Indonesian cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world and Java is a place where all your tasting buds will be singing with joy! The unique taste of Javanese cooking will linger long after you have tasted it and for sure you would want to try some the delicious recipes. This heaven of traditional cuisine is divided into three major groups: Central Javanese cuisine (masakan Jawa Tengah), East Javanese cuisine (masakan Jawa Timur) and typical Javanese dishes you can find everywhere on the island of Java.
There are similarities in the cuisines, but the main differences lie in the flavors. Central Javanese cuisine is sweeter and less spicy, while East Javanese cuisine uses less sugar and more chili, possibly influenced by Madurese cuisine. Rice is standard and served with every meal. Bread and grains other than rice are uncommon, although noodles and potatoes are often served as an accompaniment to rice. Almost 90 percent of Javanese are Muslim, and that is why Javanese cuisine omits pork. Few ethnic groups in Indonesia use pork – mostly Balinese, Indonesian Chinese and you can also find it in the cuisine of Manado in Sulawesi. So what is so special in Javanese cuisine? Let us take you on the food tour of Java where every meal is unique.
Many of Central Java-specific dishes contain the names of the area where the food first became popular. You can enjoy Gudeg Yogya – young jackfruit, chicken, and hardboiled egg stew, with sweet and savory taste. This is usually accompanied by a side dish of spicy beef inner skin & tofu stew. Bakso Solo is from the town of Solo. Bakso means meatballs and they are served in hot soup with mung bean thread noodles, green vegetables, shredded cabbage, and chili sauce. This version from Solo has super-sized meatballs, the size of tennis balls. Also known as Bakso Tenis. The East Javanese cuisine is largely influenced by Madurese cuisine – Madura island being a major producer of salt, so there is no sugar in many dishes.
One famous dish is Rawon: a dark beef soup served with mung bean sprouts and spicy sambal. Black color comes from the kluwak (Pangium edule) nuts. You can also enjoy Pecel Madiun – a salad of boiled vegetables, dressed in a peanut-based spicy sauce, to be eaten with rice and dried fish or shrimp cracker (rempeyek) on the side. Pecel Lele is totally different dish – deep-fried local catfish served with sambal. Some of the standard Javanese dishes include Sayur Asem (vegetables in tamarind-flavored soup), Pepes (chicken, or fish/seafood mixed with a spice paste, wrapped in banana leaf, then grilled) and Tumis sayuran (stir-fried vegetables mixed with chili). Are you hungry yet?■