Acar: Indonesian pickle

Acar: Indonesian pickle

Recipes for two versions of acar (pronounced ‘achar’). Acar is sort of versatile, Indonesian version of Branston pickle. Acar simply means ‘pickle’. Like Branston it’s made from chopped vegetables, including carrots and onions, pickled in vinegar sweetened with sugar, and zhooshed up with spices. The difference is that it is served as a side dish, and is eaten with just about any main dish you could imagine, including barbecued meat, satay, and grilled fish.

Awesome aubergine!

Awesome aubergine!

Aubergine has to be up there among my absolute favourite vegetables. And probably the most versatile. Here are two easy, delicious, aubergine recipes. One is a Chinese vegetable dish; the other a starter or snack from Georgia—as in the country on the Black Sea, not the US state. My first time making a Georgian recipe.

Pasta primavera?

Pasta primavera?

The quickest, easiest pasta dish of all. And one of the most delicious. The only cooking is to boil the water for the pasta. As soon as it starts to feel like winter is over, the sun is getting warmer, the evenings becoming longer—that’s when I think about making pasta primavera again.

The dish is all about the fresh flavours of the raw ingredients: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese, garlic, olive oil (extra virgin of course), with a hit of salty umami from the black olives.

Quick and easy: fried rice

Quick and easy: fried rice

This is probably the best known Indonesian dish of all. Nasi goreng, like some of Italy’s tastiest dishes, was originally a way of using up cooked rice. Food is not wasted in Indonesia—particularly semi-sacred rice. Traditionally it would be served for breakfast, using what was left over from the previous day’s dinner. It is a dish that perfectly symbolises these times of scarcity and belt-tightening. As befits a dish designed to use up leftovers for breakfast, it is dead easy to make. Essentially, fry chopped ingredients in a pan, add the rice, stir, and serve. Ingredient quantities are not critical.

Simple recipe for grim times

Simple recipe for grim times

I’m not going to use the C word, but you all know what I mean when I say “grim times”. The last thing anyone wants to think about right now is elaborate dinners. But we all have to eat, and I thought my friends and followers might appreciate some ideas for what to cook while we’re limited to shopping at the nearest supermarket (and hoping that their shelves aren’t empty!)

Here’s the first of some recipes that don’t require difficult-to-find ingredients, and which might add some interesting variety to the usual repertoire. This one is from Manado, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia’s fourth biggest island. It doesn’t have to be blow-your-head off hot, but it does offer a bit of a flavour explosion!

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