This restaurant blends Lebanese and Indonesian cuisines for a ‘new kind of flavour’ | CBC News

Metro Morning‘s food guide Suresh Doss joins us every week to discuss one of the many great GTA eateries he’s discovered.

This week, he talked about Teta’s Kitchen, a restaurant that blends Lebanese and Indonesian cooking styles in unique and delicious ways.

Below is a lightly edited transcript of Doss’s conversation with Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa.

Suresh Doss: In the past I would have said you don’t often see two kinds of cuisine mix in Toronto. But in the past decade you are starting to see how — given time — cuisines and people will interact, blending ideas.

There is so much more experimentation now, and it is coming together much more organically. Instead of two cuisines being forced to each other, it is more symbiotic and complimentary. As in today’s example. Teta’s Kitchen. 

This restaurant is run by three women, Mary, Elita and her sister Shirlin. It is a year-old stall in the FLIP Kitchens Food Hall in North York on Yonge Street.

Here you will find this marriage of Lebanese and Indonesian cooking styles.

Gulay ayam padang, an Indonesian chicken curry, at Teta’s Kitchen. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Mary told Doss during an interview: “I approached Elita and she was in. She was like yeah let’s do this. We decided to combine both of our cultures, both of our foods in one place … And then later on it was kind of like a natural progression where we introduced a couple of fusion dishes as well, once we started to work with each others’ cuisine.”

Alfa: I understand Lebanese and Indonesian are cuisines with different flavour profiles and cooking techniques.

Doss: There is some overlap when it comes to certain uses of spices: turmeric, coriander, cumin. But the techniques are quite different. You have the idea of slow cooking that is predominant in one culture.and the idea of freshness and crunch and vegetables in raw form as a focus in the other.

Elita plating the rendang chicken at Teta’s Kitchen. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Teta’s Kitchen really is about this coalescing of yogurt and coconut milk, of rice and pita. Taking the spices that are common in one place, and cooking them using techniques from another. But first let me preface by saying that you will find some classic dishes from each culture on the menu.

One of my favourite dishes here is Elita and Shirlin’s rendang: slow cooked beef where the sauce thickens up over hours and it’s served with a boiled egg that is doused in a fiery red chile sauce, over rice. Mary has this wonderful chicken pita on the menu — marinated chicken in garlic and yogurt that is cooked over charcoal, shish tawouk style. It’s tenderly presented in a pita or on rice. 

This is a place where you can sit down and have a plate of mango salad on your left, and a plate next to it with roasted vegetables coated with drizzles of tahini and parsley and sumac.

Pandan chicken kebab with rice at Teta’s Kitchen. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Alfa: And then there are the hybrid dishes … tell me about those.

Doss: I’ll give you a few examples. There is one dish that they’ve come up with called Pandan Chicken Kebab.

This is the idea of taking cubes of chicken — Mary reimagines it by marinating it with the spices of Indonesia —  and it’s marinated in pandan leaves, lemongrass, lime leaves and other herbs. And then it’s cooked shish tawouk style. The lemongrass and pandan are really complimentary with the way it’s cooked.

There also plenty of vegetarian options and versions of what I am talking about here, like the falafel

Satay ayam, an Indonesan chicken satay with peanut sauce served with lontong (rice cakes). (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Alfa: Is there a unique falafel at Teta’s?

Doss: You can get falafel as you know it, there’s a version with chickpeas and onions, parsley and sumac. And then there’s what Mary and Elita call the “Indo Falafel.” It has a very different but wonderful flavour profile.

Mary told Doss during an interview: “Its basically just a combination of technique and flavour from both cultures. it tastes really good, brings out a new kind of flavour … Nowadays with the merge of cultures especially in a place like Toronto where you have so many different kinds of people, so many different types of foods and ingredients available, why not explore and come up with combinations that might be amazing, which you just never thought of?”

This falafel, it looks familiar, but there is this faint scent of lemongrass and galangal that lands on your table when the plate is presented. And then when you crack into the warm fritters, it just fills up the room. And it makes sense, it doesn’t feel forced.

A falafel wrap served at the restaurant. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

It’s also a flavour profile that stays with you. You remember how the Chile and the galangal accented the chickpea mixture, and in a very respectful way where both streams of influence are respected and used correctly. 

Mary said it best: this is really a great example of how you see the cuisine of Toronto is evolving as minds come together and as our palate matures and widens.

The falafel wrap and pandan chicken kebab at Teta’s Kitchen. (Suresh Doss/CBC)
File source

Show More
Back to top button