10/06/21 4:34pm

Breakfast of Indonesian Champions

Even before I moved to the World’s Borough I’d often receive culinary gifts from abroad. In the 90s I befriended a Peruvian lady who sold ceviche out of a cooler. She bought me back a brick of King Kong, a famous and comically huge dessert of short bread slabs alternating with fruit spread and manjarblanco, or Peruvian dulce de leche.

These days things are no different. One of my favorite culinary gifts is a very special Indonesian bread called Matahari Roti that my friend Fefe Ang of Elmhursts fabled Indonesian Food Bazaar has given me on several occasions. Ask any Indonesian—go ahead I’ll wait—and they’ll recount fond childhood memories of this rich and sweet treat infused with rombutter, or Dutch style churned butter. Somewhere along the way I thought someone called it toast, so I’ve been toasting it and having it with my morning coffee. Turns out that might actually not be the right way to enjoy this very special loaf.

“You’ve been toasting it?” my friend Nigel Sielegar who hails from Surabaya, Indonesia exclaimed in mock surprise when I paid him a recent visit at the Queens Night Market. “It’s supposed to be gooey and buttery, just microwave it for like 30 seconds.”

Sielegar runs the wildly popular Moon Man stand at the Queens Night Market where he sells delectable Indonesian coconut pancakes as well as kaya jam, a coconut based confection. I purchased a jar of the pandan flavor, which is just delightful on the gooey properly cooked Matahari bread.

Incidentally not only did Sielegar teach me how to enjoy this childhood Indonesian treat, he helped me translate the verbiage on the packaging. Turns out Matahari is not named for the Dutch spy/exotic dancer but rather means “sun” in Indonesian, hence the rising sun on the packaging.

I have four slices left in my package of Matahari Roti and will try to dutifully eat them the proper way, but might experiment with microwaving then toasting. A cursory Google search reveals that may be possible to score this childhood treat online. Moon Man’s kaya jam is far easier to come by and can be bought here, or at the Night Market. Best of all its delicious on any kind of bread, toasted or not!

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