Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Batak Karo, Extremes In Cuisine

Situated in the cool and pleasant Batak highlands, is a charming little town called Kabanjahe that is home to the loud and expressive Batak Karo people with an age-old culture.

The town, about two hours drive south of Medan, is also the epicenter of a traditional culinary scene that will astound even the most adventurous eaters.

Batak people are majority Christian and so are not restricted to halal food. Many of the area’s best meals are made with pork, but there are also halal dishes, as well as meals made from unusual ingredients.

For pork lovers there are fried cutlets, sauteed pork in thick spicy sauces and babi panggang (roast pig) karo — often shortened to BPK — which is adored by locals and has become nationally famous.

BPK consists of roasted pork slices with three accompaniments: a bowl of broth made from the essence of boiled pig’s bones, a platter of porcine blood cooked with pepper and chili, and a saucer of extra-hot chili sauce. Grab a plate, scoop in the rice and eat with your hands the way the locals do — you may well find yourself asking for seconds.

Rumah Makan Mariras on Jalan Jamin Ginting that connects Kabanjahe to the town of Berastagi and Medan, serves these fabulous pork dishes. It is usually visited by droves of hungry guests during lunch hours, but closes in the early afternoon.

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