There are so many local treats to be consumed while in Yogyakarta, from Angkringan Nasi Kucing (small portion of rice with toppings wrapped in banana leaf), Kopi Joss (charcoal coffee), and Bakpia (sweet rolls) to the obvious Gudeg (boiled unripe jackfruit with coconut milk and spices). The latter has become an iconic dish for the Yogyakarta, and interestingly, it is a delicacy that is also favoured by our friends in Singapore. However, Yogyakarta’s Gudeg features a dark brown colour, while the Gudeg that Singaporeans eat are white in colour – akin to Gudeg Solo.
The name “gudeg” itself is rumoured to have first been uttered by an Englishman who married a Javanese woman. He called his wife “dek” – a title commonly used by the people of Java – and one day, when her husband was away, she prepared for their lunch a dish that utilises a family recipe that had been handed down for generations. Using unripe jackfruit as its main ingredient, her husband complimented on her cooking when he ate it by saying, “It’s good, dek.” And from then on, the dish was christened Gudeg.
Tourists who visit Yogyakarta would almost always bring home some Gudeg, but what they purchase would usually be Gudeg Kering (dried Gudeg). It’s cooked in the same way as your normal Gudeg, but it requires a longer time – around six hours or more – for the soup to dry. Gudeg has been a staple food of the Javanese people for ages, especially during times of war as unripe jackfruit were easier to procure compared to other food ingredients. Gudeg Kering was only introduced in the 1950s to cater to visitors who come to Yogyakarta wanting to bring back a traditional treat to their hometown.
Where should you go to sample the best Gudeg in Yogyakarta?
Gudeg Yu Djum
Using a recipe that has been handed down through four generations, the Gudeg here can be ordered for takeaway using either a besek (a small box made from woven bamboo) or a kendil (small crock)
Gudeg Bu Tjitro
The Gudeg Kering here sports a clear broth and can lasts for 48 hours, while the ones packed in a tin can hold for a year before it expires.
This shop only opens for business at 10.30pm, thus making it a perfect destination for supper. What makes it even more unique is the fact that its dining area is inside its kitchen.
Having a go at a portion of Gudeg is a must for foodies who visit Yogyakarta. Who could resist a plate of steamed rice with sweet-savoury unripe jackfruit Gudeg, Telur Pindang (hard-boiled egg), Opor Ayam (chicken stew in coconut milk gravy), sambal, and a few prawn crackers at midnight?