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Many of the Same Ingredients Used : Indonesians Offer Cooking Similar to Other Southeast Asian Cuisines

January 23, 1986|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

The annual International Folk Dance Festival is back in town with 400 dancers from around the world scheduled to appear Saturday evening at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center.

This time, among the 14 international groups represented will be a troupe of Balinese dancers performing the hypnotic monkey chant dance, lead by I. Nyoman Wenten, an instructor of dance and music at California Institute of the Arts.

The dance, according to Wenten, is filled with the movements depicting wild tension characterizing the struggle of the Hindu god, Rama, and Sugriwa, king of the monkey kingdom, to which Rama had been banished. Rama had been summoned by the king to help him overthrow a twin brother who had kidnaped his wife. The combat is witnessed by a circle of monkeys, as Rama, fingers outstretched and quivering, eyes darting, legs stamping, wins in the struggle of good over evil.

The dance group, which is under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, is made up of native Indonesians living in Southern California who often prepare native foods for get-togethers.

Sampled a Typical Menu

During pre-festival activities, we sampled a typical menu for lunch, which, according to Dewi Dja, the group's choreographer, whose sister Dewi Gusnah prepared six dishes, is considered "simple" by Indonesian standards.

"At dinner there would be 10 or 12 dishes to be eaten with steamed rice, including several meat and fish dishes," she said. The entrees and salads are served hot or cold around rice, to which they are added at will.

Indonesian cooking is much like the other Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, which American restaurant diners have learned to enjoy. Many of the same ingredients--lemon grass, coconut milk, chiles, cilantro--are used. Curry mixtures were influenced by East Indians immigrating throughout Southeast Asia.

Among the dishes is a rice noodle dish mixed with red and white onions, peppers and various vegetables called panca warna mihun , which can be found in numerous variations throughout the Orient. A fried dish of tempe , potato and onions served with a chile sauce; chicken curry made with coconut milk ( Opor Ayam ), and fried rice ( Nasi Goreng ) with scrambled eggs and shrimp added also have counterparts in neighboring lands. Tempe , however, a soybean product made like tofu, is heavily used as protein food, especially for lunch in Indonesia, according to Dja.

The Gado Gado , a salad considered part of the ensemble of dishes, is a colorful vegetable concoction served with peanut sauce, equivalent to a salad dressing. The salad is made with an assortment of available vegetables (generally green beans, bean sprouts, carrots, lettuce and onions) and hard-cooked eggs. It's served with puffy, crisp, prawn crackers, which now are increasingly available in Oriental food stores.

Following are the recipe for the Gado Gado to serve as a buffet meal with peanut sauce, and a few of the accompanying entrees to round out the menu. For dessert try cut tropical fruit, such as pineapple, papaya, mango and kiwi, served in an attractive design on a tray.

Tickets to the dance festival are available through the Music Center box office or Teletron charge lines, (213) 410-1062 and (714) 634-1300. For special group rates, contact the International Concerts Exchange at (213) 272-5539. Actor Lew Ayres will host the Irwin Parnes production.


(Opor Ayam)

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken

1 onion

2 large cloves garlic

5 kemiri nuts or macadamia nuts

1 (1-inch) piece ginger root, peeled

1 (3-inch) piece lemon grass stalk or 1 thin strip lemon peel

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon ground laos (Indonesian spice)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups fresh coconut milk or 1 (12-ounce) can frozen coconut milk

Cut chicken into pieces, separating legs and thighs. Cut wings apart at first joint. Grind onion, garlic, nuts, ginger and lemon grass together in food processor, grinder or blender.

Heat oil in Dutch oven. Add ground onion mixture, laos, coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add chicken pieces and stir a few seconds to mix with spices but do not brown. Add salt, bay leaves and water. Stir.

Cover and simmer gently 45 minutes. Uncover and stir in coconut milk. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes longer or until sauce has reduced slightly and chicken is tender. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Makes 4 servings.


4 or 5 carrots

1/2 pound green beans

1/2 bunch Chinese or plain cabbage, thinly sliced

1/2 pound bean sprouts


2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered or sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled and sliced or quartered

1 cucumber, peeled, scored and sliced

Peanut Sauce

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