Cooking among the Indonesians has given rise to many beliefs. For example, a young girl is not recommended to sing while cooking – otherwise she will get an old man as her husband. It is also believed that a strong burning sensation in the mouth after spicy food can be got rid of by repeatedly turning the plate, and to avoid tears when peeling onions, it is enough to pierce one of the onions with a knife.
According to calculatorinc, the inhabitants of Indonesia consider rice to be the food of the gods and tell various legends about its appearance on earth – for example, according to one of them, a young man who went to heaven brought grains of rice from there in cracked heels. Among the Bataks in Sumatra, they hold the soul of a sick baby with boiled rice – the rice is so tasty that, having tasted it, the soul will no longer want to leave the child, and he will certainly survive.
Until now, not a single festive or solemn ceremony can do without rice. With wishes of well-being, they are showered with guests of honor or newlyweds. Giving an oath of allegiance, the bride and groom treat each other with glutinous (with saffron) rice. The national emblem of Indonesia is decorated with rice panicles, the image of rice is also present on the emblems of various parties and organizations.
Rice (nasi) is steamed, without salt or oil, and served separately. Nasi is the basis for other dishes, of which the most famous is fried rice seasoned with vegetables, small pieces of meat, fish, shrimp.
Noodles – originally a Chinese dish – has firmly established itself in Indonesia. Sauces and seasonings give it a peculiar taste. Here, just like in China, they believe that noodles are a symbol of a long and happy life.
The islands of the Indonesian archipelago are called the spice islands. Black and white pepper, tamarind, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, hot red or green peppers, peanuts, ginger, soy, garlic are essential components of hot spices.
Among meat dishes, Indonesian kebabs (sate) made from lamb, beef or chicken are the most popular. Indonesian men adore bovine testis sate because they are sure that they support male potency. Sate can be tasted not only in the restaurant, but also right on the street. They are prepared in braziers specially equipped on a bicycle or motorcycle. In the evenings, on the streets of Indonesian cities, the invocative cry of “sate!” is heard, and you just need to shout back, as numerous sellers of this delicious dish rush to you.
Other popular dishes are fried chicken, fish baked in a banana leaf, frog legs fried in dough. Very often in the evenings near the city ditches you can see boys with flashlights in their hands – they catch frogs. But the most delicious frogs, of course, are grown specifically for the kitchen. They are sold alive, tied in several pieces, at local bazaars.
A special place is occupied by swallow nests cooked in chicken broth. This is not only a delicacy, but also a medicine – for blood purification, asthma treatment, muscle tissue regeneration. Every year, hundreds of gatherers flock to the caves of Kalimantan, where swallows make nests from their saliva. Risking their lives, they climb long, rickety bamboo ladders with flashlights in their mouths. Some fall from dizzying heights and are crushed to death. But the temptation is too great – swallow nests are fabulously expensive, their collection gives a decent income.
But on the island of Bali, a favorite dish is lavar. These are finely chopped vegetables seasoned with fresh chicken or pig blood. Turtle meat and blood lavar is considered a delicacy and at the same time a life-prolonging dish. Often crushed turtle shell is mixed with meat. Lemon juice is added to keep the blood fresh. Lavar is the food of the gods, who, as the Balinese believe, descend to earth during numerous holidays and are invisibly present among people, sitting on the so-called lotus thrones specially reserved for them in temples. Therefore, lavar is one of the main sacrifices to the gods from the pantheon of Balinese Hinduism.
Traditionally food is served on a banana leaf. They eat with their right hand without cutlery. True, now they often use a spoon and fork, but never a knife! Before and after eating, the right hand is washed in a special vessel of water with a piece of lemon. Since the left hand is considered unclean, young children have an elastic band or thread tied around the wrist of their left hand so as not to be confused with the right.
Spicy food is usually washed down with cold water with ice. Soft drinks are also consumed: coconut milk with rice and palm sugar “bajitur”, crushed ice with sugar syrup and beans, a drink from sugar cane juice “air tebu”, ginger tea. Coconut milk is served directly in the coconut with the top cut off. They drink through a straw, and with a long spoon they scrape out the delicious white pulp from the inside.
Most Indonesians are Muslims and therefore do not drink alcohol. Indonesia produces very good “Isabella” and rice wine “Brem”, similar to port wine. The best local wine is Hatten, which is produced in Bali. For lovers of the classics – a large assortment of Australian, Californian and any European wines. The local palm vodka is called “arak”, served alone or with honey (as a liquor) and is well absorbed by the body.
For the sake of exoticism, you should definitely try “tuak” – beer from the juice of palm flowers.
The choice of delicacies is rich: fried banana “pisang goreng”, biscuits made from rice flour, fruit and sugar “dolol”, banana bread. A special place is occupied by a traditional Javanese cake made of white and yellow rice in the form of a truncated cone, symbolizing the well-being of the family. It is served on special occasions – birthdays, weddings, anniversaries. Guests are sure to eat at least a piece of the pie, take some of it with them in a banana leaf.
However, the best dessert, of course, is the numerous fresh fruits, ranging from bananas to exotic durian with an unbearable smell, but an unusually delicate taste, reminiscent of a mixture of grated nuts and strawberries. Indonesians are very fond of durian and eat it right on the street. Due to its high calorie content, high protein content, and extraordinary tonic power, it is called the king of fruits. It is believed that durian makes the body hot, and it is customary to seize it with a cooling mangosteen, the most exquisite fruit in the world. It is a red-brown apple-sized fruit with sweet and sour white slices inside. It is known that the English Queen Victoria fell in love with the mangosteen so much that she promised a reward to the one who would deliver it fresh to England!