Chameleon – Dublin’s Intimate Indonesian

Chameleon is an intimate and cosy Indonesian restaurant serving contemporary cuisine in the Temple Bar district of Dublin. Opened in 1994, Chameleon has been very successful and has won many prestigious restaurant awards and has been included in “100 best in Dublin 2009”. This speciality restaurant has also been featured in the Bridgestone Guide’s “Best Restaurants in Ireland” every year since opening – which is something rather special for restaurant in what tends to be the very touristy Temple Bar area. Chameleon’s food and unique atmosphere have gained a well-deserved reputation and it is not unusual to see familiar faces returning each week or month to sample the authentic Indonesian cuisine on offer.

Chameleon specialises in Rijst-tafel (which literally means rice table). It is a way of serving Indonesian food that was devised by the Dutch, who first colonised these Spice Islands back in the early 19th century. Rather than eating just one main dish, each diner is served small quantities of several different dishes all at once. This is similar to the Greek meze or Chinese Dim Sum style of eating. The Rijst-tafel is comprised of appetizers, curries, vegetables, noodles and rice dishes. A selection of sambals (spicy chutneys) and pickles are also served as condiments to eat with the meal. At Chameleon, your dinner plate arrives empty, a hot plate is lit to keep the dishes warm and all the food arrives to the table at the same time.

I ordered the “Rijst-tafel Bali” which was quite filling even though it was advertisied for just one person. I was served the following 6 dishes served with steamed jasmine rice and condiments:

SATE AYAM
Free range chicken satay served with our peanut sauce

KARI JAVA
Seasoned balls of Irish lamb in a rich, spicy, Javanese curry sauce

BEEF RENDANG
Irish beef cooked slowly in a spicy coconut milk sauce with cinnamon, tamarind and red chillies

SESAME FRIED VEGETABLES
Seasonal greens wok fried with sautéed onions and toasted sesame seeds

ASINAN
Salad with cucumber, mango chinese leaves with a peanut and black sesame dressing

BAMI GORENG
Wok fried noodles with beansprouts, ginger, garlic & soy sauce

I have travelled to Indonesia many times in the past and have spent much of my time in Bali. Compared to the authentic food I tasted on my travels, I would have to say that Chameleon serves probably the best rijst-tafel I have ever tasted outside of Indonesia. The raised sitting area upstairs is a traditional yet stylish touch and allows diners to experience a sense of culture reminiscent of the Spice Islands of Indonesia. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is travelling to Dublin and wants to try a restaurant that stands out from the crowd.

Chameleon Restaurant
1 Lower Fownes Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
T: +353 1 671 0362
E: book@chameleonrestaurant.com

Images courtesy of the author

Buyers Guide: Kumar’s Curry & Bumbu Sauces

New to the UK is the most amazing range of curry sauces that are like nothing you will have ever tasted before. Kumar’s curry sauces and bumbu’s will give you the true taste of South Asian cuisine in convenient ready-to-use pots that are now available in the UK for home delivery. “Bumbu” is the Indonesian word for spice or seasoning. Bumbu commonly appears in the names of spice mixtures, sauces and seasoning pastes from countries within Southern Asia.

Kumar’s range of 13 fresh curry sauces and bumbu’s take you right back to the literal “roots” of many familiar sounding, and some less well-known curry dishes, originating from southern India, Thailand and Indonesia. The curries and bumbu’s eaten by the people of Southern Asia are typically a much dryer dish than the anglicised versions of curry we are familiar with in the UK and these authentic dishes also contain many fresh ingredients that simply cannot be bought locally over here.

For those who want a more authentic taste experience, help is at hand from Suresh Kumar who is a talented Malaysian chef working for the Verstegen food group. Suresh knows nothing about the fake anglicised curries the British have suffered over the years. He bases his recipes purely on his own knowledge of ingredients from Southern Asia which he combines with the expertise necessary to carefully blend and balance the many complex flavours contained within every Kumar’s sauce and bumbu paste.

These ready-to-use sauces are very thick and paste-like when you first open the pots. Kumar’s sauces are not runny or full of oil like those that we have become accustomed to using. Preparing a curry at home couldn’t be simpler with the help of Suresh’s delicious and easy-to-use sauces. Just add the entire pot of sauce to 500g of seared meat, fish or vegetables, stir well, and simmer. You can always add a little water to the sauce to thin out the consistency or add plain yoghurt if you want a milder flavour.

Kumar’s sauces are nothing like the sickly sweet, creamy, violently coloured, flavour enhanced imposters being sold under the name of curry sauces in Britain today. Be warned that your palate could be pleasantly surprised by the unfamiliar spicy sensations you experience the first time you taste the curries, especially with the ones you think you are already familiar with.  The Kumar range includes Korma, Madras, Tikka Masala and Vindaloo sauces as well as some special Indonesian varieties and they are all available for home delivery.

Making the effort to cook with the more unfamiliar sauces from Indonesia is highly recommended for a new taste sensation. Use Kumar’s Rendang Sauce to make a classic Indonesian Beef Rendang curry . Chicken goes very well with Kumar’s Bumbu Bali Sauce. Slow-cooked pork is delicious cooked in Kumar’s Babi Ketjap Sauce. For a tasty duck curry, use Kumar’s Besengek Sauce to make an authentic Indonesian dish known as Bebek Besengek.

Suresh Kumar shares his great passion for south Asian cuisine with a growing customer following here in the UK. His aim is to blend inspiration, generations of knowledge and fresh ingredients together in perfect balance, leading you to new experiences, lasting memories and most importantly, flavoursome authentic South East Asian cooking that you will truly love to prepare and enjoy with friends and family for many years to come.

Kumar’s sauces are available by mail order from Verstegen Direct. Each 350g tub costs £3.99 plus P&P. Check out their website today for the special introductory offer of any 6 varieties from the Kumar’s range for only £19.98 with free UK delivery.

Images reproduced from verstegen-direct.co.uk