East meets West

Before we proceed, let’s brush up on our history a wee bit. Back in 1602, the Dutch East India Company, or VOC, was established in Indonesia with the aim of monopolising our endless supply of spices. They made our shores their home for almost 200 years until they went bust in 1800, which led to the Dutch taking us on by force as one of their colonies right up until the early 20th century. It was a horrendous period of time for the country, yet as the quick-thinking people that we are, we also learned a thing or two from them. This is evident in our culinary world, as the following dishes take influence from the cuisine of our then-conquerors.


If happen to be a fan of bitterballen (deep-fried Dutch meatballs), you would probably like kroket (beef croquette). The Dutch didn’t exactly create the kroket though; that honour goes to the French, as it was concocted in the kitchen that served for Louis XIV in 1691. Its popularity spread like wildfire in the Netherlands, and it was then brought over to our country.


Perkedel (Indonesian fried patties) is very much a staple in Indonesian households. In the Netherlands, it is known as frikadeller, yet a few striking differences despite the similarities in their exteriors. While perkedel commonly uses potatoes as its main ingredient and inclusion of minced beef is optional, frikadeller is made entirely from mince beef.


Although general knowledge may show that the semur (meat stew) was first made in a Javanese kitchen – especially with its sweet taste – Indonesian historian JJ Rizal discovered that its name was actually derived from the Dutch word stomerijj, which means “steamer” in the English language. Back then, Indonesian workers would yell out to their Dutch employees to indicate that they were cooking with a stomerijj. The word changed during the course of time due to its resemblance in sound to smoor, which then became semur. The sweet soya sauce that serves as its main ingredient takes its roots in China.

Selat Solo

The Javanese interpretation of a beefsteak, Selat Solo is braised tenderloin beef splashed with a thin sweet-and-sour sauce made from vinegar, sweet soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Commonly served with French fries and steamed vegetables, Selat Solo features a sweet tang that is commonly associated with a Javanese dish, further exemplifying it as an East-meets-West dish.

Started her career as a food writer in 2012, Jessicha Valentina is the online editor of Good Indonesian Food. Jessicha has loved Sayur Asem since she was a wee kid and spends her free time trying to cook it.

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