Gula Merah – The Indonesian Sugar
If you want to sweeten your meal in Indonesian way, you will use Gula Merah, which actually represents the palm sugar. This type of sugar is made by extracting and boiling sap from the palm tree and usually, it is found in the form of a block, not granulated like other types of sugar.
Candlenut or kemiri is the type of nuts that is supposed to give the dishes a special taste of nuts and a delicious creamy mass. It is usually an inevitable part of dishes such as sambal.
Aromatic ginger, also known as kencur, is another popular spice in Indonesia, but it should be used carefully because of its really strong and intense flavour. It is one of the most important ingredients of meals such as karedok. Another interesting spice that can be compared to ginger is laos, that has the same role in a meal and pretty much the same shape as ginger. The only difference is that laos offers a bitter taste and it is not as “strong” as ginger.
Even though many of you may think that nutmeg is a way more popular ingredient of meals in Indonesia, having in mind its enormous popularity on the market in the entire Europe during the 17th century, you may be surprised to know that this dark red solid fruit is not typically a common ingredient of Indonesian cuisine. However, when it is used, it is commonly added as a spice, in a dry, powdered form.
Maybe it is not an ingredient that is usually found in the Indonesian meals, but it is one of the herbs whose smell is inevitable because it is one of the ingredients of Indonesian cigarettes made of clove, named kretek. However, if Indonesians use it as a spice, they usually do it really carefully, since this spice can be pretty intense. They commonly remove the head of the clove, to reduce its strong smell in a dish. Many years ago, this herb has been grown only in the area of Maluku islands, during the trade war between the Portuguese, Dutch and English.
Now that you have got some basic information on some of the greatest and typically used spices, it is the best time for you to start thinking of Indonesian food that you would like to prepare using one of these spices, or even a combination of them – why not? Let’s explore the magnificent world of Indonesia through these delicate specialties on our plates.