Polish cuisine at its best in Starhill Gallery’s Shook!
Poland is a true ethnic mosaic of Poles, Germans, Lithuanians, Jews, Turks and Tartars – and it’s the latter’s cuisine that was highlighted at the Polish Tatar Food Festival 2018. Held at Shook! in Starhill Gallery’s Feast Village from 12-14 November, the three-day festival showcased the best of traditional Tatar food, which are Central Asian dishes with Eastern European influences.
Organised in partnership with The Embassy of the Republic of Poland, a delicious array of dishes were prepared by Guest Chef Marcin Budynek, who not only has his own cooking shows but owns a culinary academy and runs his own riverside restaurant in Poland – the famed Tawerna Fisza.
Without a doubt, typical Tatar dishes like the baba ziemniaczana (potato cakes) and dumplings known as czebureki and manty were served. The flavourful czebureki was stuffed with minced beef marinated in cumin and cinnamon, while the potato cakes accompanied a scrumptious duck baked in garlic and rosemary. A cuisine dominated by grain, wild game and freshwater fish, other mains included a slow-roasted lamb shoulder and buttered salmon with a casserole of haricot beans, warm grapes and pickled vegetables.
“The Tatar kitchen is Oriental because it’s located at the crossroads between East and West with influences from Mongolia," explains Chef Budynek, who hails from Augustów in north-east Poland, the traditional home of the Polish Tatar minority group. His favourite dish, he quips, is the cold beetroot soup, which is a cooling summer dish made from fresh yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, Dijon mustard and roasted beetroot juice.
Accompanying the hearty dinner was a performance of Tatar music and Mongolian Tuvan throat singing by Marcin Ruminski and his wife Maria. The duo are part of the folk-Celtic band Shannon who performed at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching in 2007. With an estimated 200 Poles living in Malaysia according to the Embassy’s spokesperson, the festival was all the more special as it marked the 100th year of Poland’s Independence Day on 11 November 1918.