Friday, April 13, 2012


Monday, March 5, 2012

Indonesian Food

Indonesia's 17,508 islands have attracted traders, pirates, and adventurers from all over the world throughout its history. Located among ancient trading routes and rich with botanical resources, these remote islands quickly became a global interest. Spices were valued not only for their flavor, but also for their ability to disguise spoiled foods, freshen breath, and remedy health problems. Though eastern Indonesia's "Spice Islands" received most of the attention, the country's cuisine, as a whole, developed largely as a result of spice-seeking immigrants.
Rice, the country's staple food, dates back as early as 2300 B.C. Ancient meals consisted of fish, fruits, and vegetables, including bananas, yams, coconut, and sugar cane. Trade with the Chinese, which
first began around 2000 B.C., influenced Indonesian cuisine and is still evident through the use of tea, noodles, cabbage, mustard, soybeans, and the method of stir-frying. The Chinese dish, nasi goreng (fried rice), is one of Indonesia's national dishes.
By 100 A.D., curries (spicy sauces), cucumbers, onions, mangoes, and eggplant were brought over by traders and Hindu missionaries from India. Ginger, cumin, cardamom, coriander, and fennel were also introduced, adding to the wide variety of spices. Around the 1400s, Muslims from the Middle East began incorporating goat and lamb dishes into the Indonesian diet, as well as yogurt-based sauces (though coconut milk is now used in its place).
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to significantly affect Indonesian cuisine. They took control of trade routes to and from the islands, bringing with them cassava (a tropical root crop) and sweet potatoes. Cauliflower, cabbage, and turnips were brought to the islands about a century later by the powerful Dutch East Indies Company, which gained control of the trading routes. Though the Spanish contributed peanuts, tomatoes, corn, and the widely popular chili pepper, they were unable to defeat the Dutch, who ruled until the mid-1900s.