July 16, 2009

Martabak Manis (Sweet Martabak)

My favorite: cheese-filled martabak manis.

I'm not sure of the proper English translation, but as you can see, martabak manis* resembles a super-thick pancake/crepe with fillings. But that description doesn't really do it justice.

Hardly anyone here makes it at home, people simply buy them from martabak vendors. It's always made to order and the martabak vendor begins by pouring the batter onto a special martabak cast-iron pan. The thick batter has yeast and also coconut milk that contributes to its richness. The cooked 'pancake' is thick, chewy and toothsome ... and ready to receive one or more delicious fillings!

Top inset : butter up!
Main photo and bottom inset : a thick blanket of shredded cheese.

While it's still hot off the pan, the vendor slathers lots of butter on the pockmarked side (where it immediately melts into the nooks and crannies) and then he heaps on the filling(s) of your choice: grated cheese, meisjes (chocolate sprinkles), crushed peanuts, toasted sesame seed, sliced bananas, or even durian! (I never tried the one with durian, I think it's overkill on an already rich snack).

Next, everything gets generously coated with ribbons of sweetened condensed milk. Then the martabak is folded in half, more butter is smeared on the outside, and then it's cut into serving pieces.

And there you go: a totally indulgent sweet snack (and definitely not for those on a diet) in less than 10 minutes. Happy tastebuds, greasy fingers and chins dribbled with melted butter are guaranteed!

*another very popular snack here called Martabak Telor/Martabak Asin is a totally different dish in how it's cooked, its ingredients and flavors (telor = egg, asin = salty). But it's very delicious as well. Maybe next time...

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