May 22, 2008

Why, What, Who?

What's in a name?

It happened several years ago when I was living in southern California. I wanted to make a big batch of an iced drink/dessert to enjoy over many hot summer days. Most of the time I would just make a version of es campur (lit. 'mixed ice'): a medley of canned and/or fresh fruit, some jelly/agar/nata-de-coco, then a snowy mound of shaved ice (or simply plenty of ice cubes) and drizzles of syrup and sweetened condensed milk.

But this time I was craving for something different. I started experimenting with some ideas and inspirations that came from many different sources, I just needed to see if they would work well together.

After a few tries, I finally created an iced dessert that uses cucumber to provide the primary texture and pandan (screwpine leaf) to 'perfume' it. The humble cucumber is widely available and is used in many cuisines around the world. Pandan is practically the 'vanilla' in southeast Asian desserts.

The combination worked very well, it was somehow both familiar and unexpected. It was a hit whenever I brought it to parties, BBQ or any get-together. People asked for the recipe and pregnant friends even had cravings for it.

I'll post a complete recipe of this original (as far as I know) dessert later. Stay tuned!

A little bit about me...

After living for more than two decades in the United States, I am now back living in my hometown of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, since 2008.

I'm not a professional chef or cook by any means, the closest connection I have to a profession in the culinary world is a brief stint as a waitress at a Japanese restaurant in Norwalk, CA. But my love of cooking began in childhood in Jakarta. I remember clipping, collecting and cooking from recipes I found in magazines since I was still in elementary school. Then later when I was living in southern California, my exposure to other cuisines of the world was increased exponentially, thanks to Los Angeles' multi-ethnic demographic (and also countless hours of watching cooking shows on PBS and then years later, on Food Network). There I also began collecting cookbooks, which I insisted on bringing back home to Jakarta (my husband had to stop me from buying more!). They sure represented quite a portion of the weight of the entire shipment.

I love to read food blogs from around the world, my favorites are the ones that not only describe the meal, but also allow glimpses to the life, people, culture and history that surround it.

Oh, I also love to write.

So here's cucumber pandan. Thank you for reading!


  1. Nice blog!! I too like to Jajan around Jakarta, in fact I found this blog while searching for new places to eat in!

  2. Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.