The mission of this Central Java trip was only one; to eat as much as possible! My family is the type that really enjoys local delicacies. Whenever we travel to other towns in Indonesia, we never ever need fancy food in the restaurants; what we want is the authentic, home-cooked food, be it in the traditional markets, street stalls, or local eateries. So, the next morning we headed to Pasar Gede. According to the locals, if you want to go for a feeding frenzy, this is the place that you got to be!
I found some nostalgic food in the market. A lady sold some parcels of banana leaves and blendhung. My mom asked what inside the banana leaves was and she said it was “bothokan daun so and lamtoro”. Bothokan is Indonesian dish of which you wrap some ingredients, depending on what you make, inside banana leaves and steam the parcel. I was scratching my head and wondering what daun so meant. My mom said it’s the same as daun melinjo (the leaves of gnetum gnemon). Lamtoro is bean from lead tree, it is also called white popinac seed or jumbie bean. Blendhung is a sort of snack made from boiled hominy, topped with freshly grated coconut. I often ate it when I was a kid and usually added a pinch of salt and sugar. It’s very simple, but it brings back a lot of memories of my childhood.
We also found something called brambang asem. We bought a portion for only 2000 Rupiahs (a bit more than 1 Eurocent😂). Brambang asem is actually rare to find nowadays. But, in Pasar Gede you can still find plenty of them. It consists of steamed sweet potato leaves, tempe gembus (sort of tempe made from soybean dregs), and sauce made of tamarind, chilies, palm sugar, grilled shallots and terasi (shrimp paste). You usually eat it with hands. It was finger licking good! We also bought sosis solo and arem – arem. Sosis solo is a kind of rolls with chicken filling. The skin is made from a batter with coconut milk. That’s why it’s very savory. Arem-arem is a sort of stuffed rice cake, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. The rice was perfectly cooked, and the chicken filling is spicy.
When we walked further, we saw a stall selling black paste, that looked exactly like the paste of pecel ndeso that we ate the previous night. Then there were some ladies selling lenjongan. Lenjongan is various Javanese sweets, usually served with toppings such as freshly grated coconut and palm sugar syrup.
We followed the market maze then, we stopped by a lady selling various kinds of crackers and snacks. We bought a lot from her; gula kacang (peanut brittle with palm sugar and ginger), kering kentang (fried potatoes with spicy palm sugar glaze and kaffir lime leaves), slondok (spicy tapioca cracker), keripik usus (chicken intestine crackers), pork crackling, rengginang (rice creacker with palm sugar syrup), etc. The kering kentang is truly a champion. I wish I bought more.
Towards the back of the first floor, we found a stall on my list; Dawet telasih Yu Dermi. Dawet is traditional Javanese drink consists of tapioca pearl, rice flour pudding, coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, glutinous rice, and pandan rice flour dumplings. But the one that Yu Dermi is selling has one more special ingredient: telasih (lemon basil seeds). She also uses caster sugar instead of palm sugar as the sweetening, so the color of the dawet was bright white. It was so refreshing. Beside her stall, there was also a woman selling fried chicken and all other chicken stuffs. Mom bought some. In my opinion it was a bit too salty.
We were told by one of the assistants at Yu Dermi that at the corner of the market there is a stall selling very delicious babi kuah (pork stew). Unfortunately, we were very full, and I have had stomachache since the second day of my holiday. So, we decided to save it for next time. Before leaving the market, I bought some bamboo wares: bamboo rice basket, rice sieve, etc. And right before we walk to the exit, we saw a lady selling cabuk rambak – another rare dish. It consists of ketupat (rice cake), sauce made of sesame seeds, candlenut, and coconut, and karak (rice cracker). It was good but not my favorite.
We stopped by the Royal Palace. I don’t know somehow; we were too lazy to come in. Nearby the palace there a tree with weird-looking fruits. My mom asked one of the ladies sitting there, what it was. She answered “pelem”. Pelem is a Javanese word for mango. Hmm…I don’t think it was a mango😂.
I am crazed with clay dishes and in Solo they are ubiquitous. So, we visited a roadside stall that is owned by a couple. They are very friendly and chatty. We ended up buying quite some from them.
When you go to Solo, do not forget to go to Pasar Gede. This is where you can really see and interact with the friendly locals and of course, sample delicious traditional fare.
Jl. Urip Sumoharjo
Opening hours: 08.30-16.30 everyday, Sun closed