“Aren’t you sick of Asian food?” a German friend asked recently. Interestingly, I’m not. Well, not yet anyway. True, Tony and I are a little sick of rice, deep-fried foods, and the surprising lack of vegetable dishes here in Indonesia. This is especially strange because the markets are full of fresh produce – if only the restaurants knew about it. As it turns out, one did.
When we stumbled upon a little eatery just outside of Borobudur offering veggie and tofu based Javanese cuisine, we were quite delighted. Sitting behind a sheer lace curtain protected from inquisitive flies were a dozen different dishes. This wasn’t your typical fried Indonesian fare. Instead, sweet’n spicy cabbage, green leafy vegetables, stewed jackfruit, and spicy green beans sat next to soft and crispy tofu dishes, marinated eggs, chicken and fish curries as well as several sassy tempe creations. (Tempe, a soybean cake made of whole beans, is our new favorite food.)
It took us way too long to understand that this worked like a buffet-style lunch. For less than a dollar, we could fill our plates with everything but meat. Chicken curry and deep-fried catfish would have cost just a little more, but that wasn’t for us. Our bodies craved vegetables – the greener, the better. And what made this meal absolutely perfect was the home-made pecel, an aromatic peanut sauce with ginger, lime leaves, garlic, chili and shrimp paste. Yum!
Sure, in the end, there it was again – nasi putih, steamed white rice. But, evidently, I’m not so riced-out when it’s covered in peanut sauce. 🙂