Rock Your Roti

If you’re in the mood for roti kip, you owe it to yourself to go to Roopram Roti, a household name within the Surinamese community in The Netherlands. Mr J. Roopram started this small chain of restaurants/takeaways in Rotterdam and now has branches in The Hague and two in Amsterdam. The one in the eastern part of the city is the largest and definitely my favourite. It’s always very much alive – expect to queue even at unexpected times – and you have a panoramic view of the kitchen scene. Cooks making their famous roti, Indian flat bread, and working in perfect harmony with the ‘lords of the chickens’ to guarantee the fastest service possible. Not that waiting is dreadful. Watch whole families enjoying their food, listen to Bollywood tunes, soak up the scent of spices. Before you know it, your roti kip is ready to be attacked by you: the flattest and tastiest bread in town and mildly masala spiced tender chicken parts, potatoes and asparagus beans. Comfort food par excellence.

Roopram Roti
Roti kip, one portion, €7.50
Eerste Swindenstraat 4, East. Other branches: see website
+31 (0) 20 693 29 02
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 2pm-9pm

Mellow Yellow Chicken

Mark Law from That Dam Guide once asked me what is was like to grow up in a Dutch-Indonesian family. Well Mark, it’s damn tasty! Every day my mother used to make fabulous dishes by using home-made boemboes (pastes of spices). She sat on her knees with a mortar in front of her and used a pestle to crush exotic spices. The wok was her other ‘weapon’. She used it to fry noodles, prawn crackers or corn patties. I loved the scent in her kitchen, especially when she was preparing beef stews or dishes with coconut milk. As a kid I took everything for granted. Now I realize I should have appreciated her work more. I will never ever be able to cook as well as she did, but I know where to find the tastes and scent of my youth. To me takeaway Terang Boelang feels like I’m back in her kitchen again. Behind the corner you look straight into the kitchen of sweet Mr. Taufik Rachman and his wife. If you’re lucky, they are cooking. Inhale the scent and choose one of the highlights: ajam paniki, chicken in a mild coconut-lemongrass-ginger sauce.

Terang Boelan
Ajam paniki, 100 g, €2.75
Tweede Lindendwarsstraat 3, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 20 620 99 74
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 3pm-9pm, Sunday 3.30pm-9pm

Wrap & Roll Chicken

foto-2At first glance the mobile shop in front of vintage store Petticoat seems to be a recipe for disaster. The moody Vietnamese boss and her shy assistant sell bara (fried ‘donuts’ of peas), roti wraps, noodles, spring rolls and bapao (steamed bread filled with meat). On top of it they sell French fries and fresh orange juice. Since you can buy just about everything edible, you run the risk of ending up with nothing good at all. Two months ago I ordered a special spring roll – only because a friend practically forced me to. After my first bite I was all smiles within a second: good stuff! Just like other ‘compatriotes’ this spring roll is thinner than a Chinese one. Unlike other Vietnamese spring rolls in Holland, this roll has a filling with an attitude: rich in ingredients, full of character. Behind the thin crispy ‘suit’ you’ll find cabbage, rice vermicelli and carrots. Usually these vegetables reign, but not here! In this snack it is all about chicken. Thanks to the right amount of pepper this roll tastes superb. Eat this wrapped chicken pure, with a sweet-and-sour sauce or with a little bit of an unforgettable chili-based sauce: the sambal badjak extra heet (extra spicy) of Toko Joyce in Chinatown, Nieuwmarkt 38.

Mobile snack shop
Vietnamese special chicken roll, one, € 1.50
Market at the Lindengracht, in front of number 99 (Petticoat), City Centre (Jordaan)
Each Saturday 9am-5pm