The origin of Indonesian cooking

Ingredients for Indonesian cooking with Chillies

Setting the scene

Indonesian cuisine is as diverse as it gets. It is fusion food of the highest order, with many influences that have shaped it into the fine tasting food that it is today.

Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands, of which  6000 are populated. It is the world's largest island country,   with more than 1300 ethnic groups. With all these different groupings, there is a significant amount of diversity in Indonesian cuisine. Regional cuisine is to  a large extent shaped by local preferences, but with some  foreign influencesIndonesian ingredients

The cuisine can vary tremendously from region to region. For example, Javanese cuisine is primarily indigenous with a slight Chinese influence, and  Sumatra has Middle Eastern and Indian influences. Similarly, the cuisine of Eastern Indonesia bears more resemblance to Polynesian and Melanesian cuisine. There are  many other variations on these themes, sometimes with influences  from Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.

Most Indonesians like spicy foods. The use of Chillies and other spices feature significantly in their cooking. These are introduced to food in the form of bumbu spice mixtures.  Bumbus are spice blends traditionally ground on stone cobeks and ulekans ( pestle and mortars) until fine.  They may include garlic, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, galangal, nutmeg and Chillies. These are then mixed with other ingredients to make dishes with complex flavour. These dishes might be pungent, savoury, sweet, sour or bitter in flavour, or have combinations of these basic tastes. Ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste and shallots are widely used in most Indonesian cooking with Chillies . Rice is also an essential ingredient


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