One downside to our rich culinary world in Jakarta is the disappearance of our local treats. Although some of you may have heard of Kerak Telor (spicy omelette from glutinous rice with fried shredded coconut), but not all have had a taste of it. Despite being one of the Betawi people’s traditional delicacies, it has become difficult to find.
Kerak Telor has been in existence since the days of the Dutch occupation. Usually served during lavish parties thrown by the colonial government or the most opulent of Betawi folks, it was because of the abundance in coconut production that the locals would use it as an ingredient for various dishes. No wonder then that the food in Jakarta tend to contain coconut milk or serundeng (fried shredded coconut).
It all began with an experiment. The people of Betawi Menteng during that time would mix different ingredients including glutinous rice, shredded coconut, spices, and egg. They then tested it out in their neighbourhood, and after gaining a positive response, the combination was then offered to the public in the 1970s in the area around Monas. It unexpectedly became a rousing success.
Each portion is made to order, and the only cooking appliances needed are a small wok and an anglo (traditional charcoal stove). The glutinous rice is first placed inside the wok and heated up on top of the charcoal. The seller would then add in a chicken or duck egg – they generally use duck egg for its more savoury taste – into the mix and throw in various seasonings before stirring them together. No oil is present during the process, ensuring that the omelette will stick to the wok at the end. When the Kerak Telor is half cooked, the wok is then turned upside down to cover the stove until its surface is ready. The Kerak Telor is then topped with serundeng, dried shrimp, and fried onion prior to serving.
These days, the Kemayoran area is the best bet for you to search out Kerak Telor. You’ll find Kerak Telor hawkers lining up by the side of the street here. For those who are after a rather heartier meal or looking to sample Betawi food whilst surrounded by historic buildings, then your destination of choice would be Kota Tua. Otherwise, you will definitely come across Kerak Telor at any local festivities such as Pekan Raya Jakarta or Festival Kuliner.