I am not a citizen of Pare, Kediri. But sometimes for my business (Kampung Inggris) or familial trip, I have to visit this lovable town. Then, I found these unique food and beverage.
Nasi Puyuh (Rice with Fried Quail)
Do you know nasi ayam (cooked rice with fried or grilled chicken)? It’s too common in Indonesia. Nasi bebek (duck)? You can find such cuisine everywhere. Nasi burung dara (pigeon)? It is a bit difficult to get, yet can still be found in some food stalls or restaurants. How about nasi puyuh? This is so rare. Usually, people like quail’s eggs. You know, the egg that is only a bit bigger than a marble. On its shell, there are some small black spots.
To my knowledge, only in Pare, we can meet nasi puyuh. Want to try? Easy, just go to a small stall in Pelem Village, right at the roadside of Kediri-Jombang/Malang highway, exactly in front of the mosque. But please note that their carte du jour are nasi ayam and nasi bebek. Meanwhile, the quail rice or nasi puyuh is merely a special dish, which isn’t always served.
FYI, mostly, they cook rejected birds, i.e. the quails that have lost capability of producing eggs. The breeders, from the beginning, have no intention to breed quails for the meats, but only for the eggs. Maybe if nasi puyuh becomes popular dish one day, the breeders will begin to breed quails for meats.
I myself am keen on nasi puyuh. Imagine cooked rice with two fried quails. Well-fried! So they feel crunchy, soft and savory on your tongue. Quail’s meat does not taste like chicken. Well, actually, it’s hard to compare with other birds’ meats. You should try it yourself to define the quail’s taste. Those quails are served on a mortar of sambal (chili sauce). Furnished by some beans, basil and cabbage leaves. Mm, my saliva is almost dripping writing this article.
Legen Nira (Toddy of Nira)
At Kandangan Street, ahead of a soto (meat soup) stall, an old woman sells unfermented toddy from coconuts called legen. Unlike common legen, this beverage tastes simply sweet, without a sensation of sour or carbonation. Touch it, the water would be a bit sticky on your fingers.
Legen is a unique beverages of Tuban, Lamongan and Gresik regions. It is sweet, sour, and carbonated like Coca Cola. When you store it more than few days, legen can be fermented further and becomes alcoholic. We named this fermented beverage tuwak, instead of legen.
By the way, do you know where legen comes from? It is from siwalan tree, a kind of palm tree that grows at the north coast of East Java. Once the flower stalk of siwalan cut, it releases sap. That fluid is the main ingredient of legen. Drinking legen with some ice, especially under the blazing tropical sun, is very recommended!
However, in Pare, Kediri, I discover a new kind of legen. It’s called legen nira, made of coconut, not siwalan. Same with the collecting process of legen, we cut coconut’s flowers stalk, and we get sap or juice. We usually cooked nira to brown Javanese sugar. But, sometimes we process it into delicious beverage too. This is what I am talking about.
I am pretty sure there are other regions that also serve legen nira. However, this one is typical Pare. You must try it, if you ask me. [photos from sphotos-d.ak.fbcdn.net & ryan-isra.net]
Written by Moch. Yusuf, The Course Coordinator for Kampung Inggris. You may like his other articles about Kediri: