“Hardly any of us visit the islands of Indonesia, and that’s the only reason why the cuisine is relatively unknown in India. What other explanation can there be?” This is Suddha Kukreja’s take on Indonesian food, which has a resonance with Indian food. Both cuisines depend on long cooking times, plenty of spices and relatively few herbs. “Thai and Vietnamese food is the opposite,” opines Kukreja, the owner of Blanco, one of the restaurants in Khan Market. She ought to know. She has spent over a decade in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, sampling the flavours of the curries, soups and plethora of rice dishes of this cuisine. That’s why she thought of the festival “Warung” in Blanco.
Warung means dhaba in Bahasa, the language of both Malaysia and Indonesia that Kukreja speaks fluently. Every street corner has a small shack where meals are ready. Usually, a dozen different dishes are ready prepared and are served to the customers who walk in, at whatever time of the day. Nothing is warmed up in a true blue warung: the food is eaten at room temperature, and you pay for each dish that you order: two vegetables, one portion of rice and a fried fish or one beef curry, one roast chicken, an egg curry and fried fish.
Blanco, the all-white restaurant, became the venue of a rather unlikely warung for a couple of weeks. You could order as much of the Indonesian menu as you liked, or as little, and team it up – or not – with the rest of your order. The festival did so well that Kukreja is tempted to open an Indonesian restaurant, called – what else? – warung.