“The winner this time around, though, was the Mendol. With a hint of galangal and some chillies, it was rich in flavour and instantly became my new favourite food.“
Hj. Musilah first peddled her signature Pecel (Javanese salad in peanut sauce) around Malang back in 1972. By 1975, her hard work had paid off as by that time she already managed to open up a permanent shop called Pecel Kawi. Fast forward to 2016, and the now 84-year-old lady is reaping the rewards from her initial struggle. Her granddaughter-cum-apprentice Widasi currently runs the eatery, and in her good hands, the eatery has preserved its position as the city’s favourite Pecel joint.
It was just after lunchtime when I made my way to Pecel Kawi. The place was devoid of customers, which made question its reputation, although admittedly it was in the wake of probably the busiest time for any dining venue. Widasi was in the kitchen when I called out for her. She then took up my order and immediately went back inside to prepare the peanut sauce. I observed as she threw boiled vegetables, long beans, bean sprouts, cucumber slices, and lemon basil on to a plate. Then she poured the recently mixed sauce on top of them. Before she handed me my food, she asked if I would like to try out some of the side dishes that were placed on the counter. One of them was a dark-coloured oval-shaped tempeh – she would later inform me that it is called Mendol (deep-fried smashed tempeh with spices) – which I opted for.
I carried my plate over to my table and began to sample the dish. The fresh and crisp vegetables represent Widasi’s excellent know-how in selecting ingredients. The peanut sauce was a tad spicy, which pleased my taste buds no end. The winner this time around, though, was the Mendol. With a hint of galangal and some chillies, it was rich in flavour and instantly became my new favourite food. Before leaving, I went up to Widasi and asked her if she would be willing to share the recipe to her Mendol. Fortunately, she was more than happy to oblige with my request. If Hj. Musilah was here, she would be happy knowing that her granddaughter has continued her good work by ensnaring another steadfast customer.
Jl. Kawi Atas No. 43B,
Malang, East Java
T: 0341 561 911
Open daily from 4.30am-10pm
Price: Rp.20,000/US$1.50 per person