt.
Rub all over the drumsticks and marinate for about 20 minutes.
Heat oil in deep frying pan over high flame till very hot. Reduce heat to medium, add in the drumsticks slowly. If you are frying more than four, make sure the food is surrounded by enough hot bubbling oil and always keep frying the temperature. If you add too much food in little oil, the temperature will drop and you’ll end up with greasy and soggy drumsticks. To avoid any splatters and kitchen clean ups, dab lightly on kitchen towel first. Deep fry for 4 to 5 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Enjoy these two dishes with plain rice.
For dessert, this highly recommended recipe Kuih Pisang is a must to end off the meal.
You’ll need about 4 ripe bananas (pisang raja) or more, 750ml of coconut milk (just buy a 250ml package at your local supermarket and add 500ml of water to it), 100 grams of green bean flour, 225 grams of sugar and a pinch of salt.
Steam the bananas for about 5 minutes and slice into 1 cm thick when coled.
Put flour in a non stick pot and blend with half the coconut milk. Mix the remaining coconut milk with sugar and salt over low heat until completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and pour flour mixture into this, stirring all the while over gentle heat or it will burn.
To serve, put bananas in a shallow dish and pour coconut mixture over and refrigerate. It is best enjoyed chilled.