A unique culinary journey at the Indonesian food festival
(The Philippine Star) - November 8, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The scent of spices such as ginger, turmeric, cloves and coriander filled the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia with the Indonesia Food Festival, recently.

The festival featured a variety of Indonesian dishes from 11 restaurants and caterers, including main courses like satay, nasi goreng, tumpeng, gulai and rendang, as well as snacks and desserts like lemper, dodol, martabak, pastel and cendol. The festival was just a sampling of around 5,350 traditional recipes in Indonesian cuisine.

Indonesian cuisine includes rice, noodle and soup dishes and varies greatly by region and influence. Sumatran cuisine, for example, often has Middle Eastern and Indian influences, featuring curried meat and vegetables such as gulai and curry, while Javanese cuisine is mostly indigenous, with some hint of Chinese influence.

“Most Indonesians prefer savory, hot and spicy food so our dishes tend to have rich and complex flavors derived from certain ingredients and spices. These ingredients and spices are mostly grown, if not exclusive to the Indonesian archipelago,” says Trini Gunarti, Minister Counselor for the Office of Social and Cultural Affairs of the Indonesian Embassy Manila.

Spicy and savory condiments like sambal (chili sauce with shrimp paste) and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) are a staple in every Indonesian dining table. Some Indonesian dishes such as rendang, nasi goreng, gado-gado, satay and soto are also considered national dishes because of their popularity.

Several Indonesia brands such as Alfamart, Kopiko and Sosro also showcased their products in the annual food fair. These brands are a testament to ever-growing acceptance of Indonesian brands in the Philippine market. Kopiko—both the confectionary and coffee product—is one example of how successful an Indonesian brand can become in the country.

Foodies and mall goers were also treated to Indonesian cultural performances, cooking demos, traditional dances and music, raffle draws and games, where participants won prizes from participating brands.

Organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia with SM Malls, the one-day Indonesian Food Festival aimed to not only promote Indonesian cuisine but also to strengthen people-to-people ties between Indonesia and the Philippines. Proceeds from the festival went to the Hospicio de San Jose and internally displaced persons from Marawi City through the Philippine Red Cross.

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