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Three Indonesian recipes for summer get-togethers

Chef Petty Pandean-Elliott shares three dishes from her new book, The Indonesian Table.

With summer – and the prospect of feasting get-togethers – just around the corner, there’s no better time to add some dishes with colourful ingredients and aromatic spices into your repertoire.

When it comes to flavour, few places offer as much variety as Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, home to 700 languages, and diverse culinary traditions shaped by a whirl of Arabic, Indian, European and Chinese influences. Arriving just in time to add a wallop of Indonesian flair to summertime meals is a new cookbook from Petty Pandean-Elliott, The Indonesian Table, which weaves together her culinary tales – from childhood through to twenty years spent travelling in Indonesia, seeking out treasured local dishes – with recipes underpinned by the country’s history and heritage.

Shining a spotlight on eight regions – from Sulawesi to Kalimantan – some pages bring to life memories of growing up in laid-back Manado where weekends were spent lounging on Tasik Ria’s stretching white sands, and Petty’s love of food took root in her grandmother’s kitchen where the scent of wood smoke, burnt coconut charcoal and lemongrass filled the air. ‘I ended up being her sous chef, sent to collect fresh eggs, or basil and turmeric roots from the garden,’ she explains. On particularly hot days, and special occasions, Petty’s family would go out for vibrant green jus alpukat – a rich, sweet and indulgent lassi-like drink made with avocado juice, chocolate condensed milk and coffee, which she fondly remembers as ‘such a treat; I would drink the whole glass in one go!’

A move to urban, more cosmopolitan Jakarta in her teens further expanded her culinary horizons. ‘Street food is the beating heart of Jakarta; my family loves food, and we tasted our way around the city,’ she says. ‘Sometimes we didn’t even go anywhere, as in those days, street food vendors pushed their carts around the neighbourhood. I’d be watching TV with my siblings and hear the yells of “satay” or the wooden drumming of tek tek noodle sellers. We’d rush outside to see garlic, white cabbage, pak choi and tauco (Indonesian miso) cooked in front of us over high flames, mixed theatrically with eggs, water and noodles.’ Later, during high school, she’d drive with friends to Puncak’s tea plantations and mountains for walks fuelled by barbecued corn, cooked over billowing smoke, brushed with butter.

It was the differences – both culinary and cultural – she saw between rural Manado and bustling Jakarta that sparked Petty’s life-long passion for cooking, and also her curiosity to understand her own culture through its diverse food traditions. The now UK-based Petty – who cooked at the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali and sits on the judging panel for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – has spent time adapting her collection of recipes with easy-to-find ingredients and uncomplicated methods. The result? Authentic Indonesian dishes that are simple enough for home cooks everywhere to master.

These three colourful and contemporary, summery dishes, inspired by some of Petty’s fondest childhood food memories, make creating your own Indonesian Table a breeze…

Vegetable and Miso Noodle Soup

Mie Tek-Tek Sayuran dengan Tauco

Images: Yuki Sugiura

‘I grew up in Jakarta with tek-tek noodles. “Tek-tek” is the rapping sound of a wooden stick hitting the side of the cart, made by street food vendors looking for evening business and keen to attract the attention of hungry patrons. Sadly, online meal delivery services are replacing this great tradition. Simple, quick and easy to make, mie tek-tek can be prepared in endless variations. I enjoy it with chicken breast, chicken liver or eggs, and I like this version for its ample umami undertones, courtesy of the miso. I deliberately omitted sweet soy, relying on the sweetness from the sweetcorn, which also adds vibrant colour to the soup. Finish it with a bit of vinegary tang and chilli heat for a wonderfully memorable meal.’

Serves 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes


2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons miso paste
350 g/12 oz (2 cups) sweetcorn
2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
250 g/9 oz fresh egg noodles
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
100 g/31⁄2 oz (3 cups) baby spinach
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Salt and white pepper, to taste
3 spring onions, sliced
2 tomatoes, cut into 1-cm/ 1⁄2-inch cubes


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2–3 minutes until golden brown. Turn the heat off. Add 1 litre/34 fl oz (41⁄4 cups) boiling water to the pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the miso and 31⁄2 tablespoons of hot water and mix well.

3. Put half of the sweetcorn and half the miso mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pan, then add the remaining half of the miso mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining sweetcorn and the chillies.

4. Bring a separate saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fresh noodles and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain again. Drizzle the soy sauce over the noodles and mix. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls.

5. Add the baby spinach to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, or until just wilted. Add the vinegar and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to taste. It should be sweet, sour and spicy with a hint of miso.

6. Ladle the soup over the noodles and top with sweetcorn, spring onions and tomatoes

Grilled Sweetcorn with Green Sambal and Lime

Jagung Manis Oles Sambal Ijo 

“Boiled, steamed or barbecued, sweetcorn is always on the Indonesian table. We love it steamed in its husk and served with steamed fresh peanuts in the shell and edamame, as prepared by Indonesian street food vendors. Barbecued sweetcorn is a personal favourite.”

Serves 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15-20 minutes


2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 quantity Green Sambal (below)
Juice of 1 lime
4 cobs sweetcorn, husks and silky strands removed
Chopped basil, to garnish (optional) 


1. Preheat your barbecue or griddled (grill) pan over medium-high heat.

2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, sambal and lime juice. Brush a little of the mixture over the sweetcorn. Add the cobs to the barbecue and grill for 10–12 minutes, brushing on a little more of the sambal and turning occasionally.

3. Transfer to a plate, then drizzle over the remaining sambal and garnish with basil.

Green Sambal

“The heaped piles of curly red and green chillies in West Sumatran markets are a sight to behold. This versatile sambal can be served with a variety of dishes. Since finding these chillies outside of Asia can be challenging, use large green chillies to intensify the colour and add body to the sambal without imparting too much heat. It’s great with fish, chicken and Indonesian fried rice without sweet soy."

Makes 270 g/10 oz (generous 1 cup) 


10 large green chillies, coarsely chopped
4–5 green bird’s eye chillies
2 banana shallots, coarsely chopped
1 green tomato, coarsely chopped 
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons coconut oil


1. Put all the ingredients, except the coconut oil, into a blender and pulse until a coarse paste forms.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chilli paste and sauté for 10 minutes until softened and fragrant. Season to taste with salt.

3. This sambal can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, topped with oil, for 2–3 days.

Avocado Mousse and Chocolate Ganache

Alpukat dan Saus Coklat

“I fondly recall the traditional concoction jus alpukat, made with avocado, condensed milk and a touch of coffee. This popular smoothie can be found in big cities, from street vendors to restaurants, and serves as the inspiration for this modern dessert. The layered combination of silky avocado mousse, rich chocolate ganache and crunchy roasted cashews is a delight. You’ll want to keep the ripe avocados in the refrigerator for 24 hours to ensure a cold dessert. The chocolate ganache is relatively quick to make, once you have roasted and cooled the cashews beforehand.”

Makes 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes


For the ganache:

200 ml/7 fl oz (generous 3⁄4 cup) single (light) cream
100 g/31⁄2 oz good-quality dark (bittersweet) chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon sugar 

For the avocado mousse:

4 large, perfectly ripe avocados
2 tablespoons sugar
50 g/13⁄4 oz (scant 1⁄2 cup) roasted cashews, chopped, for sprinkling


1. To prepare the ganache, combine all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Ensure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.) Stir for 8–10 minutes, until smooth. Set aside.

2. To prepare the avocado mousse, cut the avocados in half and remove the stones (pits). Scoop the flesh into a blender, add the sugar and blend for 2–3 minutes, until smooth and airy.

3. Divide the avocado mousse into four wide-rimmed glasses. Pour over the chocolate ganache, then refrigerate for 1–2 hours to chill.

4. Sprinkle with roasted cashews and serve.

The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott, published by Phaidon, is out now.

Additional words by Ianthe Butt.