MINANGKABAU folk migrated to Malaysia from Indonesia in the 15th century bringing along their food which caught on quickly.
Their fare is known for utilising every single part of the buffalo for cooking.
Skin, tendon, stomach, lung and liver are not discarded but are made into curry, rendang and satay.
A sampling of such exotic fare can be found at the Sri Kumbang Jati stall run by Titi Sumarni Zainul Abidin and her family.
They open as early as 6.30am with a breakfast menu of green pea porridge, lontong (rice cakes in a curry sauce of jackfruit, ferns and green beans), deep fried bananas with glutinous rice and gado gado (steamed vegetables with a peanut sauce).
The action starts from 9am, when they bring out a variety of dishes.
The most popular draw is the rendang, thick with coconut milk and infused with the heady aroma of galangal, shallots, ginger and lots of chillies.
Buffalo meat rendang is a usual option but they offer spleen and liver rendang, too.
This writer finds the spleen rendang especially appealing for its soft, spongy texture, as it is a nice change from the sinewy nature of meat in rendang due to the long cooking process.
Those with a taste for adventure may give the skin, stomach and tendon curries a try.
But if you are wearing dentures, give the tendons a miss. They are really tough.
Those who prefer to have an easier time can opt for the soft, squishy, skin in a turmeric curry sauce.
Smoked fish and anchovy fritters are some of the traditional Indonesian accompaniments to be found here.
Rice is served on a banana leaf, even for takeaway.
The satay stall opens at 4.30pm. Turmeric, bird’s eye chilli, lime leaves and lemongrass goes into marinating pieces of topside buffalo meat, lung, tongue and stomach skewered onto wooden sticks and grilled over a red hot charcoal fire.
Chicken meat is also used, plus intestines, skin and gizzard. Ayam kampung (free range chicken) indigenous to Malaysian and Indonesian villages is the preferred chicken meat.
Titi Sumarni said she loves chicken gizzards satay because of its chewiness.
The difference between Malaysian and Indonesian satay lies in the dipping sauce.
While Malaysians like their satay sauce chunky and sweet, the Indonesians like it smooth and spicy.
“The ingredients are all the same except that we grind our peanuts,” she said.
One drink diners must try here is the avocado juice.
Served in a tall glass, it starts with a dollop of sweetened creamer for the bottom layer and features whipped avocado flesh rippled with chocolate sauce made with a mix of cocoa powder, sugar and water.
The Indonesian variety of the avocado has a smooth outer skin compared to the Australian variety with its wart-like covering.
To clear the air, ‘Kumbang’ denotes her family’s tribal origin from the Minangkabau Highlands in West Sumatra, Indonesia.
Titi Sumarni said it was her parents who started the business in 1984 when the family lived in Kajang.
The first stall, Minang Jaya at 14th mile Jalan Cheras is still in operation today. It is run by her sister.
The Jalan Gombak branch was started in 1993 when her parents moved to Taman Greenwood.
Both the eateries are family run.
Titi Sumarni’s mother, Sariman Tokong, now in her 60s, is at the Jalan Gombak branch for the morning shift.
Her children have barred her from cooking which starts as early as 4am but the lady is adamant about conducting taste tests to maintain the quality.
Asked how they have managed to run the stall for 19 hours a day without days off for the past 23 years, Titi Sumarni has this to say:
“We are a hardworking and persevering lot. When my parents started the business, they faced their challenges head on. The rest, they left to God.
“That explains why we have been able to continue with the business this long.”
Sri Kumbang Jati is located at Jalan Gombak, 6 ¾ Mile, Batu Caves, Selangor.
It is open from 6.30am to 1.30am.
For details, call 03-6718 0415.