The culinary world of Indonesia is one that is rich with various delicacies, ranging from hearty meals to roadside snacks. The latter in itself comprises a diverse assortment of flavours – be it sweet or savoury. Some can be found easily, while others may require a visit to a traditional market. Rather than just a light bite for the afternoon, they can also be eaten as breakfast in the morning.
Made from glutinous rice flour and filled with liquid brown sugar, the exterior of a Klepon is topped with grated coconut to present a savoury and sweet finish. Not only popular in Indonesia, this round-shaped treat is also all the rage in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Singapore. Be careful when you want to eat a recently baked Klepon as its liquid brown sugar may spill all over your clothes.
Its small pipe-like shape the result of it being steamed inside a bamboo tube, you’ll know when a Putu (green rice flour cake filled with palm sugar) seller is nearby as the apparatus used to steam it emits a high-pitched sound. Despite their obvious dissimilarity in terms of appearance, the ingredients to make Putu are almost identical to the Klepon. The only differentiating factor is the use of less sticky glutinous rice flour in order to produce Putu. This means that the dough can easily fall apart if it is not steamed until it is truly ready.
The snack with the least effort needed to find, Onde-Onde (glutinous rice flour pastry covered in sesame seeds) is sold everywhere – from markets to roadside sellers. Round in shape, its exterior is decorated with sesame seeds and it is commonly filled with mung bean.
Originating from Central Java, Cenil is made from the polymer glucose of cassava and is available in different shapes, including rounded and cubed. Its chewy texture and sweet flavour makes it a favourite not only of adults but also children as well. It is usually topped with grated coconut and sugar prior to serving.
Children love Kue Lapis due to its striking appearance. Commonly consisting of two to three different colours, it is made from rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, salt and artificial colouring. It has a chewy texture and is sweet in flavour. Those who love Kue Lapis would usually eat it in either of the following ways: bite it straight off or peel off the layers. Like the Klepon, Kue Lapis can also be found in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Singapore, and is known as Kuih Lapis in these neighbouring countries.
Gethuk is a cassava-based snack that is made by steaming, peeling and grinding the cassava, and then mixing it with grated coconut, sugar, and a little bit of salt. To lend it a slightly brownish colour and savoury flavour, the sugar can be substituted with brown sugar. It also tends to be made using a meat grinder, which is then cut into cubes and sprinkled with grated coconut. Known as Gethuk Lindri by most people, sellers of this sweet delicacy would usually be recognisable for the incessant blaring of dangdut music from their pushcart.
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Made from sago flour with dry palm sugar, water, palm sugar, pandanus leaves, coconut, and salt, this sweet treat comes from West Java and is categorised as Kue Basah (wet cake) due its soft and chewy texture. Sweet with a hint of savouriness, it’s a shame that it is now difficult to find Ongol-Ongol due to the decreasing number of demands for it.
Made from glutinous rice that is topped with grated coconut and liquid brown sugar, Kue Lupis is wrapped in a banana leaf and tastes sweet and savoury. Despite being known primarily as a light bite, Lupis is considered a breakfast item in a few parts of the country.
Sold in markets or by the roadside, Kue Pancong is made from rice flour mixed with coconut milk and grated coconut to produce a crusty texture when eaten. Nowadays, modern flavour variants of Kue Pancong have surfaced, such as chocolate and cheese.
It may not be much of a looker – it is basically white dough wrapped in banana leaf – but a single bite of Nagasari will reveal a sliced banana inside and present to you a sweet and savoury flavour to your palate. Made from rice flour, sago flour, coconut milk and sugar, it is then filled with a cut of banana. The Bugis people call this delicacy Bandang-Bandang, while some are known to have named it Kue Pisang.