If you have Indonesian friends that live abroad, and you travel to Indonesia with them – awesome! It means that you will face a gigantic feast full of delicious food.
My hometown is Surabaya – perhaps most of you are not familiar with it (most people only recognize Bali when it comes to Indonesia 😞). When I went home for the first time in years, my sister and parents prepared two tables full of food, mostly food that I missed. Even though there were 7 of us, it was still tough to finish the food (don’t worry, we ate it the next day too).
Ok, I will try to explain the food one by one. Bear with me, and get ready to drool 🤤
On the top row, starting from the left:
- Tahu tek (tofu, lontong (rice cake), and vegetables with peanut sauce), pictured there with a bag of krupuk (crackers) on the left. This is one of Surabaya’s specialties. The name “tek tek” is from the sound when the cook cuts the ingredients with a pair of scissor. Tek…tek…✂️
- Martabak kare (spicy pancake with beef, served with red curry). This dish hails from Padang. The small bowl on the left is the curry.
Bottom row, starting from the left:
- Chinese mixed grilled meats. This contains siobak (grilled pork), siokee (grilled chicken), titee (pork knuckle), and pig’s ears. The three plates above are the sauces and condiments (saus tauco (fermented beans sauce), chili sauce, and cucumber pickle).
- Rendang (Slow cooked beef). This Sumatran dish was voted as the best food in the world according to CNNGo.
- Gulai daun singkong (cassava leaves curry) & tewel (young jackfruit)
On top of the rendang is sambal lado mudo (green chili sambal), while on top of the gulai daun singkong is kikil (cow’s cartilage), cooked in super spicy sauce.
On the top row, starting from the left:
- Baikut (pork ribs soup)
- Ayam Kalasan (Kalasan style roasted chicken) in the box. As guessed by the name, this is from Kalasan, Central Java. The chicken is roasted with coconut milk, palm sugar, garlic, and other spices, making the taste very sweet and sticky. Yum!
Ok, now is the “satay section”. My sister & mom put the satay sauces & condiments vertically according to the correct satay. On the bottom row, starting from the left:
- Sate babi (pork satay), with lontong (rice cake) on the top.
- Sate kelapa (coconut beef satay), with sauce, shallots, and chilies on the top
- Sate Blora. This one is chicken satay from Blora, Central Java. On the top are the sauces – red and kind of spicy, and gravy made from chicken broth and spices.
- Sate Madura. This is the most popular (and generic) version of Indonesian satay in the world. Little do people know that it’s from a tiny island nearby Java called Madura.
Pictured above is the “snack section” of the table. On the left, from the top to the bottom:
- Chasieuw (bbq pork) & chicken buns
- Pastel mandarin (pastry filled with shiitake mushroom and chicken),
- Lapis legit (called spekkoek in Dutch). It’s a layered cake with spices such as cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, and clove. This is a cake with a deep history. It was first created during the colonialism era when Indonesia was still Dutch East Indies (Nederlands-Indië). “Spekkoek” literally means pork belly cake in Dutch. The name derived from the multiple layers it has, just like a pork belly cut.
On the right, from the top to the bottom:
- Pisang kipas (banana fritters). “Kipas” means fan, as you can see from the appearance.
- Kompyang (that’s the round bun with sesame seeds). It’s chicken and seaweed filled bun. I really loved it when I was a kid. Actually, this bread is originated in Hokkien province. So, normally it’s made by the Chinese Indonesian (Peranakan) people.
- Dodol durian (durian paste), which was brought by my twin sister’s boyfriend, from Borneo. He is half Chinese Bornean.
- Bakcang (triangular rice cake). The ones we had there were filled with pork & salted egg yolk and chicken. The pork & salted egg yolk is my all-time favorite!
Finally, we got to the ice cream part – my absolute favorite part. Pictured above is es puter (traditional Indonesian ice cream). “Puter” means to turn in Indonesian, which comes from the making process. A tube-like traditional ice cream machine is placed on a big bucket filled with sea salt and ice blocks. The sea salt keeps the ice temperature low during the making. Unlike western ice cream, this one does not contain any cream or milk. Instead, it is based on coconut milk, which makes it tastes richer. This brought me back to my childhood. Behind my old high school there was an old man selling es puter for only Rp. 1000 (0.07 Eurocents…yes that’s true) a cone. He was known as Pak Gendut (Mr. Fatty). Oh, I still remember how good and refreshing it was for Surabaya’s 40-degree Celsius afternoon! Pictured here are three flavors: coco pandan (pink), avocado (green), and mung beans (light brown).
We, Indonesians, are obsessed with food and cherish our food & eating culture. What about in your culture? And do you ever have such a big feast at home?