Toronto’s First-Ever Indonesian Street Festival Draws a Crowd

Food booths had long lines at the festiva by (RICK MADONIK.


Toronto, MINA – Yonge-Dundas Square buzzed with fantastic smells and sounds Sunday at Toronto’s first Indonesian Street Festival.

Long lines clamoured for beef skewers and spicy rendang, musicians played Indonesian gamelans, and vendors sold traditional garments and crafts.

There are about 3,000 people in Toronto’s Indonesian community, said Hadi Sapio Pambrastoro, Indonesia’s consul general, who hosted the festival as a way to promote Indonesia and introduce more Canadians to its culture.

With more than 17,000 islands and 700 dialects, Indonesia is an incredibly diverse and multicultural archipelago.

“We have a culture in every region, in every tribe,” quoted Pambrastoro as saying, adding that every region has its own special cuisine.


A lot of spices

Food was a key attraction in the square. Besides the beef skewers and rendang, food tents served up of skewers of chicken satay in peanut sauce, vegetable fritters, and chicken rissoles.

“When you’re cooking Indonesian, you’re using a lot of spices, fresh ingredients—sustainable,” said Indra Satria, as he tossed a piece of stuffed tofu. The battered and deep-fried snack is a popular Indonesian street food.

Now a chef in Toronto, Satria grew up cooking with his family in the capital city, Jakarta. There aren’t many Indonesian restaurants in Toronto right now, Satria said, but he wants more people in the city to experience the country’s delicious flavours.

“I’m sure we can compete with Thai food or Malaysian food,” said Satria, who recently helped open an Indonesian restaurant in Mississauga called Samara Kitchen.

“We’re using a lot of good spices, local produce . . . We always put a bold flavour on everything we cook.”

Around the square, vendors sold jewelry, crafts, and batik, the traditional Indonesian fabric.

Yatie Prasasto, a TTC bus driver, loves selling Indonesian scarves and batik whenever she can. She’s lived in Toronto for 32 years, but her home country is “in her blood.”

“I just love to show people, and introduce to people that Indonesia has good material, good batik,” said Prasasto, leafing through a rack of colourful, beautifully patterned garments.

“It is important to me … as an Indonesian Canadian, I like to introduce our heritage.”

On stage, musicians played traditional Indonesian instruments like the gamelan and the angklung. Some dancers travelled from Indonesia just for the festival.

Dancers Allegra Kartika and Patricia Litanidara, who performed a renggong manis, said they love dancing and practice at the Indonesian Embassy before special events.

“Dancing is how we keep the traditional culture from our country,” said Kartika, 20, who moved to Toronto when she was in high school. “It’s important because I don’t want to be not Indonesian, you know?”

Pambrastoro said he hopes the consulate can host an even bigger street festival next year. (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)




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