The things back home in Indonesia that I miss the most is the street food, nothing can compare the pleasure of having Rujak, bakso, gorengan, etc. Too bad (or on the contrary.. its good?) that United Arab Emirates (UAE) government is quite strict about this, they are not allowing anyone to sell/having business without permits.. especially street food.
Although most of the people staying here prefer to eat out (wonder why… either too busy at work or too lazy to cook!), UAE Ministry of Health have firm rules about this matter. No restaurant can operate without following the policies from the ministry, even for the smallest canteen!
Because of these strict systems, the chance to enjoy these street food delicacies is very slim. The only information I got about the street food of other countries are just by stories from my colleagues and friends, then if I’m lucky enough I will find those items among the ‘starter/appetizer’ menu in a restaurant. At least I can have a taste of it… although I’m sure the enjoyment is much less than having it in the road-side!
In general, Indonesian street’s food is almost the same as Philippines and India. Well… Mostly India. Me and my Filipino friends will agree on most Chinese-type food like siomay, taho/tahu takwa/tahu chakwa (the difference is we eat it with ginger syrup, in Philipines only with regular sweet syrup), etc.
While my Indian friends will be astonished to know that among all those cuisine similarities we also have putu, vegetable fritters (Surabayan called it as ote-ote, many others say it bakwan), and road-side omelets or martabak, as we say. To my surprise I never had seen any martabak here in Arab countries, whilst in Indonesia martabak is mostly associated with ‘Arab’ cuisine. Talking about misinterpretation
Introducing Pani Puri
Anywayy… among all other street food I found here, there is one that become my favorite instantly. Pani Puri, one of Indian street’s food. Pani means water, and Puri is what they called for a unleavened deep-fried bread . The rich taste of sweet, sour, and chili-hot is really a feast on my Indonesian tongue.
The unique thing about Pani Puri is, you have to eat it as fast as you can. The waiter /server will prepare the Pani Puri, then you have to eat it right away or else the the puri will not crisp anymore and the ‘pani’ will leak, so much to spoil the savor. Don’t worry, the server is so skillful that they finish preparing just right after you put the Pani Puri in your mouth. The sensation of having chilled and hot gravy – not to mention eating it quickly – is amazing!