Indonesia has so many different kinds of food. They are not only processed with different ingredients and spices, but also different cooking methods. While there are many cooking methods used in cooking these delicious dishes, many people agree that those that are wrapped or cooked in leaves taste the best. Have you ever tried one?
If you haven’t, these are leave-wrapped Indonesian dishes you need to try:
Pepes is a cooking method that uses a banana leaf as the food wrapper. There are so many different ingredients you can cook using this method, such as Pepes Ikan (fish Pepes), Pepes Ayam (chicken Pepes), and Pepes Jamur (mushroom Pepes). Those ingredients are mixed with rich, special spices and seasonings sprinkled with tomatoes and chilies. All is wrapped in banana leaf, and then steamed and/or grilled over charcoal. Pepes tastes the best when it’s hot, and served with hot Sambal and warm steamed rice.
Botok is a Javanese dish made from shredded coconut and mixed with other ingredients such as tofu, tempe, vegetables and fish. Just like Pepes, Botok is wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. Nowadays many Botok recipes and variants use additional ingredients as protein source, such as petai cina (leucaena) and eggs. Another dish that is prepared in a similar way is Buntil, but used papaya or cassava leaves instead of banana leaves.
Nasi Jamblang or Jamblang Rice is a delicious dish from Cirebon, West Java. It is a rice dish wrapped in teak leaf, and served with various condiments such as Sambal Goreng (Indonesian fried chili), Semur Hati (spiced braised liver), scrambled eggs, sambal, and so on. It is said that teak leaves help maintain rice quality, and add special aroma to the dish.
If you are familiar with Lontong (rice cake), Buras is a ‘sister’ of Lontong. Buras is a rice dumpling wrapped in banana leaf and tied with leaf fibers. Unlike Lontong, Buras is cooked in coconut milk, so it has richer flavor. Buras can be served plain, or consumed along with Rendang, curry, or Soto.
It might sound weird, but Nasi Bakar (baked rice) is one of the most favorite dishes in Indonesia. It is made of cooked rice that has been mixed with vegetables, meat (fish, beef or chicken), then wrapped in banana leaf like Lontong, and baked over charcoal. It has a unique aroma that will make your stomach growl in no time. Enjoy it with fried tempe and tofu, a dash of hot Sambal, and a sprinkle of fried shallots. Yum!
Garang Asem is one of the specialty dishes from Central Java. It is a chicken dish that is processed with coconut milk and wrapped in banana leaf. Additional seasoning from chilies and belimbing wuluh (sour carambola) is what makes Garang Asem tastes refreshingly spicy and sour. Actually you can cook Garang Asem without being wrapped in banana leaf, but banana leaf will give special aroma and flavor to the dish.
There are many Indonesian traditional snacks that are wrapped and cooked in leaves. First, there is Lemper, glutinous rice cake that at a glance looks like small Lontong with various savory filling. Then there is Nagasari, Javanese banana cake. We can’t forget other traditional snacks wrapped in dried corn leaves (husks or klobot in Javanese), such as Wajik Kletik (sweet sticky rice cake) from East Java and Clorot (sweet rice cake and coconut) from Central Java. Not to mention Otak-otak, fish cake in banana leaves that are usually served with spicy peanut sauce.