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Indonesian food as an attraction
Published on: Sunday, March 31, 2024
By: Lorena Binisol
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Cireng: Fried flour to be eaten with special sauce.
INDONESIAN cuisines remain the integral part of the country’s attractions and they believe food has direct connection to their cultural heritage and origin.

Each ethnic group such as the Bugis, Dayak, Balinese and Javanese, to name a few, are proud of their traditional food.

A recent visit of media personnel from Malaysia to Jakarta exposed them to arrays of delicacies coming from different regions of Indonesia.

They were informed that food and dishes play crucial part in their culture as they are the linchpins of their country and each dish has unique story to tell.

What makes each dish compelling is that it continues to be given a “refresher” look and refine it to suit the modern environment and, most of all, able to entice the customers without losing its original taste, said tour guide Risa Nainggolan.



Media personnel from Malaysia had hands-on cooking lesson on Indo cuisine.

She said the important component of any dish is the usage of native herbs, spices and ingredients.

“Food is not just food, they are our pride, they represent our culture. Each has a unique history of its own,” said Risa.

Soto (broth of different type of meats) is a national dish that the citizens could never go without.



Soto Betawi

Spices being the natural resources of Indonesia, it is no wonder that their dishes are rich and tasteful.

As for Soto, the must-have ingredients are galangal, ginger, onions, turmeric, star anise, cinnamon stick to name a few.

The media group had the opportunity to learn the preparation of Soto Betawi in one of their programmes.

Ramurasa Cooking Studio & Coffee, Kemang Road, located at the southern part of Jakarta was where they had their cooking lesson with one of the national chef Shanti Serad.

Soto Betawi and Beer Pletok were two items they learned from her.

Shanti said Soto Betawi has its history where in the early days where the Betawi ethnicity created the tasty dish with ample of native herbs being used to increase the aroma, while Beer Pletok, a drink derived during the occupation of Dutch colonialism.

Risa said the Betawi community realised the actual beer contained alcohol, therefore, they created their own version of “beer” by using certain ingredients and spices for the drinks and is alcohol-free.

“Since then, Beer Pletok had been our ‘fancy’ beverage and whenever any Dutch tourists come to our country, they would look for Beer Pletok. I supposed they know and understand the history of Indonesia and Netherlands,” she said. 

She said Betawi does not belong to one race but multi-ethnicity, due to being populated by people of various races in the early era.

Cireng, a comfort food created by the Javanese from the Sunda region, is well liked by its citizens. It is made of tapioca flour with onions, garlic and spring onions cut finely and mixed altogether, add seasoning before frying it on hot oil.  It is eaten with spicy Sambal.

Risa said each region creates its own comfort food, although they look similar the usage of certain herbs and ingredients vary.

The creativity in turning their staple food into colourful rice became conspicuous during the food presentation and had definitely caught everyone’s attention.



Fried Singkong (tapioca) is a popular savoury dish eaten with Sambal.



The four different-coloured rice using natural ingredients. 

Pak Sakur, one of the accompanying members from Jakarta Tourism office, said the colours came from natural ingredients and safe to consume.

“Green rice is made from Pandan juice, yellow rice is from turmeric and purple rice is original colour of hill padi rice,” he said. 

It left everyone in awe of the presentation. Simple yet with elegant, said Hamzah one of the participants.

Tapioca, or popularly known as Singkong by the Indonesians, was treated more as savoury (instead of dessert) most of the time, and commonly served in their everyday meal.

“Singkong is grown in abundance here, therefore it can be made into many kinds of savoury dishes and of course desserts too.

“We usually boil it, mash it roughly and fry it to get that crunchy texture while soft on the inside. Of course, the ingredients and seasoning must be added to get the best taste and aromatic.

“It goes really well with our Sambal,” said Risa.

Sambal or condiments is a compulsory item on the dining table, be it on breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between meals of the day.

“There are thousand types of Sambal to choose from as we are known for our herbs, spices and ingredients. This is one appetiser we cannot go without,” she said.

Pak Widodo the accompanying officer from Indonesia Consulate office in Kota Kinabalu said Indonesia is long known for its spices and condiments (Sambal).

“The creativity of the people is seen through their dishes.  They are proud of their food and could boast about it. 

“Even the smallest island in this country could present their own unique food.

“We believe food brings people together while embracing their culture freely,” he said.

Hari Wibowo, Marketing Director of Jakarta Tourism Office, confided that Indonesia has plenty to offer in terms of tourism. Apart from its colourful history, cuisine from each region play important role in retaining its respective culture and sharing its uniqueness, he said.

 



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