Scene & Heard: Arabian Nights
Paper Edition | Page: 24
Come Ramadhan and the city is treated to a month-long food festival of cuisines hailing from Middle Eastern and North African countries, which are also traditional centers of Islam.
In the fruit section, dates of all kinds are available on store shelves, from Tunisian to Egyptian ones. Containing high vitamin C and fiber content, the dried fruit is touted for boosting the body’s immune system. For perfect replenishment after a day of fasting, a glass of date juice at Sindbad (yes, that is the actual spelling on the restaurant’s signboard) on Jl. KS Tubun, West Jakarta.
In the dining area, the Hotel Ritz Carlton Pacific Place has two guest chefs, Ismail Donmez and Serkan Imre from Istanbul, who are presenting a selection of Middle Eastern and local delicacies. Another taste of Arabian delights will be available at the Alila in Pecenongan.
Jakartans are also sitting down for North African cuisine, with many places offering Egyptian food promotions. Among the hotels and restaurants offering Egyptian delicacies are the Pullman Jakarta Central Park, which has flown in chef Ayman Ahmed Ahmed from Dubai; Keraton at The Plaza, with Chef Magdy Mohamed Sayed from Egypt doing the honors; and La Moda Café in Plaza Indonesia that offers Egyptian favorites for iftar (breaking the fast). Some of the Egyptian dishes on offer are lamb ouzi (roasted lamb and rice platter) and kofta (Egyptian-style meatballs with tomato sauce).
When it comes to Middle Eastern and Northern African dishes, most people think of red meat (usually lamb) and strong spices. Yuanita, a private employee, said her favorite Middle Eastern food was nasi kebuli (Arabian fried rice with spices).
“It’s so delicious that I can’t stop eating,” said Yuanita, who had already attended a breaking-of-the-fast event offering nasi kebuli last weekend.
For others who find the flavor of lamb too strong and gamey, a food event at La Piazza Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, may be a more acceptable alternative. The mall is holding an Arabian Night FoodFest entitled “Morocco” until Aug. 12, featuring various Indonesian dishes with a Middle Eastern touch, such as Nasi Briyani Sisca Soewitomo (briyani rice a la TV cook Sisca Soewitomo), Nasi Kebuli Putra Sriwijaya and Sate Domba Afrika (African-style lamb). +Tifa Asrianti
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