The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Somersworth Indonesian Fair

Where: Memorial Drive, Somersworth 
When: Saturday, Sept. 24, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Visit: Search “Somersworth Indonesian Fair” on Facebook for event page with more information. 

Eats from the islands
Fair features wide range of Indonesian cuisine

By Angie Sykeny

 Get a taste of the many flavors that make up Indonesia’s cuisine, and experience the nation’s arts, entertainment and culture, at the Somersworth Indonesian Fair hosted by Friends of Somersworth and Indonesian Representatives of New Hampshire on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Memorial Drive in downtown. 

Formerly known as the Jakarta Fair, named after the capital of Indonesia, the fourth annual event has been renamed this year so that it encompasses all of Indonesia rather than just the capital. The nation’s regional diversity will be highlighted among the participating food vendors, who come from Indonesian communities based in New Hampshire, in Boston and New England, in Maryland and in New York to represent some of Indonesia’s islands at the fair.  
“Indonesia has tons of islands with their own types of food,” said Raude Raychel, head of the fair planning committee. “Some may have the same main foods, but there will be one island that does it spicy, another that does it sweet and another that does it salty, so what we’re trying to do is highlight the traditional flavors from different islands.” 
The food selection will feature around 50 signature dishes from Indonesian islands, including lemper ayam (a sweet sticky rice with sweet chicken, wrapped in banana leaves), fried banana cakes, panada (fried dough with spicy tuna fillings), a variety of egg rolls and other rolls, bakwan sayur (vegetable fritters), Indonesian tempura and es teler (drink made of shaved ice, coconut, avocado and other fruits). 
For a traditional dish that captures the overall essence of Indonesian cuisine, Raychel recommends the nasi kuning, a yellow rice cooked with coconut milk and turmeric, served with chicken or beef and veggies or eggs in a spicy chilli sauce. 
The most popular food at the fair is sate, which is a grilled and seasoned meat skewered like a kabob and served with a sauce. Raychel says you can’t go wrong with the sate ayam, a chicken skewer with peanut sauce.
“There’s beef sate, chicken sate, spicy sate, a lot of kinds. It’s one of the things that’s very common at the event and will be probably be sold by many different vendors,” she said. “In the past we had a vendor who brought 1,500 sate, and it was all gone in an hour or two, so it’s definitely one of the top selling foods.”
Since some of the ingredients and spices used in Indonesian cuisine aren’t widely available in New Hampshire or even the country, not all of the food at the fair will be fully authentic. Still, with vendors coming from various states and communities with access to other types of ingredients, there will be a number of authentic and uncommon dishes at the fair that aren’t typically offered at area restaurants and markets.
“Sometimes, the Asian populations in New York and Boston can get certain spices that we don’t have, so at least with them here it makes some of the food a little more similar [to authentic Indonesian food], and that’s really nice,” Raychel said. 
Visitors can purchase food to eat on site at the event or to take home. With so many dishes to choose from, she said it was important to offer a takeout option so that people can try everything they want without being limited by how much they can eat in an afternoon, and so they can bring some back for their family and friends to try.  
In addition to the food, the fair will have a fashion show of traditional costumes and performances of traditional dances from different islands, a flag-raising demonstration, music performed on an ancient Southeast Asian instrument called a kulintang, an Indonesian spices vendor, various cultural exhibits and information booths with community resources for the Indonesian community. 
Though the fair has been expanded this year to include more cultural activities, Raychel said the food is still the main draw. 
“In the past when it was Jakarta Fair, it focused on nothing but the food,” she said. “It’s different this year because we’re offering other things to try to educate people about Indonesia, but food is still the No. 1 thing. We want everyone to come see all the different types of food.”

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