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Essentials at my Indonesian Table

Hello, Amanda here!

Since hobbies has been the theme for this month’s blog, allow me to share another one that I have been more busy with during this pandemic – Cooking! Well, I have not developed my recipe yet so I want to share my love for food! Food is always the main attraction of every celebration in Indonesia, whether it is a religious, cultural, or merely a family celebration. One example of a Javanese traditional communal feast is the Selamatan, a celebratory dinner. The rice served at this occasion is the nasi kuning and called nasi tumpeng (coned rice). The cone symbolizes the mountains and the yellow the gold that goes with prosperity. Our golden rice is prepared with coconut milk, turmeric and other spices. The dishes served along with the nasi tumpeng represent the bounty of the earth such as vegetables from the soil, fowl, and livestock. Nasi uduk, and lontong or ketupat are used for other special meals.
Nasi goreng is often used as a breakfast meal in which left-over meat dishes are mixed. Some of my favorite condiment is Sambal! My childhood snack obsession is a mixture of chilies, trasi (shrimp paste), and salt grounded into a paste and finished with a few squeezes of lime. Back home in Indonesia, we like to use kaffir lime. Sometimes people add tomato. Different regions create different flavors of sambal. My Sumatran brother in law who likes it really spicy, adds at least five additional chilies to the regular recipe. My Sundanese friend adds lime to make it sour. My Javanese family likes it mild and sweet and adds brown sugar and tomatoes to the sambal. The list goes on. Many of the regions also mix the sambal into a dish while cooking, so the taste will be absorbed into the dish. Lalapan (a mix of raw seasonal vegetables) is usually served with sambal. For my healthy snack, I mixed any fresh fruits with my favorite versatile sauce, Bumbu rujak. It is a sweet-sour sauce of chilli, palm sugar and tamarind that can be used as a sauce for many.

The story of the Indonesian table would not be complete without mentioning the wide variety of desserts. As in many other main dishes, coconut milk is a common ingredient of Indonesian desserts. One of the known desserts is es tjendol, a coconut milk drink with tapioca droplets and palm sugar syrup. The name tjendol refers to the green worm-like tapioca droplets and originates from the word jendol, which means bulge in the Javanese and Sundanese dialects. Es tjendol is my father’s favorite drink, but traditionally tjendol is a part of a traditional Javanese wedding ceremony. One day before the wedding, the family of the bride would sell es tjendol to the attending guests of the pre-nuptial celebration with the hope that the pending wedding would be attended by a lot of guests, "as many as the sold tjendol jellies." Anyone seated at a dinner table that serves the essentials of an Indonesian meal will be served a plate that is colorful as well as tasteful.

Thats it for me today! What food have you been craving or cook more during this pandemic?

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