Wikipedia mentioned that Indonesia by today possesses 5,350 traditional heritage recipes. However, the number was denied by some respected culinary researchers as they believe that number is higher than mentioned on the site. With an abundance of Indonesian heritage recipes, it is rather difficult to label one particular dish that could represent the wholeness of Indonesia culinary repertoire. Rendang, which once claimed by CNN in 2012 as the most delicious food in the universe still unable to set itself as an ambassador of Indonesia’s iconic cuisine.
What is more interesting about Indonesian cuisine is that the more you explore different region in the country , the more you discover how some of our dishes are influenced more or less by foreign cuisine in such diversity and uniqueness. There is more than just delightful art of cookery on a plate of regional Indonesian dishes where culture and history lie, which will make your visit to Indonesia undoubtedly captivating.
Spicy, The Unifying Tool for Batak Tribe
It is clearly uncommon when tribe unification is influenced by cooking ingredient. Although Bataknese cooking has variety of types and can be consider as vast, it is impossible to set aside andaliman pepper from each dish. From arsik ikan mas, ayam natinombur, ikan naniura, ikan napinandar, and sambal tuktuk, all of them rely their deliciousness on andaliman pepper. Batak dishes are known to be spicy, but the spiciness does not come from chili or any related condiment, but appears to be originated from andaliman or populary pointed as Batak pepper.
Speaking of its distinctive “spiciness”, andaliman will remind food enthusiasts of the character of Sichuan cooking. Culinary culture of Sichuan people is also familiar familiar with andaliman’s distinctive spiciness. An Indonesian culinary expert William Wongso explains that Sichuan cooking is enriched by five major tastes; sour, sweet, spicy, and ma la where ini English literacy suggests as “numb hot”. To make appear the taste of ma la, andaliman or Sichuan pepper completely comes into duty.
The Presence of India
Tome Pires, a Portuguese explorer recorded on his journal that mercantile from Gujarat had already visited shores of West Sumatra in the 16th century. When those traders arrived in the land of Minang, they brought with them knowledge of cookery from their homeland and introduced the art to local citizens. As time goes by, culinary acculturation took place and led to strong influence of Indian cooking with Minang cuisine.
One of the signature elements on Minang cuisine that is believed to be influenced by Indian touch is the use of coconut milk is a staple ingredient used by people from Southern India, while those from Northern India prefer yogurt and grain varieties.
Dutch Trail in Javanese Palate
The arrival of European in Java without many of us notice was once a very important moment of introduction of European cooking, especially Dutch, to Indonesia. Solo, a city in Central Java is strong in adptation of Dutch cookery that is clearly visible in their local dishes. From sosis Jawa (Javanese sausage), selat Solo (delivered from ‘salad’) and bistik (inspired from beef steak) – all are European-inspired.
The birth of those particular dishes is originated from the fact that sultanate of Surakarta once the one who often done royal banquet to hosted Dutch high-end and royal guests. Before it was introduced to general society, Dutch-inspired dishes only played their role inside Royal Palace.
Pura Mangkunegaran in Solo stands as the evidence of prosperity achieved from close cooperation with the Dutch government in the old days. Grand palatial architecture is influenced mainly by European design; marmoreal floor from Italy, grand chandelier from Netherlands, massive pillars from France, and some ancient Greek God statue. This includes special building designated as central kitchen to cook Dutch cuisine called keuken (kitchen in English).