The most enjoyable way to learn more about the Indian culture is through a gastronomic journey of Indian food. Indian food is a very large term and encompasses 3,000 years of culinary civilization.
It is wide ranging in its diversity and has been the literal melting pot influenced by the tastes and flavors of the visitors, friendly and otherwise, over the millennia to the Indian subcontinent. It is now characterized by its sophisticated and subtle use of many spices and vegetables grown across India and also for the widespread practice of vegetarianism across its society.
Each family of this cuisine is has a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. As a consequence, Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse Indian subcontinent.
The vastness of the Indian subcontinent, stretching from the Himalayan mountains in the north to tropical coasts in the south, has resulted in an astonishing range in local produce and this has led to wheat being the staple in the north and rice in the south.
Hot naan breads and pieces of marinated chicken simmered in a tandoor or a clay oven and curries rich in cream and spices are synonymous today with Indian food in general. In a country as large and diverse as India, tandoori food was initially from a tiny area in the northwestern plains of the subcontinent. Over a period of just half a century, the name and fame of tandoori food has managed to capture the imagination of the whole world as it is the humble folk from this region who spread out into different corners of the globe in search of a better income. Many of them started to earn a living by opening Indian restaurants.
Today, more than a dozen Indian restaurants are scattered all over the city, some of them equipped with excellent kitchens. However, eating outside the home is a very recent activity among Indians. Even today, getting together to eat primarily means keeping in touch with the community and family. That is why many restaurants here offer generous accommodation for private parties as well, including Queen’s Tandoor, Ganesha, Jypore, Kinara and Hazara.
The best way to order an Indian meal is to offer a dish to each guest and then to share it all with everyone present. Vegetarians have much to choose from: Tomato or spinach soups, baked cauliflower and potatoes eaten with lentils, bread or plain rice, and kulfi, or Indian ice cream, which tops the list of dessert favorites. Rasa Sayang in Sunter, apart from its Indian menu, also has a good choice of local food. A stuffed paratha, (bread filled with potatoes and lightly fried in oil) for example is a meal in itself. And the best ones are found at the Taj Mahal in Pasar Baru.
Ganesha Ek Sanskriti is a fine dining authentic Indian restaurant and bar operating at two locations. Both restaurants are done very beautifully with very ethnic ambiance. Ganesha offers a wide variety of North Indian curry and tandoori foods with a selection of non-vegetarian and vegetarian items and distinguishes itself for its authentic taste, rigorous quality levels, dietary care in use of fat products and hygiene.
Being a dietitian by training, Shilpa Dave, Ganesha’s founder-owner, can be seen regularly doing rounds of its kitchens in the BRI building and Kemang. This is a very popular venue for parties and its catering is very good.
Queen’s Tandoor is one of the oldest Indian restaurants in town and very popular with the local ethnic Indian community and has a wider appeal with its Chinese-Indian fusion cuisine. It offers a large variety of Indian cuisine and even the south Indian dosai. Its signature dish is the Raan E Bahaar, a succulent leg of lamb that is simply mouth-watering and mildly spiced, jaffran prawn (saffron prawns), lasooni palak, a wonderful spinach and garlic dish, and the herb naan to eat it all with. The restaurant’s belief in serving nothing but fresh ingredients and natural seasoning has proven to be a healthier choice while not compromising on taste. The restaurant provides a great venue for functions with its ample space. Queens Tandoor has outlets in Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Manila and Dubai.
Kinara is a very popular Indian restaurant on Jl. Kemang Raya and has a wonderful rooftop area for parties. The main dining area is like a Mughal courtyard with a central fountain, small seating alcoves that lead to a wonderful dining experience.
Authentic North Indian cuisine featuring mouth watering lentils and tender lamb dishes are a must-have.
As published in The Jakarta Post