The spirit of celebration right on your plate
Paper Edition | Page: 8
Garnish gives fresh touch to a plate of satay.
With the Idul Fitri celebration right around the corner, it’s a busy time in the kitchen.
At home, people will be busy preparing their signature traditional dishes — “a must” during the festivities. Favorite dishes, from opor ayam (coconut milk chicken curry), ketupat (rice cakes) and rendang (beef cooked in spices and coconut milk) as well as various cookies, top the list.
And for the special day, food presentation is key.
Femina magazine’s managing editor of food and living, Lila Muliani, said that table settings for Idul Fitri usually involve a buffet style to enable hosts to welcome large numbers of guests.
However, she said there is no harm in setting up a sit-down style dinner, as long as you have the resources to do so.
“You can experiment with garnishings for sit down dinners, as you can decorate each plate. If you choose a buffet to serve dinner, the focus will be on the on the tableware,” she said.
Lila said it would be helpful to decide on a theme for the Idul Fitri party to serve as a thread which will connect all the decorations.
Currently, she said party hosts prefer to use traditional-themed buffets. In this case, they can explore traditional Indonesian table settings by using clay pots or rattan plates with banana leaves.
“For a touch of traditional ambiance for your buffet, go with a simple white table cloth and spread a long batik cloth down the middle. You can add interest with young coconut leaves and Indonesian flowers,” she said.
You can also decorate your buffet table with high vases and flowers, but use short vases and flowers if you are having a sit-down dinner.
Lila said putting fresh flowers on the table can beautify the overall look, but you should be careful with the selection of the flowers.
“Basically, don’t use flowers that are too fragrant, because people who do not like that will feel disturbed. Orchids with some green leaves or some lilies are a lovely look.”
Although garnishing food with a buffet set up is limited, there are some simple tricks that will add a bit of beauty.
Lila says we should experiment with red chillies or leeks that can be sprinkled on top of the dishes.
The trick to create curly red chillies is to cut them open and take out the seeds. Then slice them lengthways as thinly as possible, dip the slices in cold ice water, or put them in a bowl of ice water, and keep them in the refrigerator for a while. The same technique can be used to curl leeks.
“You can also garnish meat or fish with fried orange leaves or basil. They give a delicious aroma and are very crispy when fried,” she said.
Cooking show host Bara Pattiradjawane offered a tip for making simple garnishes, such as with tomatoes and bean sprouts – something that would not go to waste after dinner.
“I don’t like making something that cannot be eaten and is later thrown away. Bean sprouts and tomatoes can be made into soup, so there is no waste,” he says.
With the food and garnishes ready, it’s important to have fun with setting up your table for the big day.
“If you have many guests and run out of plates, bring out your old collection. You don’t have to provide matching plates,” Lila said. “Be playful and feel free to mix and match your tableware.”