Celebrity chef Petty Elliott in collaboration with the Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place organized a cooking class on February 24 to support the Learning Farm Indonesia, a foundation that empowers vulnerable youths to become independent and contributing members of the community.

“We really think that the Learning Farm Indonesia is amazing,” Petty said prior to the class. “This is our way to support the foundation. In December, there was a fundraiser event, and the ladies – and one gentleman – who are here today were bidding for this cooking class, with the proceeds going to the foundation.”

The enthusiastic group of food aficionados listened intently when Petty introduced Indonesia’s culinary heritage and different cooking styles the country has inherited over the past centuries.

“Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population, but nobody knows what Indonesian cuisine actually is,” she said. “Mostly, people only know nasi goreng, gado-gado or redang, but we have such a rich regional cuisine.”

Petty presented essential local condiments, herbs and spices to the participants, explaining how each adds to the rich and unique flavors that make up Indonesian food.

After the introduction, it was time to get down to business, as Petty showed the participants of the class how to prepare three Indonesian dishes: Rujak Buah (tropical fruit salad served with sweet, spicy and tangy tamarind and palm sugar dressing), Manadonese Risotto (Tinutuan, Bubur Manado) and Bubur Sumsum (Indonesian style pannacotta with palm sugar syrup and roasted ground cashew).

“The most beautiful thing about these dishes is that they are actually all quite easy to make,” Petty said as she enlisted the participants to help her chop, stir and – of course – taste her delectable creations, while sharing useful tips and tricks.

Rujak is probably Jakarta’s most popular street food,” she said about the appetizer. “To give it a bit of a twist, I am using a vegetable peeler to create a different texture. One of the key ingredients here is the tamarind, as it provides the dish with a tang.”

If tropical fruits are not readily available, they can be replaced with apples, salad leaves, cucumbers or carrots, she added.

“I love to use carrots for my Rujak, because I like my food to be colorful,” Petty said.

After preparing the risotto as well as the dessert, the group sat down at the wonderfully set table to have lunch, consisting of the three courses that Petty had just taught them.

It was almost impossible to pick a favorite, as each dish had a distinctive flavor, but those with a sweet tooth were absolutely enthralled by the dessert – and rightly so! It is no wonder that Bubur Sumsum is one of President Jokowi’s favorite dishes, as Petty revealed.

As the lovely lunch came to a close, the participants not only went home with a full and happy belly, but also with the satisfaction of knowing that they are now able to prepare these dishes themselves – and most of all, with the pleasant feeling that they have been cooking (and eating) for a good cause. 

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge is a previous editor of NOW! Jakarta. An experienced writer and avid bookworm.