Parkia speciosa ( bitter bean,stink bean) is a plant of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae. It bears long, flat edible beans with bright green seeds the size and shape of plump almonds which have a rather peculiar smell, characterised by some as being similar to natural gas.
I would say that appreciation of petai depends a lot on acquired taste. You smell it in your urine for a whole day. I suspect that these beans may benefit the urinary system, but there are more fantastic claims as you can see here. Suffice to say that I wouldn’t take it wholesale.
Anyway, here is how I cooked my petai. I had it at an Indonesian restaurant and this is my guess of how they did it. You won’t believe how simple it is.
First, fry your ikan bilis in some oil. Once the ikan bilis is fragrant, sprinkle two teaspoons of sugar and pour in the petai beans. Now for the seasoning. A bit of water mixed with tamarind paste and chilli paste. Pour that in and mix well.
I didn’t use too much chilli paste here, but if you don’t have children sharing this dish, do be generous with it. No salt required as the ikan bilis is already very flavourful. How was it? Well, it tasted almost as good as the one I had at the Indonesian restaurant. I’ll be able to do better next time.