I apologize for the delay in posting; I’ve been quite busy lately and am disappointed for not keeping everyone apprised. Also, I’ve been looking at digital cameras so that you don’t have to stare at digital noise while scoping out the best of Bangkok’s most unusual buildings or probably illegally-taken photos in the Korea that borders China. Sony has repeatedly let me down, I mean c’mon, you’d expect it to keep working after dropping it once a week AND wading through floods, right?…
Jakarta is one of my favorite cities, whether in Java or die Welt. It doesn’t have the BTS Skytrain/metro system of Bangkok, the hygienic façade of Singapore or the usual “look” of Chinatown as in those in KL or the previous two cities, but hey, there’s always, never. It does have a small Dutch colonial section (after all, Jakarta, or Batavia was vital to the success of the Dutch East India Company), a smattering of outlandish statues and monuments, museums, and most mportantly for me at least, an excellent introduction to the depths of makanan Indonesia (Indonesian cuisine). You can bet there’s quite a difference in what’s for makan malam (dinner, or literally, night eat) in Banda Aceh and Papua Barat (a distance of nearly 3165 miles, or 5094 kilometres, also equivalent to flying from London, England to Accra, Ghana. Let’s check out a few meals, hey?
Makanan Manado is the cuisine I think about the most, not least because it seems I can only find it in Indonesia. Although the city of Manado is known for non-halal dishes due to its significant Christian population, with much of the cuisine also involving seafood, vegetables and the sambal called dabu-dabu/colo-colo (the “c” in Indonesian is pronounced “ch”). Blurrily starting clockwise, cakalang pampis, or skipjack tuna(if you can read Indonesian or are capable of navigating an online translator, cuek has a recipe here), colo-colo (tomatoes, onions, chilies, lime juice-refreshingly spicy), cakalang rica-rica (skipjack tuna which is more mashed/minced than pamis, which has bigger pieces), kue lapis (a cake made of rice flour, with added chocolate; a bit of a gelatin-consistency), steamed rice (nasi), and a melange of potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables with noodles. Food from Manado, a city in the north of Sulawesi, is known as some of the spiciest in the country.
Quite juicy and not incredibly sweet, these became one of my staple foods while in SE Asia.
Kaki Lima, or cart peddlers (kaki=leg and lima=five; three for the cart and two for the person) are all over the place in Jakarta, offering a huge mix of food and other items . Nasi Padang, named after a city in West Sumatra, always has the available food on display to tempt passers-by. Halal indeed, as well as spicy, with a nice campur (mix) of vegetables, meat and seafood. If you come across makanan Padang and see what looks like stale meat, it’s called dendeng, just a lil’ bit akin to jerky (or if you’re in South Africa, biltong).
Palembang is the capital of the province of South Sumatra, and when I asked orang Palembang (people from there) what the one representative food of the city is, they all said, in unison (yea, right) pempek. And upon looking up what they are, became surprised that they are series of snacks that blend dough and pulverized fish, among other ingredients. Pempek Timoti is where I first tried them, located in Mangga Dua Square, one of the umpteen shopping centers housing Indonesian food floors, in Jakarta.
This particularly amalgam of snacks was found along the road by Taman Mini, a theme park celebrating the architecture of Indonesia’s provinces, (further details provided by madeinindonesiapedia at their site) in South Jakarta. Nangka is bahasa Indonesia for jackfruit, another fruit popular in Southeast Asia that also bears a strong scent (it’s no durian though, folks). Tutut was a plastic bag of snails in a savory stock, but I can’t say I’d like to try THAT particular bag again. Onde-onde (麻团 matuan/煎堆 jiandui) made up for the palindrome for being a fried, sesame seed-coated ball of green/mung bean paste, possibly my most enjoyed of the bean pastes. They remind me of something commonly found in Chinatowns, but as I said before, whereas other countries have one version of a Chinatown, Jakarta’s is purely rubbish, shady nightclubs (that makes sense at least; one of them is called Illigals) and third-party electronics.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this small sampling of Indonesian food, as I intend to tantalize you with many more Indonesian edibles in the future.