Javanese cuisine

Javanese cuisine

Javanese cuisine refers to the food of the people of Java Island, Indonesia.

The island of Java is multiethnic. Not all Javanese islanders belong to the Javanese ethnic group. There are other prominent ethnic groups too: Sundanese in West Java, and Madurese on Madura Island off East Java. These ethnic groups have their own distinctive cuisines.

Javanese cuisine (not including Sundanese and Madurese) is largely divided into two major groups:

1. Central Javanese cuisine (masakan Jawa Tengah)

2. East Javanese cuisine (masakan Jawa Timur)

3. Common Javanese dishes

There are similarities in the two 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 the common staple food, and served with every meal. Gaplèk, or dried cassava, is sometimes mixed into rice or replaces rice. Bread and grains other than rice are uncommon, although noodles are often served as accompaniment to rice. Potatoes usually accompany rice too.

Almost 90% of Javanese are Muslim, and consequently, Javanese cuisine never contains pork. Only a few ethnic groups in Indonesia use pork in their cuisine, most prominently in Indonesian Chinese cuisine, Manado cuisine, and Balinese cuisine.

Central Javanese cuisine

The food in Central Java is largely influenced by the two ancient kingdoms of Yogyakarta and Surakarta (also commonly known as Solo). Many of Central Java-specific dishes contain the names of the area where the food first became popular. For example:

- Gudeg Yogya: Young jackfruit and hardboiled egg stew, very sweet. This is usually accompanied by a side of beef skin stew.

- Bakso Solo: Bakso literally means meatballs, made of beef, and served in boiling hot soup with mung bean-thread noodles, green vegetables, shredded cabbage, and various sauces (chili, tomato). This version from Solo has super-sized meatballs, the size of tennis balls. Also known as Bakso Tenis. Bakso is a Chinese-influenced dish, but has become a popular snack throughout Indonesia.

- Ayam Goreng Kalasan/Klaten: Local organic free-range chicken, stewed in spices (coriander, garlic, candlenut, and coconut water feature strongly) then deep-fried until crispy. Served with sambal and raw vegetable salad.

- Timlo Solo: A beef and vegetable soup.

- Soto Kudus: Soto is a common Indonesian soup infused with turmeric, and can be made with chicken, beef, or mutton. This version from Kudus, a Central Javanese town, is made of chicken.

- Jenang Kudus: A sweetmeat made from rice flour, palm sugar and coconut milk.

- Lumpia Semarang: Fried or steamed spring rolls. The filling varies, but it is mostly meat and bamboo shoots. It is served with sweet fermented soybean sauce (tauco).

- Sate Blora: Chicken satay

- Swikee Purwodadi: Frogs' legs in fermented soybean (tauco) soup.

- Srabi Solo [] : A pancake made of mostly coconut milk, mixed with a little rice flour as thickener. Srabi can be served plain, or with toppings such as sliced banana, chopped jackfruit, chocolate sprinkle (muisjes), or cheese.

- Teh poci Tegal: Tea brewed in a clay teapot, served with rock sugar. Tegal, a Central Java town, is a major producer of high-quality tea.

Other dishes that are said to have originated from Central Java are:

- Wingko babat: A cake made largely of glutinous rice and desiccated coconut, toasted and sold warm.

- Madu mongso: A sweetmeat made from fermented black glutinous rice, cooked in coconut milk and sugar. It is sticky and very sweet, and comes wrapped in corn husk.

- Bakpia: A sweet pastry filled with sugared mung bean paste.

- Tongseng: A strongly-spiced curry of bone-in mutton, which is quickly stir-fried at the point of sale with vegetables added.

East Javanese cuisine

The East Javanese cuisine is largely influenced by Madurese cuisine - Madura being a major producer of salt, hence the omission of sugar in many dishes. Many of the East Javanese dishes are also typically Madurese, such as Soto Madura and Sate Madura, usually sold by Madurese settlers.

Although there are many dishes with town names attached to them, these dishes are commonly available in every town and there is usually a local version of the dish. The most popular town-associated dishes are:

- Pecel Madiun: A salad of boiled vegetables, dressed in a peanut-based spicy sauce. It is usually served as an accompaniment to rice. A peanut or dried fish/shrimp cracker ("rempeyek") is served on the side. Not to be confused with "pecel lele", which is deep-fried local catfish served with sambal.

- Soto Madura: A turmeric-based beef and offal soup, served with boiled egg, and sambal.

- Sate Madura: Chicken satay.

- Soto Lamongan: Chicken soto (food) originated from the town of Lamongan.

Other dishes that are not location-specific:

- Rawon: A dark beef soup, served with mung bean sprouts and the ubiquitous sambal. The dark (almost black) color comes from the kluwak ("Pangium edule") nuts.

- Rujak Cingur: A mixture of boiled and raw vegetable salad, with a special twist that is the boiled beef snout ("cingur") mixed in. It is then dressed in a sauce made of caramelized fermented shrimp paste ("petis"), peanuts, chili, and spices. It is usually served with "lontong", a boiled rice cake.

- Semanggi is a salad made of boiled "semanggi" ("M. crenata") leaves that grow in paddy fields. It is dressed in a spicy peanut sauce.

- Lontong balap literally means "racing rice cake", which is a dish of rice cakes, fried tofu, and beansprouts, doused in kecap manis and sambal sauce. In the past, lontong balap hawkers carried their wares in a large, heavy metal urn. The heaviness caused them to have to walk really quickly while carrying it, so they looked like they were "racing".

- Tahu campur: A beef meat and offal soup, mixed with fresh vegetables, potatoes, rice cake, and tofu. The secret ingredient is the caramelized fermented shrimp pasted (petis) which is mixed in just before serving.

- Tahu tek is a dish containing cut-up fried tofu, boiled vegetables (mostly beansprouts), potatoes, drenched in a peanut-based sauce. The sauce has caramelized fermented shrimp pasted (petis), chili, and garlic.

- Gado-gado is similar to pecel, but includes different vegetables as well as boiled egg slices and a garnish of fish/shrimp crackers and emping ("Gnetum gnemon L." nut, flattened, dried, and fried into small thin crackers).

- Ronde (aka "wedang ronde") is a hot Javanese dessert containing glutinous rice balls stuffed with peanut paste, floating in a hot ginger and sugar soup.

- Angsle (aka "wedang angsle") is a hot soupy dessert of sago pearls, pre-cooked glutinous rice and mung beans, putu mayang (brightly-colored, noodle-shaped flour cakes), fried peanuts all drowned in hot, sweet coconut milk.

- Ayam penyet is fried chicken (see ayam goreng), lightly smashed using a pestle in a mortar laced with sambal.

- Bebek goreng is a variation of ayam goreng which uses duck instead of chicken.

- Gule kambing is mutton cooked in a curry-like coconut milk soup.

- Klepon: A glutinous rice ball stuffed with palm sugar, colored green using pandanus leaf, and rolled in fresh desiccated coconut.

- Jajan pasar: Several types of shaped and colored flour, rice flour, and glutinous rice flour cakes, sprinkled with desiccated coconut and drizzled with melted palm sugar. "Jajan" literally means "snack", and "pasar" means "market", as this snack is usually only found in traditional markets.

- Cwie mie: A Chinese-influenced noodle dish, containing boiled and seasoned noodles, topped with pre-cooked minced meat (usually pork) and boiled wonton. Similar to the Chinese zhajiang mian.

- Nasi rames or nasi campur: Rice with accompaniments, usually some curried vegetable stew (sayur lodeh), a selection of cooked fish or chicken or meat and offal pieces, and a dollop of spicy sambal. (See similar dish Rijstaffel)

- Nasi kuning is similar to nasi rames or nasi campur, but the rice is cooked in coconut milk and colored bright yellow using turmeric.

- Sop buntut: Oxtail soup.

- Kripik tempe: Tempeh chips, made from thinly-sliced, deep-fried tempeh (soybean cake).

-sego krawu: rice with sambal trasi and meat

Common Javanese dishes

These are the common Javanese dishes, which can be found throughout Java regardless of the location.

- Sayur asem: Vegetables in tamarind-flavored soup. Can be served hot or cold.

- Pepes: Meat, chicken, or freshwater fish/seafood mixed with a spice paste, wrapped in banana leaf, then steamed or grilled.

- Tumis sayuran: Stir-fried vegetables, usually mixed with chili and a spice paste.

- Sayur lodeh: Curried vegetable stew.

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