We're Liz and Jo. Together we share a journey bespoke; a blog about our journeys and adventures in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is here that we will share our Jakarta Lifestyle and our passion for Food; to make, grow and to find..
Ask any Indonesian what their favourite biscuit is for Idul Fitri (or any special celebration for that matter), and without hesitation you’ll hear, ‘Nastar!’, ‘Kaastengel!’, ‘Putri Salju!’, ‘Kue Semperit!’ and ‘Lidah Kucing!’. These biscuits clearly are the favourites of Indonesia. And as these cookies are being named, you’ll also detect a hint of nostalgia in these voices – as attached to these cookies are fond memories of childhood, family and togetherness.
Did you know that we have already published seriously delicious recipes for Nastar (pineapple cookies) and Putri Salju (peanut cookies)? And today we present you with our wonderfully simple recipe for Lidah Kucing.
‘Lidah Kucing’ biscuits (which translates as ‘cats tongue biscuits’ due to their shape), are light in weight, soft in the centre and crispy around the edges. Eat them in their simple and elegant form, or dress them up with any matter of yummy toppings (suggestions below!). Either way, you’re sure to delight your family and friends when you serve up these delicious biscuits.
Finally, to those of you who celebrate Idul Fitri, we say, ‘Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri’. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and peaceful Eid.
125g unsalted butter (softened) 125 g caster sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 egg whites 125 g plain flour (sifted)
The simple ingredients for Lidah Kucing biscuits
Preheat oven to 175 degrees (fan forced). Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Softened butter and sugar
Next add the vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
Adding the vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.
Gently fold the egg whites into the butter mixture.
Next, gently fold in the flour until completely combined.
Add the flour, a few spoons at a time, to ensure it is thoroughly combined
Fold in flour using a spatula
Transfer the batter into a piping bag with a 1.5 cm tip.
* Note: If you don’t have a piping bag, simply fill a ziplock bag with the batter then make a 1.5cm diagonal cut across a corner.
Be patient with this step. With a steady hand, apply even pressure to the piping bag, squeezing out the mixture to form lengths of approx. 6cm
Pipe 6cm long strips onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3cm between each strip.
Don’t be worried if the shape isn’t perfectly formed. As the cookies bake, they will spread a little and the appearance will become more regular
Bake in preheated oven until edges are golden. This will take approximately 6-8 minutes.
Position trays in the middle of the oven
Allow cookies to cool.
Cookies are ready!
If decorating your cookies, ensure they are completely cool before icing and/or dipping in melted chocolate.
Here are some decorating suggestions:
Why not ice your cookies? or perhaps dip them in melted chocolate then cover with chopped nuts?
From left to right: Vanilla icing, dark compound chocolate (for melting), pistachios
Ground cinnamon and desiccated coconut
Or how about dusting your cookies with a pinch of ground cinnamon or a sprinkle of desiccated coconut?
Whatever you choose, be sure to refrigerate until set.
Ready for the fridge
Lidah Kucing ready for Idul Fitri or any other special occasion
Eat fresh or store in airtight container for up to 4 days.
For a twist, why not spike the cookie batter with some finely grated orange or lemon zest; ground cardamom or cinnamon.
Why not sandwich two biscuits together with raspberry jam. Want a little more indulgence? Dip the ends in melted dark chocolate.
In the spirit of Idul Fitri, we asked some of our AJB interviewees (featured in our ‘People’ category) what their favourite celebratory cookies are. This is what they had to say:
Hani Nandana (my Bahasa Indonesia teacher for the past 5 years): “Kaastengel, Putri Salju and Lidah Kucing are found in almost all households during Idul Fitri”.
Nita Strudwick (professional photographer): “Oh I love Lidah Kucing! But I grew up eating Kaastengels and Nastar cookies every Eid. My mom used to make them. Now my husband and daughter love Kaastengel too (made from Edam cheese)”.
Muhammad Fadli (professional photographer): “When I was growing up we almost never bought any biscuits for Eid, instead everything was homemade. My aunty would make the best cheese biscuits (Kaastengel)”.
Ruth Marbun (AKA, ‘Utay Utay’ – Artist): “Nastar, Lidah Kucing and Putri Salju (made with cashews). Because my mum rarely buys Putri Salju cookies, I treasure every sugary bite when I enjoy them in other people’s homes. The best ones have crushed cashews in the dough”.
Vina Alhadath (photographer): “Home made chocolate peanut cookies – they are easy to make and taste great!”
Ayu Larasati (Ceramicist): We enjoy Lidah Kucing as well – but the other ones that we love are Kue Putri Salju and also of course Nastar and Kaastengel. We would usually buy ours from Toko Oen when we would do Mudik to Semarang. Toko Oen has been around for generations”
Looking for more recipes for Lebaran and other festive occasions? Try these!
Please meet Gwen Winarno, a healthy food and healthy Jakarta- lifestyle advocate!
In today’s AJB interview, Gwen shares her motivation for establishing Pure Foods Company, an organic catering and online grocer, and why she believes it really is possible to live a healthy lifestyle in Jakarta.
Read on for Gwen’s inspiring, healthy food journey …
Kenalkan Gwen Winarno:
Your full name please: Gwendoline Amanda Winarno
What do you like to be called? Gwen
Please tell us a little about your background – Where did you grow up and study? I was born in Jakarta, and lived here until I was 13 years old. Then I moved to the US. For the first 4 years I was in Los Angeles, CA, and the rest in Seattle, WA. I lived there until the end of 1998. So I lived in the US for about 10 years.
I graduated with a BA in Marketing from Seattle University, not by choice. My late father was quite conservative when it came to education. He wanted me to take Business, I wanted to dive into fashion straight away. So we compromised that I could take fashion after I got my BA. But after I was done with the BA and went back to Indonesia, I ended up getting married and so there was definitely a change of path after that.
‘Me about one year old, getting a piggy back ride courtesy of my Papa’ Gwen
‘Play time with my mum’ Gwen
What did you want to be when you were a child? While my school friends wanted to be a vet, doctor and architect, I wanted to be a French interpreter. It must be from the French films I watched growing up with my parents. I just imagined it being such a cool thing to do, while wearing a scarf & beret of cause …
How did you get into your current profession? I’ve been challenged with an auto-immune disorder for more than 10 years now. After years of living with it and the ups and downs of it, I just needed to share my healing story with a hope to inspire others, that they too can heal themselves. We are living in a world where a lot of people are getting sick and mystery and chronic illneses are on the rise. But I’m a firm believer that with the right nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, people can heal, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Can you share with us the Pure Foods Company concept and story? Pure Foods Company started back in 2015 and it definitely came about from a personal need. My husband Yudha, and myself have busy schedules and by the time we get home from work we are too tired to prep and cook dinner. But we knew we wanted to eat healthy. Mind you back then, the healthy delivery options in Jakarta were pretty grim or non-existant, so we started Pure Foods Company with daily catering and also selling our fresh almond mylk. Our focus is on natural and/or organic whole food, real food. And for the basics, we only use coconut oil or olive oil, natural sea salt & coconut sugar/dates/raw honey, if any, for natural sweeteners.
Pure Foods Company Almond Milk. They come in recyclable glass bottles. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint we are doing a 10 to 1 program, where for every 10 330 ml empty bottles returned we give 1 bottle for free. Pure Foods Company Cold Pressed Juice. The Green Mile (Kale, Ginger, Cucumber, Lemon, Orange, Bokcoy, Parsley, Apple, Cilantro) Pure Foods Company Energy Balls
Pure Foods Bone Broth made with grass fed beef bones which are slow- simmered for 24 hrs
Do you believe there is an growing awareness of the importance of healthy eating in Jakarta? If so, why do you think this is the case? What are the challenges?
Absolutely! I think it goes back to the fact that more and more people are getting sick. All these mystery and silent, but chronic illnesses … this low, yet constant inflammation brewing in the body that develops into serious diseases due to poor choice in nutrition and a toxic lifestyle. I think living in Jakarta itself is already quite a challenge. Let’s face it, Jakarta is not an easy place to live in. Most people are living in constant fight or flight mode. So you really need to stop and re-evaluate our life, health and wellbeing. Where is it heading towards? Does it look bad? If it does, you need to seriously start making the necessary changes to reverse that process. And that starts now, like today, even as simple as drinking more water each day. As long as you do it, as long as you start, as long as you have the awareness. Even if things don’t look bad, you should still consider picking up this whole healthy living thing. Because you don’t get sick overnight either. Think about it.
We understand you are equally passionate about women’s empowerment and are a Holistic Health Coach. Can you share with us your interest and involvement in these areas.
I see more and more people getting sick and when that happens, they are lost and they don’t know what to do. So my wish is to open their eyes, mind & heart to the possibility of healing. That we CAN heal ourselves. Our body is so clever, that given half the chance, it will and it can heal itself.
When it comes to the topic of women’s empowerment, self-love is key. I myself grew up with a lot of self-hate. And not only until the past couple of years did I get this concept. But I think a lot of women share the same sentiment. And this is actually the root of many problems and issues women are facing. Be it health, relationship, problem at work, etc. Most of them can be traced back to self-hate. Feeling of not being good enough often becomes our motto. So self-love is something that’s essential and needs to be nurtured in women, starting at a very young age. Nurturing self-love is naturally part of Holistic Health.
Other than coaching one-on-one clients, I also do workshops and give out health talks at various events.
‘I really feel ‘off’ when I don’t make time to meditate. So everyday I make a point to do it even if its just for 5 minutes’. Gwen
Who do you find inspiring and why? I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. But I am generally drawn to the whole health & wellbeing movement and anyone genuinely involved in it.
What’s one thing about you that would surprise people? I love to dance. One of my stress busters is coming home a bit early so there’s no one home, I would blast some old school hip hop and just dance!! (because literally, no one’s watching) this is such an awesome stress relieving thing for me.
What annoys you? People who don’t know how to queue. Ughhhhh!!
What delights you? Good people. Not to be confused with nice people.
About your Jakarta:
3 words to describe your Jakarta? Birthplace, Home, Teacher
What are your favourite Apps? Kindle, is Netflix an App?
What’s your favourite Indonesian book? I’m biased but I love my Dad’s writing. He used to write this column called “Kiat” for Tempo Magazine, it’s basically a short & smart business column, and until this very day I still get people coming up to me telling me how much they learn from reading those columns. My dad was a true renaissance man.
‘Forever my Hero, my Papa, Bondan Winarno’ Gwen
What’s your favourite Indonesian Movie? / Band ? / Singer ? I love keroncong. Don’t ask me a specific name of singer, but I just love keroncong. You can’t help but smile (or move) when you hear keroncong.
Where’s your favourite place to eat in Jakarta? My husband and I always end up at Le Quartier, somehow
Tea, Coffee or Juice? And where? Tea, at home. I brew my own herbal teas or I have my stashes of Mariage Freres teas.
Where do you go to relax in Jakarta? Home
What’s Jakarta’s best kept secret? Home. My husband and I are such homebodies, we make our living space super comfortable so we love staying in.
Finish these sentences:
Every visitor to Jakarta should eat….. so many, but martabak is a must, I love martabak
Every visitor to Jakarta should visit….. ok, it’s outside of jakarta, but Kebun Raya Bogor is quite a gem if you’re looking for “park” feeling. Go there during weekday. Bring your own picnic spread!
Every visitor to Jakarta should experience….. things can get super hectic in the city, but try having a drink or dinner at one of the rooftop places or skycrapers here, the city in the evening, bird’s eye view, is quite amazing.
What’s your favourite place to visit in Indonesia? Or place you would like to visit? Well, Bali is our second home, so I guess Bali would be it. I love beaches in general, so would love to explore more beach destinations in Indonesia.
Liz, Gwen and Jo chatting about healthy living in Jakarta (Image credit: a journey bespoke)
How can our readers follow you and your catering and online grocery store, Pure Foods Company?
Instagram: Pure Foods Company Pure Foods Catering: Whatsapp : 0856 8800 300 Pure Foods Catering : Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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I have a soft spot for Nasi Uduk because it originated right here in Jakarta. The name literally means “mixed rice” in the Betawi dialect and is related to the Bahasa Indonesia term aduk (“mix”). The name also describes the dish preparation itself, which involves infusing fresh herbs and spices into coconut milk giving the rice an incredible aroma and flavour.
If you live in Jakarta it is hard not to notice the vast number of Nasi Uduk street vendors selling this iconic rice dish; often in front of schools and offices to attract people of all ages.
I can’t actually remember the first time I tasted it, but more recently eating Nasi Uduk has become a weekly food ritual for my Bahasa Indonesia Teacher, Ibu Restiany and me.
We hope you get a chance to make Nasi Uduk for yourself. For me it’s a recipe I will take with me wherever I go. Making it will always remind me of ‘Jakarta’ the city that got under my skin (in a good way) from day 1 and that I continue to have a ‘soft spot’ for.
Ingredients 300g uncooked rinsed rice 400 ml coconut milk (santan) 1 bay leaf (daun salam) 1 kaffir lime leaf (duan jeruk) 1 lemongrass, bruised and knotted (sereh) 15g ginger, peeled and sliced (jahe) ¼ whole nutmeg, toasted or ¼ tsp of ground nutmeg (pala) 1 cinnamon stick, toasted (kayu manis) 2 cloves, toasted (cengkih) ¼ tsp salt (garam)
Method: Our recipe for Nasi Uduk is made on the stove top but it can also be made in a rice cooker. The aromatic ingredients are infused in the coconut milk, strained and afterwards the liquid is used to steam the rice using the absorption method. Prepare the ingredients For the rice :
Wash and strain the uncooked rice
Prepare a medium size saucepan to cook the rice by coating the base with oil
For the aromatics :
Clockwise L-R kaffir lime leaf, bay leaf, lemongrass, salt, cloves, cinnamon ginger and nutmeg
Toast the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to release the aromas. Turn the burner on medium-low and cook for 4-5 minutes, shaking or stirring often.
Infusing the aromatics into the coconut milk :
Add santan to a small saucepan and slowly bring it to the boil
Begin adding the herbs and spices one by one into the coconut milk
Finish with a good pinch of salt
Bring the coconut milk to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 -10 minutes to release all the flavours into the liquid
Strain the herbs and spices from the coconut milk
The final strained mixture. Top up the coconut milk mixture with water if required
Cooking the rice:
Add the washed and rinsed rice to a medium size saucepan as well as the infused coconut milk
Set over medium-high to high heat and simmer. Stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
Once the coconut milk has begun to gently bubble, stop stirring and reduce heat to low or medium-low so the water simmers. Cover tightly with a lid and let simmer for 20 -30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
Finally, turn off the heat, but leave the covered pot for another 30 to 60 minutes or until you’re ready to eat.
Serving: Nasi Uduk can be served as individual portions using a cup as a mould and turning out onto plates or served the traditional way in a ‘bakul nasi’ (rice basket) lined with a fresh banana leaf (daun pisang) and guests can help themselves. Nasi Uduk is traditionally served topped with egg omelette (telor dadar) and fried shallots (bawang merah goreng) and accompanies other dishes such as fried chicken, fried tempe (ayam goreng, tempe goreng) and tofu.
Nasi Uduk served in a bakul nasi – Indonesian rice basket lined with a banana leaf from my garden. Bakul nasi can be found in all the traditional markets usually on the ground floor. I purchased this one from Pasar Mayestik
Did you try this recipe? We would love to hear about your experience! Share it on Instagram! We would love to see! Don’t forget to mention @ajourneybespoke so we can share it with you!
Words: Liz McClean Photography: a journey bespoke Thanks also goes to: Our AJB Instagram community includingLara Leets who provided suggestions to make this perfect Nasi Uduk. Lara Leets is a cookbook author and co-founder of catering business Kiwi and Roo.
Integrity of food, in particular fresh produce was always my greatest concern when we first moved to Jakarta. Not knowing where things were grown and in what environment made me feel a little uneasy. So to regain the tiniest bit of control of our fresh produce intake, I started growing a few things in my Jakarta garden and this ultimately led to our blog post Growing your own produce in Jakarta .
Today we introduce you to the delightful Weni, a local organic urban gardener who has established a prolific and productive home garden in Bintaro, in the south west of Jakarta. Weni is passionate about growing her own produce, learning through trial and error, all the while sharing this knowledge with those who are keen to learn. In this AJB blog post Weni shares her tips on how to establish a successful urban organic garden for your Jakarta home, regardless of how big or small your available space is.
Happy reading and more importantly, Happy gardening dear friends
*Kenalkan Weni of Tropical Sage Garden
Weni in her urban garden (photo supplied by Weni)
I was born in Surabaya, East Java. In my last year of high school I moved overseas to study. Upon returning, my son was born and growing our own food and eating healthily became a priority for me. My mother and maternal grandmother taught me a lot about gardening and food, and it’s fantastic to be drawing on this knowledge and extending it further through my own experiences.
First things first, what you do recommend for the structure of an urban garden – raised beds, pots or in-ground planting?
This depends on how much space you have – but as a general rule, I think ‘raised beds’ are most suited for the urban gardener. This is because you can control and manage it better. I actually put ‘planting in pots/containers’ (with a minimum height of 20cm) in the category of ‘raised beds’ because essentially raised beds are anything that is enclosed and above the ground. The gardening principles are pretty similar for both. When building your raised beds, you need to ensure the base of each bed follows the contour of the land as much as possible. This ensures any excess water drains away.
If you choose to plant directly into the earth, you will most likely need to improve the drainage and quality of the soil. Jakarta’s soil is often very dense due to clay, so the method of double-digging is a good idea. Dig to a depth of 0.5 metre (minimum) then take out some of the soil. Add organic matter and mix through with the native soil. Return this to the ground. Allow to rest for a few days before planting.
An example of Weni’s raised garden bed, featuring Ceylon spinach (AKA Malabar spinach)
What is the best way to prepare your soil?
Before planting anything, you must ensure your soil is well prepared with good drainage and irrigation (supply of water). Try to incorporate as much organic matter as possible into your soil: cocopeat, fertile soil from a good source (no contamination of pesticides and other chemicals), manure (goat, chicken, cow) and baked/raw rice husks are all fantastic. Many of these can be bought from your roadside garden shops – but be sure to check how they are stored (outside in the rain is not good!)
Vermicompost (worm compost) can be substituted with goat manure (this is easier to source in Indonesia). When you buy your goat manure, you will find that there are two types available: fine granules or coarse. Better that you choose fine granules as it is more suited for urban gardening because it’s fast acting. The bigger the chunks of manure, the slower the release of nutrients.
To prepare your soil, use the ratio 1:1:1:1 and mix it thoroughly. Don’t forget to rest the soil for a few days before planting into it.
To prepare your soil, use a ratio of 1:1:1:1 of the above organic ingredients (photo supplied by Weni)
Make sure the organic matter that you buy has been stored well. Prior to use, be sure to leave in the sun to kill any unwanted microbes (photo supplied by Weni)
Can you provide us with some advice on composting?
Everyone should compost. It’s easy to do and it doesn’t take too long to learn. I start by collecting vegetable food scraps (apart from citrus) from my kitchen. We also add coffee grounds and crushed egg shells.
This is then taken outside and placed into our compost tub. To the compost tub we add leaf litter and garden clippings. The compost tub sits on top of a layer of soil and as the food scraps begin to decompose, the nutrient rich liquid seeps into the soil through the holes at the base of our compost tub. Every few days we turn the scraps to ensure they receive more air.
The set up of Weni’s compost tub
Notice the holes at the bottom of the compost tub. These allow the nutrient-rich liquid to seep into the soil
Since we are living in a tropical climate, the decomposing process can be as fast as 3 weeks to 2 months depending on how large the heap is and its composition. Once it has thoroughly decomposed (and there is no more heat), I add this to my garden beds. Another sign that the compost is ready for use is when it no longer smells and it looks like it has totally broken down. It should smell like the rainforest floor.
Ultimately remember this: it’s all about feeding your soil, not feeding the plants. By getting the microorganisms going, you will create a nutritious soil which the plants will love.
If you would like to learn more about composting, get a group of friends together and contact Kebun Kumara. They offer an excellent group workshop on composting.
Can you suggest what to grow and when?
In Jakarta the end of April is a good time to start growing produce as plants are always better with less water than too much water. This is especially true when you’re new to gardening.
Before planting anything, study your area – look at the position of the sun throughout the day. As a general rule, morning sun is always better than afternoon sun.
Be observant – what is already growing in your area? – ie, what is ‘in season’?
Grow local! – particularly in the beginning. Don’t be tempted by ‘exotic seeds’ which are not adapted to Jakarta’s tropical climate.
Some excellent plants to begin with include:
Blue pea flower Kangkung (water spinach) Okra Kemangi & other basil species Bok choy Sawi (choy Sum)
Most of the plants listed above grow quickly, and will be ready to harvest in no time!
The climber ‘Bunga telang’ (Blue butterfly pea plant) is fast growing. The flowers can be steeped in water and used to make tea and other refreshing drinks
– and of course don’t forget to grow your Jakarta Kitchen Staples such as: chilli plants, pandanus (pandan wangi), tumeric and ginger (although these last two take time to grow).
Raised beds featuring kale, basil plants, beans and various herbs
Don’t forget to include some pollinator – attracting plants in your garden. These will help to bring in the bees, butterflies and other ‘friendly’ insects
We all love tomatoes but they can be tricky to grow in Jakarta. High humidity and high rainfall does not suit tomatoes. You can get around this by growing them under cover, allowing you to control the amount of water they receive.
The laser lite roofing allows greater control of how much water the garden will receive. This is especially important when growing moisture-sensitive plants such as tomatoes
I like to keep a record of when I plant things and when I need to transplant seedlings as well. This helps me manage my garden more efficiently.
Weni’s garden whiteboard
How do you minimise pests in your garden?
I do not use any synthetic insecticides in my garden. It’s all about using nature and diversion tactics! Firstly, I like to use Neem oil spray. It is made from oil extracted from the evergreen Neem tree and is useful as a biopesticide for organic gardening as it repels a wide variety of pests. Homemade natural pesticides can easily be found online as well.
Secondly, I use flowers as a decoy. The sunflowers which we grew in tubs (on casters) have attracted very hungry grasshoppers. Instead of spraying them, we have wheeled the flowers away from our main garden and have allowed the grasshoppers to feast on them. Hopefully this means they won’t be interested in the rest of my garden!
Weni’s ‘decoy’ sunflowers
Where do you source your seeds and seedlings?
Firstly, always aim for organic, untreated and non-GMO seeds. My best source for seeds is through seed exchanges. Get to know the person collecting the seeds and observe their garden through photos on instagram, blogs etc. The community of urban gardeners in Jakarta (and beyond) is steadily growing and we not only share our knowledge but also seeds and seedlings. To tap into this, it’s best to follow these accounts on Instagram (see instagram links below for more details).
When I’m travelling to Australia I also love to drop into “Bunnings”. If you’re Australian, you would certainly know this mega store! It has everything!! I pick up packets of heirloom/bio seeds which I know grow well in Jakarta’s tropical climate.
If you’re buying your seeds in Jakarta, pay attention to how the seeds are stored and inquire as to how old the seeds are.
“Sometimes it’s best to grow from seeds, other times it’s better from seedlings. On my workstation wall I have a table that I refer to which gives me an overview of this” – Weni
How do you establish your own Seed Bank?
Each time I grow a crop I save some seeds at the end of harvest and sow them again when the season is right. These seeds which were able to grow in the tropical climate have adapted, and each time I resow them, they will adapt that little bit more. This builds their resilience and makes them more likely to yield a good crop.
Weni picking some butterfly pea flowers for our tea
Seed collecting, ready to include in Weni’s Seed Bank
Weni’s ‘treasure chest’ is her seed bank which she keeps in this timber box. The conditions are just right: no direct sunlight and a stable temperature
Where do you source other materials, especially for soil preparation?
I buy things like cocopeat, soil, manure, baked/raw rice husks from the road-side gardening stalls you see all around Jakarta. Once I bring them home I leave them out in the direct sun (bag unopened), to sterilise the contents before using them.
Most of your essential organic materials can be purchased from road-side garden stalls (photo supplied by Weni)
What are your top ‘Essential tools’ and where do you source them?
My essential gardening tools include my pruning scissors, spade and any old kitchen tools.
There’s no one-stop-shop to buy your gardening tools here in Jakarta. You can try Ace hardware or Hypermart or Trubus– this is a home & garden store in West Jakarta which also publishes a gardening magazine.
Some of Weni’s preferred gardening tools including two watering cans – the small one is for her seedlings
Do you have any other gardening advice you would like to share?
First and foremost, if you have kids, get them involved!
Gardening is a most rounded education – it involves science, mathematics, problem solving and language. It teaches patience, persistence and encourages curiosity.
Our kids are open minded and can be very receptive to gardening experiences. I truly feel that life moves way too fast even for our children. As a result, their connection with the natural world is weakened due to ‘distractions’. Teaching our children about where their food comes from, how it is grown, and what it tastes like is a fantastic way to encourage them to appreciate and value good food.
Get the kids to grow things that show results quickly, like mung beans for example. They can be grown in cotton wool on the window seal of your kitchen. Other easy things to grow include eggplants and kale.
My son is always growing something. A couple of years ago he grew an avocado tree from a seed. Although this process takes patience, the moment the seed sprouted, a renewed sense of anticipation was felt.
Weni’s son observing his avocado seed. A window seal is an excellent place to grow a variety of small plants, allowing your child to take care of their plants each day (photo supplied by Weni)
An avocado plant grown from a seed
Weni, can you please share your favourite sources of gardening information?
Although I refer to lots of instagram accounts as well as web sites, there’s still plenty of room for good books and subscriptions too. Here are some of my recommendations:
When I moved to Indonesia I started seeing green! and I’m not referring to the tropical landscape. I’m talking about cakes and bread! … green cakes and green bread! The source was pandan, a tropical plant with long palm-like leaves and a distinct nutty flavour.
This week Jo and I had the pleasure of being shown how to make a ‘green cake’ … a moist and aromatic pandan chiffon cake, commonly known in Indonesia as ‘bolu pandan’ or ‘pandan ball’ flavoured with fresh pandan juice and coconut milk. We decided it was time to add ‘bolu pandan’ to our Indonesian cooking story, and thought you might like to join us.
Below you will find Ibu Mina’s easy-to-follow recipe which makes a moist, with just enough sweetness chiffon that is cotton-soft, light and fluffy, and wonderfully aromatic!
Pandan chiffon cake
Makes: One 10 inch / 25cm cake Cook time: 30 minutes (conventional setting)
Ingredients 6 pandan leaves, washed and roughly chopped 1/2 grated fresh coconut 5 large eggs 1 cup of sugar 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk 1 heaped cup of plain flour 2 teaspoons baking powder pinch salt 1/4 teaspoon vanila essence 3 drops Hijau Tua – dark green food colouring (optional)
Preparing your cake pan and oven:
Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Prepare a 10 inch / 25 cm chiffon cake pan with butter and a light dusting of flour.
To make pandan juice:
Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove the grit and dirt. Gather the leaves together into a tight bunch and cop roughly into 5mm pieces. Place chopped pandan leaves into a food processor and add 50ml of water. Blend until the leaves are pulverised about 1 minute.
Press the pulp with the back of a metal spoon through a fine metal sieve to obtain the juice. Strain through a sieve. You should have about 50-60 ml of juice
To make fresh coconut milk:
Ibu Mina bought one coconut this morning and asked for it to be shredded at her local roadside coconut vendor. (the little brown bits you can see are shreds of coconut shell) They will be strained out. In an Indonesian Pasar you will find many coconut vendors and most will have their own grating and juicing machines.
Once you are home with your grated coconut, place it in a large bowl and add 100 ml of room temperature water. This is where the fun begins!
Squeeze the wet mixture into a bowl to start releasing the coconut milk. Keep squeezing for approximately 5 minutes until the shredded coconut starts to feel dry.
Then transfer the coconut mixture with your hands into a metal sieve, continue to squeeze the coconut mixture and the coconut milk will keep running out. Keep squeezing until you can’t get another drop. The first press will be the most concentrated and creamy.
The longer the mixture stands the thicker and creamier it will become.
Spoon the thick coconut mixture from the top for the cake.
You will be left with very dry shredded coconut flesh. This can be composted.
To make the pandan chiffon cake:
In a large bowl beat 5 eggs with the sugar on high speed until light and fluffy.
Add salt and vanilla essence and mix until combined.
Sift flour and baking powder and add to the egg and sugar mixture. Combine with a spatula or on a low speed setting.
Now add the coconut milk, pandan juice until well combined. We decided to add a few drops of green food colouring to give our mixture a more vibrant green colour. This is optional. For a natural colouring you can use daun suji juice. Find the recipe here.
Slowly pour the batter into a pan while tilting the mixing bowl to get rid of air bubbles. Use a rubber spatula to quickly run through the batter to pop air bubbles.
Lift the pan about 10cm off your kitchen bench and drop it onto the bench a few times to eliminate air pockets.
Bake until the cake is golden on top and a long skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan and centre core to release the cake.
Ingredients to make pandan chiffon cake, clockwise: eggs, pandan juice, salt, sugar, vegetable oil, fresh coconut milk, plain flour and baking powder, vanilla essence, green food colouring (optional)
Note: It is perfectly normal for the surface of the batter to crack during baking. However, if it starts to crack before the first 15 mins of baking has passed, it may indicate that the oven temp is too high. Ibu Mina’s recipe will turn out into a fluffy, moist and aromatic cake. Cut into desired number of slices and serve.
Thank you Ibu Mina for sharing your recipe for bolu pandan with us!
To serve: ‘In Indonesia bolu pandan is served simply with tea or coffee. Many people like to enjoy bolu pandan warm when it is most aromatic’ says Ibu Mina
Storage: Once the cake has cooled, store it in an air-tight container. It should be able to keep well for up to three days. However, we bet that it will be gone within a day or at the very most, two!
Chiffon cakes are often made by folding beaten egg whites into a batter that has oil as the fat. This recipe makes a moist cake without separating the eggs … much faster!
Fresh pandan leaves are easy to find in Indonesia, whether from your mobile tukang sayur, local pasar or supermarket. Pandan is also easy to grow in a pot.
The unused pandan juice can be stored in an airtight container and will keep up to 2 days if stored in the refrigerator.
In the tropics if you prefer not to use green food colouring daun suji juice can be substituted.
Did you try this recipe? We would love to hear about your experience! Share it on Instagram! We would love to see! Don’t forget to mention @ajourneybespoke so we can share it with you!