Authentic Delicacies From A Different Time
The new menu at The Dharmawangsa Jakarta honors memories of a different time in colonial Java.
IN ORDER TO prepare for the festive Independence Day celebration program at The Dharmawangsa Jakarta, Chef Felix Budisetiawan and his team recently went on a culinary road trip to visit towns and villages along the Northern coast of Java. His mission was to experience dishes unique to each area and to recreate them as part of the hotel’s new Indonesian food offering. The 3-day journey included stops at Cirebon, Tegal, Pekalongan, Pemalang, Semarang, Ambarawa, Magelang, Solo, and Banyumas, and some of the resulting dishes were Nasi Pati Gandul, Sroto Sukaraja, Nasi Jamblang, and a revisit of The Dharmawangsa Jakarta’s ever-popular Nasi Liwet.
The first thing you’ll notice about this dish that originates from Cirebon is that there’s as many as seven side dishes (nine if you count the kerupuk and sambal) in one serving. Nasi Jamblang dates back to the colonial era, specifically when Dutch East Indies Governor General Daendels ordered the construction of factories and the famous Anyer-Batavia-Cirebon highway. It is said that it all started with one elderly couple’s consistent kindness of packing lunch for the Indonesian workers. The elderly couple was poor and put together what they could from whatever was available, and so the side dishes were of various kinds. Fragrant teak leaves were used to preserve the rice, since the lunch was packed in the morning.
At The Dharmawangsa Jakarta, the legendary Nasi Jamblang consists of sweet beef, fried balled beef in sambal, crispy fried tempeh, spiced eggs, chili seasoned tofu, Balakutak (squid cooked in its ink), fermented forest mushrooms, traditional white crackers, and another sambal.
What makes this a sroto instead of the conventional soto (a broth-heavy dish with meat, vegetables, and sambal) is how the broth has an added sambal, which is a mix of garlic, shallot, crushed peanuts, and chilies, and this makes the broth extra spicy. The traditional way to enjoy the Sroto Sukaraja is to put in a handful of crushed crackers, which will absorb the rich broth and even out the spiciness. Added freshness comes from sprinkled celery.
What’s in the Sroto Sukaraja? Slices of free range chicken, bean sprouts, shallots, served with rice cakes, fried tempeh, and some more sambal with peanut and shallots.
Nasi Pati Gandul
“Hailing from Pati, Central Java, this dish’s signature flavor comes from the beef, which is similar in taste to coconut milk beef, combined with a special kind of tempeh.” The thing with tempeh is that there are two common ways to serve them: crisp to the bite or rich and soft, deep-fried style. The tempeh in Nasi Pati Gandul is served in between the above – crisp on the outside, but textured enough for you to taste the softer insides. The only way to accomplish this is to use beans from Pati, where the climate and soil condition makes it possible for them to be processed as necessary.
Nasi Pati Gandul plates coconut milk cooked chicken and rice, with an added side dishes of sweet beef jerky, seasoned eggs, the above-mentioned tempeh, sambal, and rice with dried shallots soaked with a broth of offal and coconut milk reduction.
The Nasi Liwet has been an iconic dish at The Dharmawangsa Jakarta ever since the hotel’s grand opening back in 1998. The hotel brought in a very experienced home cook straight from Java to cook up the Nasi Liwet each evening using exactly the same natural ingredients as she used in her village. “The key to creating our very popular Nasi Liwet has always been high-quality ingredients and the right kind of rice,” according to Chef Felix.
The Nasi Liwet plates cooked free range chicken, half-sliced seasoned eggs, diced labu siam or chayote in coconut milk, sweet seasoned tempeh, cooked chicken liver, crackers and sambal.
The Dharmawangsa Jakarta
Jalan Brawijaya No. 26, Kebayoran Baru
T: +62 21 725 8181