Friday, September 4, 2009

India and Indonesia meet at Sangam House

Sangam House is a place where contemporary design and traditional artwork meet retreat-like calm, and where classic Indian dishes such as chicken tandoori hide the fact that you’re actually dining in Central Java.

Opened in April by Jean Pascal Elbaz and Restu Surbakti, Sangam House is situated in a quiet residential area off Jalan Kaliurang in northern Yogyakarta, close to Gadjah Mada University.

In addition to serving traditional Indian cuisine, Sangam House boasts a thoughtful boutique and meditative art space. Sangam House may be tucked away from view, but locals and visitors alike are finding their way through its door, which made a journey of its own from southern India.

Over their vegetarian entrée of palak paneer, a Canadian couple reminisced over their first visit to Sangam House. “We’ve been to over 80 countries and this is one of the most beautiful restaurants we’ve seen,” said Anil Rastogi.

But Sangam House is not just about aesthetics and dining. Look closely and you’ll see the décor tells a story. It’s a story of times when India’s reach into Indonesia was more apparent. Beyond the temples of Prambanan or Borobodur, which are obvious reminders of the ties linking the two countries, India and Indonesia share a history of trade relations, Hinduism and Sanskrit roots.

“The very concept of this restaurant is to try to revive link between India and Indonesia,” says Elbaz.

This connection between India and Indonesia captured Elbaz’s interested in 1989 when he decided to make his first trip to Indonesia. Later, when he was director of the French Cultural Center in Yogyakarta between 1997 and 2002, he spent his weekends visiting the lesser-known Hindu temples in the area. One day he met an archaeologist to whom he pitched his idea for a guidebook on these treasures. They later published Sites out of Sight (by Rizky Sasono, Jean Pascal Elbaz and Agung Kurniawan; text in French, Indonesian and English).

See full story from the original source:
The Jakarta Post