I grew up in Alphen aan den Rijn, a city near university city Leiden. We lived close to a quarter inhabited by Moluccans. My Dutch-Indonesian father went there often to meet friends. Once a year he was sent on a mission: obtaining three boxes filled with kue cucur, a cookie made of fried rice flour mixed with palm sugar. Thick in the middle, thin at the edges. A snack with the looks of an UFO. Not exactly the most beautiful cookie on earth, but its taste and smell is divine, especially when it’s warm: exotic cinnamon flavor. The fact that it wasn’t available in shops, but could only be bought ‘illegally’ at the home of an old Moluccan lady added to the flavour of the kue cucur. Last week I found out that one of my favorite takeaways and restaurants, Toko Bandung, was selling THE cookie of my youth. I stared for minutes at the FB-picture where I saw three cookies in a row with a bit of liquid gula djawa on top. Saturday I was reunited with my ‘elementary school sweet hearts’. A trip down memory lane. A real good one.
Kue cucur, €1.65
Pieter Callandlaan 333-335, West (Osdorp)
+31 (0) 20 619 91 03
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 9am-5pm
My uncle Herbert (81) would fit in a fairy tale. This mini man has bright blue-grey eyes, some hair and a high voice. He always has three euro’s in his pocket – just in case he meets someone who needs money. This Dutch-Indonesian man loves to explain in detail how I should prepare a goat, create telor asin (extremely salty duck eggs) or make sambal tomaat, a mix of sambal oelek – ‘home-made, of course’ – and cherry tomatoes. This fresh chilli based paste is made to match with the martabak of Toko Bandung, an Indonesian takeaway (est. 1962) on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Some say the martabak was born in Yemen, others say this stuffed pancake originated in Saudi-Arabia. Anyway, after Arabia this snack conquered India and Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia. There are sweet and savoury martabaks. Right now I’m talking about a perfect savoury one: an ultra thin ‘crêpe’ made of eggs filled with minced beef, onion, leak, egg and curry powder. Toko Bandung also sells lovely sweet snacks (banana-coconut pudding) and one of the most challenging dishes I know: a salty, bitter and bloody spicy combination of papaya leaves and tiny fishes.
Martabak, one, €1.35
Pieter Calandlaan 333-335, New West (Osdorp)
+31 (0) 20 619 91 03
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9.30am-6.30pm, Saturday 9am-5pm