Updated: Aug 6
I wanted to wish all of you Eid Mubarak. I have made this very old and traditional Indonesian Muslim dish to celebrate this festival.
I remember having these absolutely wonderful snacks in Bali many years ago, crisp, hot and spicy, the perfect bite. I have been looking at this recipe for a long time now and finally decided to give it a try.
The word Mesir means Egypt in Indonesian, but the origins of this tasty treat have roots back to the Indian muslim populations in India who traded with the Middle East. Similar to Turkish borek or Indian samosas, this dish has evolved with Indonesian flavors. Martabak come in different varieties, the original more like a stuffed paratha, or stuffed between filo pastry, and lastly the modern version stuffed in delicate wonton skins. This version is the easiest for me as I cannot make a paratha!
This dish does take time to make, but once you get into the rhythm of making the wontons they are quite easy. They are absolutely delicious, crisp from the thin wonton pastry, spicy from the meat, and the Indonesian sweet and sour dipping sauce adds the final touch that make these irresistible. It took me back to lazy days in Bali, sun, beautiful beaches, cold beers and beautiful people.
Sri Owen is the master of Indonesian cooking, her deep knowledge of the ingredients, the cultures across Java, Sumatra and the other island in the archipelago is unsurpassed. I have a number of her cookbooks, each one a deep dive into the cuisine, culture and history of the land. This and her other cookbooks are highly recommended for any cook that wants to enjoy and master Indonesian cooking.
Also check out her amazing recipe for Laksa on this blog.
For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.
1 lb ground mutton, lamb, beef or chicken
3 tablespoons oil
2 onions, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
1 lemongrass leaf, or 1 inch tender stem, finely minced
Salt to taste
4-5 scallions, sliced finely
6 tablespoons parsley or cilantro, minced
Ready wonton wrappers, round or square
Oil, as needed
Serve with sweet dipping sauce
In a wide and deep frying pan or pot heat the oil on a medium flame. Add the onions and sauté till they are a light golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue sauté till the onions are a light brown and the ginger is cooked.
Add the ground coriander, cumin, chili, turmeric, curry powder if using, lemongrass and salt and stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat and mix well and cook on a medium high flame. Sauté for 10-12 minutes till the meat is cooked through and beginning to turn into small brown crumbles. Throughout this process, break up the lumps in the meat with a wooden spatula till you are left with no lumps. Once browned lightly, take off the heat and taste for salt, spice (you want it to be a touch spicy), and spices like lemongrass. Adjust as needed. Cool completely.
When cool, add in the scallions, herb and eggs. Mix well, I use my hands.
Lay a wonton wrapper (I usually lay out batches of 8) on your counter. Add a tablespoon of the meat mix to one side of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in the middle and press down with your fingers to seal. Most commercial wrappers are very dry, dip your finger in a bowl of water and gently dab the edge of the wrapper on one half with your wet finger. It does not take much water to make the dough sticky and too much will ruin the wrapper. Proceed till you finish all the mat, I usually get about 25-30 wontons.
To fry the wontons, heat a large frying pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add a stuffed wonton and gently press down on it to make the bottom flat so it fries evenly. Repeat with about 6-7 more, I usually work in batches of 8. After 2-3 minutes, depending on your heat, the wonton should be lightly browned. Flip and press down gently again. Add a touch more oil if needed. After you have flipped all the wontons, work on the spots on each wonton that look raw by pressing down on them for 10-15 seconds. You want the wontons cooked evenly all over. They should be ready in about 2-3 more minutes after you flip them.
Serve immediately with Indonesian sweet and sour dipping sauce.