There is no better way to experience a country than by sampling its food. Am I right? Living in Indonesia, we believe ‘Martabak’ is one local food you must try; either by buying from a ‘trusted’ food vendor or by making it at home. In today’s post we will show you how to do both, in ‘Our Quick and Easy Guide to Morish Martabak.’
5 fast Martabak Facts:
- This local favourite is purchased as a snack or light meal traditionally from mobile food vendors in the evenings, and is often referred to as the King of Indonesian street food.
- There are two versions of Martabak in Indonesia; Manis (may-nees; sweet), particularly enjoyed in Jakarta and West Java and Asin (ah-shin; salty).
- Martabak Manis is a sweet thick pancake cooked in a pan with yeast and shortening (a bright yellow semi-solid fat) whereas Martabak Asin according to Bruce Kraig’s, Street Food Around the World is influenced from the Middle East. In Arabic, Mutabbaq means, ‘folded’ around a stuffing as it cooks.
- Traditional Martabak Manis toppings include: roasted ground peanuts, chocolate sprinkles such as Ceres, condensed milk,cheese and chocolate.
- Martabak Telur (egg) accompanied by savoury minced beef, is enjoyed by those who prefer the salty version.
Apart from being personally intrigued by this ‘morish’ local treat which hosts a myriad of delectable toppings and fillings; the word around town (particularly on social media sites such as Instagram) is that there is a ‘huge wave’ of nostalgia and sentiment for Indonesian Martabak in Jakarta at the moment.
From Senopati, South Jakarta’s latest ‘hipster’ enclave, to leafy Sector 9 Bintaro, we are observing the ‘new generation’ opening up contemporary food stalls; namely Martabak Boss and Lot9. Martabak is a ‘huge hit’ in both locations. You cannot miss their bright yellow shipping container in Senopati. This spot is a local meet up point for ‘local hipsters’ and positioned next to one of our favourite cafes, Woot Coffee and Mates. Lot9 in Bintaro has its own ‘Martabak Station’ inside the open plan cafe, where Martabak lovers have the chance to ‘get up close’ and observe every step of the making process.
Martabak Boss and Lot9 both make a ‘mean’ Martabak Manis (sweet) and include their own ‘modern take’ with toppings such as Nutella, Toblerone, Kit Kat and Red Velvet!
How to make your own sweet Martabak at home
Makes: 4 portions
250g all-purpose flour
300 ml warm water
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Our Filling Choice
1. Combine flour with all other dry ingredients: yeast, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
2. Whisk butter into warm water until the butter dissolves.
3. Slowly add dissolved butter mixture into the flour mixture.
4. Add the egg to the flour and butter and water mixture, and whisk until there are no lumps.
5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest for about 1 hour until the batter rises and creates small bubbles. If the batter is too thick, you can add cold water and mix well.
6. Heat a flat thick bottom pan over medium heat. Using a ladle, take about 3-4 scoops of the batter into the pan so it covers the base completely. Press the batter all the way around the edges of the pan to create crispy edges later on.
7. Reduce the heat to low and cook until it creates bubbles on the surface. The pancake will puff up and start to resemble a ‘giant crumpet’. Sprinkle sugar on top of the batter mixture. Leave it to cook for another 10 minutes.
8. Transfer the pancake to a flat surface and spread with butter. Then top half of the pancake with your chosen filling/s.
9. Flip half the pancake over, to cover the other half, then using a knife cut it into slices.
Cook’s Notes: The great thing about making this sweet treat at home, is you can customise it according to your taste and ‘caloric levels’. So if you want to ‘hold back’ on the lashings of shortening, and thick sweet toppings, (unlike the local vendors), you can. We have used butter in our home-made version.
(Recipe Credit: Ibu Mina)
Our top 3 spots to buy Martabak in Jakarta
Jl. Bintaro Utama #78, Sector 9
Jl. Gunawarman 75
Instagram: Martabak Boss (Also located in Tebet Utara Dalam 13, H. Agus Salim 60, Panglima Polim 9, Bintaro and Tomang)
Fat Cat Martabak (in the new Warung around from Mockingbird fine dining)
Jl. Metro Pondok Indah
Instagram: Fat Cat Martabak
- We recommend you always take a ‘good look around’ any local food vendor’s stall before you choose to buy. Looking particularly for general kitchen hygiene and safe food handling.
- It’s OK to ask for just ‘a little shortening’ AKA ‘fat’ on your local Martabak. Simply say ‘Boleh minta sedikit kuning’ ‘May I ask for a little yellow’.
So…who thinks Martabak is worth a try?
Would love to chat about Martabak and your thoughts on how sampling ‘local foods’ can provide a unique window into a country and its culture.
What’s your experience?
See you in the comments section below!
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Words: Liz Photography: a journey bespoke