Martabak & Terang Bulan
Surabaya, like many other large urban areas on Java, is a haven for street food lovers. Although Indonesia’s second largest city is not (yet) big with international travellers, the locals are known to have a penchant for snacking, thus explaining the large number of roadside food sellers. Each evening, these vendors ply their trade along popular thoroughfares, selling food in makeshift tents or from the back of a goods van.
Watching our order of Martabak being prepared
One of the more common street foods that you will find in the city is Martabak, an Indonesian version of a Middle Eastern dish called Mutabbaq. Online sources say the original name means ‘folded over’, which comes as no surprise. Martabak, sometimes called Martabak Telur (Egg Martabak), or Martabak Asin (Savory Martabak), consists of a thin dough crust filled with copious amounts of eggs, meat, and what looks like scallions. The dough is then folded to form an envelope around the fillings, and allowed to cook on a flat pan. Before serving, the Martabak is cut into bite sized pieces, and is usually served with pickled cucumbers and chilli (acar). For those who have been to Singapore or Malaysia, the Indonesian Martabak is similar yet markedly different from what is normally sold in those two countries.
A box of mouth-watering Martabak Daging Sapi (Beef Martabak)
Terang Bulan, which literally means ‘moonlight’, is a different beast altogether. We are not sure of its history, but looking at the pancake-like base, it too probably had a beginning in a faraway place. Unlike Martabak, Terang Bulan is a sweet dish, and the dough used is thick and pancake-like. First the dough is cooked in round cast iron pans to form a base. When it’s done, the full-moon shaped base is cut into two semicircles, each slathered generously with margarine, and layered with a selection of toppings before they are stacked together. Popular toppings include chocolate, peanuts, grated cheese (yes, it’s true), or a combination thereof. For some unclear reason, Terang Bulan and Martabak is almost always sold together. Indeed, in parts of Indonesia, Terang Bulan is also called Martabak Manis (Sweet Martabak).
Stoves for cookingTerang Bulan
Have your Terang Bulan tailored to your taste
The stall we visited was called ‘Eiffelly’. They seem to be a franchise of-sort, with several outlets spread across Surabaya. We placed an order for Martabak Daging Sapi (Beef, IDR 18,000) and a Terang Bulan Spesial Keju Coklat (Cheese and Chocolate Special, IDR 27,000). As we were the first customer for the evening, the sellers went straight down to preparing our orders. The layout of the ‘kitchen’ was pretty simple; one side was used to cook Martabak, the other to cook Terang Bulan. Each side is manned by one staff. That way, each person need only to focus on one dish, and the risk of a mix up is minimized.
We watched the cooks skilfully prepare our orders, and in no time, two boxes of Martabak and Terang Bulan were ready for collection. We have to say that taste-wise both were excellent, especially the Martabak. The combination of crunchy crust with fluffy egg-heavy fillings was quite unforgettable. If both Martabak and Terang Bulan sound appetizing to you, we recommend trying both. Each is a unique mix of culinary traditions, and a (delicious) testament to the vibrant melting pot of culture that is Indonesia.