Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Balinese Preserves

Last week I met with Heather from Awani, a hand made preserve producer based in Indonesia. We've been selling Awani's delicious products for a while, but Heather had some new lines for me to try, and some cute freebies for me to give away.

Since 2007 Awani have been creating delicious, artisan jams and marmalade from tropical fruit on the island of Bali. Their preserves showcase the abundance and lushness of the tropical climate: fresh mangoes, pineapples, passion fruit, white and pink guavas, tamarillos, tangerines, limes and many others, sourced from Bali, and other islands on the Indonesian archipelago. In the heart of the tropics the delicious tropical fruit grows profusely, encouraged by the nourishment of volcanic soil and the wonderful warmth of the environment.

Awani bottle the warm lushness of the tropics with delicate, intoxicating, highly fragrant jams and marmalade which are enjoyed at top hotels in Bali and Jakarta. Last year they began to sell retail jars of exotic delights. This is where we came in: selling the fantastic tropical flavours to our customers in Eton (and of course throughout the UK on our web shop).

On her visit last week, Heather brought her photograph album with her, to show me photos of the people who make the preserves. There are 12 full-time staff from the local village in the kitchen, selecting the best, ripest fruits, preparing them entirely by hand to maintain quality and turning them into jam following Yip Lee's very precise, heavily researched, recipes.

Yip is from Malaysia and grew up with fragrant, exotic fruit in his garden. He has a BA in Engineering from Cambridge University and worked in large corporations before deciding to set up Awani in 2008. He pays a lot of attention to detail and his recipes have been finely tuned to perfect the balance of sweetness, acidity and even the texture of the fruit.

I thought, like me, you might want to see some of the photos! The faces behind the jams. First, the whole team, including the kitchen and sales staff at the Awani kitchen in Tabanan, in middle of Bali a few weeks ago.

The kitchen is a traditional, 8 pillared wood/red brick structure, converted to house a spacious, modern, clean, kitchen complying with international standards of food hygiene.

It is situated on a self-sustaining mixed farm with many different types of fruit trees as well as cacao trees and coffee bushes. The view from the window is of lush papaya plants. A slightly different view to that from a British kitchen window!

Every single jar of Awani jam is handmade, from the preparation of the fruit, to cooking, to bottling and labelling. Being so close to the tropical fruit farms means fruit can be left to ripen on the trees, picked late and quickly transported to maintain its flavour and freshness.

When you open a jar, be sure to inhale the aroma first. It really is enticing! So much so, that since meeting with Heather, I've added some more flavours to our range. Pink guava which I overlooked the first time around, thinking it would be insipid, is in fact, far from it. The aroma and taste is intense. Unique. And the pieces of fruit give a delicious texture. In fact, the four groups of people I let try my sample jar, all bought a jar of their own to take home.  I've also added Lime & Ginger, which is a fabulous blend of bittersweet lime with the heat, fragrance and spice of the fresh young ginger. Aside from being used as a preserve (great on some crunchy wholemeal toast, I can assure you), it can also be served with goat's cheese, or used to marinade meat! This recipe from James Sellick, a British Bali-based food designer who is fascinated by flavour sounds like one I need to try soon...

Baked Apple with Raisins and Awani Lime Marmalade with Ginger
Cooking apples, raisins, unsalted butter, Awani Lime Marmalade with Ginger.
Core apples and arrange in a baking dish.
Fill the bottom half of the hollow of each apple with raisins, followed by a lump of butter to fill the hollowed core.
Bake at 180-200ÂșC for 10 minutes. The butter will have melted.
Refill the hollow with Awani Lime Marmalade with Ginger.
Continue baking until apples are brown.

As does another of James': Pan Fried Pork Loin with Awani Tamarillo Jam and Herb Stuffing
800g pork loin, ½ jar Awani Tamarillo Jam, 100g breadcrumbs, 100g shallots, ¼ handful thyme, ½ handful sage, ¼ handful rosemary, 1 tablespoon butter, salt and pepper.

Fry shallots in butter until golden and soft, mix in other stuffing ingredients and roll into pork loin.
Pan-fry until meat is brown and just cooked.
Leave meat to sit for 5 to 10 minutes in a covered frying pan.
Deglaze the frying pan with 2 more tablespoons of tamarillo jam and serve with meat.

The Tamarillo Jam is also great with Stilton and an interesting alternative to cranberry sauce with turkey.