Cuisine of Indonesia

Cuisine of Indonesia

Indonesian cuisine reflects the vast variety of people that live on the 6,000 populated islands that make up Indonesia. There is probably not a single "Indonesian" cuisine, but rather, a diversity of regional cuisines influenced by local Indonesian culture and foreign influences.

Throughout its history, Indonesia has been involved in trade due to its location and natural resources. Indonesia’s indigenous techniques and ingredients, at least in the Malay World parts, are influenced by India, the Middle East, China and finally Europe. Spanish and Portuguese traders brought New World produce even before the Dutch came to colonize most of Indonesia. Indonesian island of Maluku is famed as "the Spice Island" also gave contribution on the introduction of native spices to Indonesian and global cuisine. The cuisine of Eastern Indonesia is similar to Polynesian and Melanesian cuisine.

Sumatran cuisine, for example, often show their Middle Eastern and Indian influence, having curried meat and vegetables, while Javanese cuisine is rather more indigenously developed. Elements of Indonesian Chinese cuisine are seen in Indonesian cuisine: as "bakmi" (noodles) and "bakso" (meat balls) are completely assimilated.

The most popular dishes that originated in Indonesia are common across most of Asia. Popular Indonesian dishes such as satay, beef rendang, and sambals also favored in Malaysia and Singapore. Soy-based dishes, such as variations of tofu ("tahu") and tempe, are also very popular. Tempe is regarded as a Javanese invention, an adaptation to the loss of forests precluding hunting as a source of protein food. Indonesian meals are commonly eaten with the combination of spoon in the right hand and fork in the left hand, although in many parts of the country (such as West Java) it is also common to eat with one's hands.


Rice is a staple for all classes in contemporary Indonesia,cite book |last=Taylor|first=Jean Gelman|title=Indonesia: Peoples and Histories|publisher=Yale University Press|date=2003 |location= New Haven and London|url= |doi= |pages=pages 8-9|id= ISBN 0-300-10518-5] and it holds a central part in Indonesian culture: it shapes the landscape; is sold at markets; and is served in most meals as a savoury and sweet food. Rice is most often eaten as plain rice ("nasi putih") with just a few protein and vegetable dishes as side dishes. It is also served, however, as "ketupat" (rice steamed in woven packets of coconut fronds), "lontong" (rice steamed in banana leaves), "intip" (rice crackers), desserts, noodles, "brem" (rice wine), and "nasi goreng" (fried rice). [cite book |last=Witton|first=Patrick|title=World Food: Indonesia|publisher=Lonely Planet|date=2002 |location= Melbourne|url= |doi= |pages=page 29|id= ISBN 1-74059-009-0]

It was only incorporated, however, into diets as either the technology to grow it or the ability to buy it from elsewhere was gained. Evidence of wild rice on the island of Sulawesi dates from 3000 BCE. Evidence for the earliest cultivation, however, comes from eighth century stone inscriptions from the central island of Java, which show kings levied taxes in rice. Divisions of labour between men, women, and animals that are still in place in Indonesian rice cultivation, can be seen carved into the ninth-century Prambanan temples in Central Java: a Water buffalo attached to a plough; women planting seedlings and pounding grain; and a man carries sheaves of rice on each end of a pole across his shoulders. In the sixteenth century, Europeans visiting the Indonesian islands saw rice as a new prestige food served to the aristocracy during ceremonies and feasts.

Rice production requires exposure to the sun. Rice production in Indonesian history is linked to the development of iron tools and the domestication of Wild Asian Water Buffalo as water buffalo for cultivation of fields and manure for fertilizer. Once covered in dense forest, much of the Indonesian landscape has been gradually cleared for permanent fields and settlements as rice cultivation developed over the last fifteen hundred years.

Other staple foods in Indonesia include maize (in drier regions such as Madura and the Lesser Sunda Islands), sago (in Eastern Indonesia) and root tubers (especially in hard times).

Meal Times

In western and central Indonesia, the main meal is usually cooked in the late morning, and consumed around midday. In many families there is no set meal time where all members are expected to attend. For this reason, most of the dishes are made such that they can last and remain edible even if left on the table at room temperature for many hours. The same dishes are then re-heated for the final meal in the evening. Most meals are built around a cone-shaped pile of long-grain, highly polished rice. A meal may include a soup, salad (or more commonly sauteed vegetables with garlic), and another main dish. Whatever the meal, it is accompanied by at least one, and often several relishes that are called sambals.

In eastern Indonesia, where the natives are more influenced by Pacific islander cultures such as on the island of Papua and Timor, the meals can be centered around other sources of carbohydrates such as sago and/or grain.

nacks and street food

In most cities it is common to see Chinese dishes such as buns and noodles sold by street vendors and restaurants alike, often adapted to become Indonesian Chinese cuisine. One common adaptation is that pork is no longer used since the majority of Indonesians are Muslims. Street and street-side vendors are common, in addition to hawkers peddling their goods on bicycles or carts. These carts are known as "pedagang kaki lima" - (named after the convert|5|ft|m|sing=on wide footpaths in Indonesia, however some people say they are named 'five feet' after the three feet of the cart and two feet of the vendor!), and many of these have their own distinctive call or songs to announce their wares. For example, the "bakso" seller will hit the side of a soup bowl, where as "mie ayam" is announced by hitting a wood block.

Fruit in Indonesia

Indonesian markets abound with many types of tropical fruit. These are an important part of the Indonesian diet, either eaten on their own, made into desserts, or even savoury dishes (ie, rujak).

Many of these fruits are indigenous to Indonesia (Mangosteen) or the Indonesian archipelago in general (Rambutan), others have been importedfrom other tropical countries, although the origin of many of these fruits is disputed.

Banana and Coconut are particularly important, not only to Indonesian cuisine, but also in other uses, such as timber, bedding, roofing, oil, plates and packaging , etc.


= See also =
* List of Indonesian cuisine
* Indonesian rice table
* Indonesian Chinese cuisine
* Javanese cuisine
* Minangkabau cuisine

External links

* [ Culinary Reconnaissance: Indonesia]
* [ Eating the Indonesian way]
* [ Indonesian Recipes]
* [ Information on Indonesian Food, Eating Habits, Cooking Methods, Ingredients and more]

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