Rendang goes Italian

The sky seems to be the limit for rendang. You can find this Indonesian beef stew next to plain rice, inside a croquette or … as a ravioli stuffing. Don’t go all tempo doeloe on me now. The good old times in Dutch Indonesia are over. Just have faith in rendang. No matter what situation, this dish can handle it. Besides that this ravioli is made by Holy Ravioli, the A-Team of Dutch ravioli makers. The members of this takeaway have taken the standard spinach-ricotta version to the next level – their Thai-style prawn ravioli is so ‘oh yeah’. One of them has a Dutch-Indonesian grandma who taught him how to prepare rendang. Do you think he would dare to transform her recipe into a mediocre dish? Adoe, no way! Let me tell you this: the guy did a great job. The rendang is not as spicy as it usual is, but it has a more elegant, undeniable exotic taste. It’s made to match with the firm ravioli and the somewhat sweet coconut sauce on top. He should ask his grandmother for more recipes. I think ravioli with ikan pepesan could be the next big thing.

Holy Ravioli
Ravioli with rendang, 350 gr, €9.00, coconut sauce, 200 ml, € 3.00
Jan Pieter Heijestraat 88, West
+31 (0) 6 11 18 71 12
Opening hours: Sunday-Tuesday 1pm-9pm, Wednesday-Saturday 11am-9pm

I Want Candy

Once I dreamt of a career as a police officer. I would work in the Red Light District, at the police office in the Warmoesstraat. I would be the enemy of all pimps and hustlers in town. Well, I did study criminal law, but I’m not exactly fighting crime right now. Where did I go wrong? Anyway, I still like the Warmoesstraat. The blend of seedy characters, kinky stores, quirky coffee shops and genuinely amazed tourists fascinates me. In this Pulp Fiction-like setting one of our local heroes, top chocolatier Kees Raat, runs Metropolitan. Where? Follow the scent of freshly baked waffles. Next to these beauties you’ll find ice cream, pies, bonbons and candy. Everything is homemade, using fresh organic ingredients. Most of the products are based on raw cocoa beans straight out of the Dominican Republic. In Amsterdam Kees turns these beans into chocolate. The dark chocolate marshmallows he sells are a soft introduction to the taste of this chocolate. Buy a box of it as a make-up present. Love guaranteed. P.S. Don’t leave this place without a sniff of cocoa in the back.

Dark chocolate marshmallows, one box, €4.95
Warmoesstraat 135, Centre (Red Light District)
+31 (0) 20 330 19 55
Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday and Sunday 9am-midnight, other 3 days 9am-1am

Soul Soup

Some think it’s cuckoo to put rice in your soup. Well, people from Suriname and my fellow Dutch Indonesians completely disagree. My family pops rice in every soup; in green pea soup, in brown bean soup. A scoop of rice turns a soepie into A Meal. Home-made chicken soup is manna to sick souls. When I was feverish my mother used to serve me saoto ajam (chicken soup), with rice of course. To Dutch Indonesians saoto is the holy grail of soups. The broth of this Javanese soup is powerful, but the flavours of lemon grass, lime leaves, koenjit (turmeric) and ginger make the soup fresh and elegant too. It’s usually served with chopped celery, fried onions, beans sprouts and boiled eggs. Close to where I live is a great Surinamese-Javanese takeaway, Warung SuriKitchen, where I buy my chicken satay and rich saoto mama-style. Based on broth of a real chicken – no way, chicken fillet – including the right spices and the sides the soup deserves. Try it with the yellow paste of Madame Jeanette peppers. It’s about as evil as it looks like.

Warung SuriKitchen
Saoto ajam, one big portion, €4.50
Tweede Nassaustraat 38, West (Westerpark)
+31 (0) 20 475 10 21
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 3pm-10pm

Gentle is this Rice

Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures and flavours: Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Thai. This diversity is reflected in the menu of the best Malaysian restaurant in town: Nyonya. Hainanese chicken rice, roti canai, an Indian-influenced type of pancake served with curry sauce, and fried rice Pattaya-style are all served to the hungry – mostly Asian – crowd. The national dish of Malaysia, nasi lemak, resembles my favourite Indonesian rice dish: nasi uduk, mildly spiced coconut rice. The Malaysian version is as gentle as its Indonesian equivalent. It is served with sweet-and-sour vegetables, tiny fried fishes, mighty crispy chicken wings and a bit of Nyonya’s famous home-made sambal belachan, a spicy relish based on trassi, a shrimp paste with a peculiar smell. It takes the sweet, hard-working couple that runs this place hours to make this chilli paste. For one bit of sambal, the two have to crush kilo’s of chilli’s. They work in a kitchen where most people would get claustrophobic. The superb quality of their food proves that you don’t need a huge high-tech kitchen to shine. No skills, no glory.

Nasi lemak, one portion, €12.00
Kloveniersburgwal 38, Centre (Chinatown)
+31 (0) 20 422 24 47
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 1pm-9.46pm (kitchen closes at 9pm)