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The Jakarta Post, Wednesday, June 20,2001


Jakarta (JP): OK, OK, enough of the little nudges and knowing wink wich always seem to appear when people talk Acehnese cuisine.

Ganja leaves  are a tradisional flavour enhancer in the cooking, and  that is why it is said police will turn a blind eye if they find a small stock of the green stuff in the Acehnesse kitchen.

But ganja or not is something Ibu Ratna Dwikora, the owner of Seulawah, an Acehnesse Restourant at Jl KH Mas Mansyur 9C, at the back of  Sahid Jaya Hotel and few meters from the Karet Cemetery in Central Jakarta, would rather not talk about.

She acknowledged that she brought the original curry powder from her homeland and  that, yes it probably had a little of the hot stuff mixed into it. Subject closed. Now, lets try out the food on the menu at this restourant named after a mountain in Aceh.

Open : 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Peak hour are lunch time.

What’s It Got: Acehnesse delicacies strongly influenced by Arabian and Indian  cuisines – many of the dishes are spiced with lots of pepper and the special curry powder from Ratna’s home area of Pidie.

Spicy curries with coconut milk include gulai bebek (duck curry), gulai kepala ikan kakap (fish head curry), gulai ikan hiu (shark curry), , gulai telor ikan (fish egg curry), kari kambing (goat curry), gulai ayam ( ckicken curry) and cow curry brain.

Vegetarian can try Ratna’s vegetables, which is alsso spiced with curry powder, kuah pli’u(mixed vegetables in a yellow, rather watery curry)  and sayur dalica (mixed vegetables and fruit with an Indian touch).

If you aare worried about clogged enteries, try out some coconut milk-free dishes, primarily fish smothered in chili, such as asam ke’eung ( fish with green chilies in a yellowish, thin gravy with the distinctive flavor of sour carambola), keumamah or ikan kayu ( spicy shredded and dried tuna) and pepes ikan (steamed spicy fish wrapped in banana leaves)

There is a variety of  rice dishes, such as nasi goring kambing ( fried rice with mutton), nasi biryani ( a take on the Indian baked rice dish, with mutton and spices such as pepper,  cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, coriander and curry powder, plus coconut milk and raisins), served with pacri (a type of pineapple chutney), and nasi guri ( rice with meat, anchovies and spiced grated coconut).

Also on the menu is roti cane, a pan-fried  bread eaten with souce – another nod to Indian food

There is shrimp in chili souce – known by the acehnese as sambal ganja – and traditional cakes like timphan (made of glutinous rice frour, pumpkin , egg, sugar and cocnut milk, and flavored with screw pine leaves), plus rujak Aceh (mango, cucumber, papaya, pineapple slices in spicy dressing).

Price Point : Reasonable; our lunch party of four spent only Rp. 84.000,- for main menu trough dessert,  On a different Sunday lunch time visit, it was Rp 42.500,-  for two piece of duck curry (Rp 9.000 per piece), two small portion of rice (Rp 2,000 per serving) and mutton curry (Rp 7,500) per portion

Look : Its look no different from Padangs Restourant, with a plates of food stacked at the glass front  window. It’s bright colored walls and white ceramic floor were clean and free of flies. Acommodates about 40 dinners. There small parking

Popular with ..: Many Indians and Arabs, according to Ratna, as well as office workers from the Sudirman office and Cassablanca areas.

Taste Factor:  Good in small portions of nasi briyani, keumamah, asam ke’eung, and rujak Aceh, they were spicy but not going to have you plead for another glass of water

The duck curry was rather disappointing as the meat was tough. The mutton and fish egg curries were spiced like Padang food


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