Adopted from: http://www.foodbycountry.com/Germany-to-Japan/Indonesia.html
1 GEOGRAPHIC SETTING AND ENVIRONMENT
The Republic of Indonesia consists of five large islands and thousands of smaller islands (about 6,000 of which are inhabited), with a total area of 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,100 square miles). The country's soil and climate support a number of agricultural crops, with sugar being the largest commercial crop. Indonesia is the world's third largest producer of coffee (after Brazil and Colombia), the the second-largest producer of palm oil (after Malaysia). Rice production increased during the 1980s and 1990s. Because of improved agricultural techniques, Indonesia now grows almost enough rice to meet the country's demands. However, the unrestricted use of fertilizers and pesticides has also resulted in significant damage to the environment.
2 HISTORY AND 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.
- 1½ cups cooked and cooled long grain rice
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- Pinch of dark brown sugar
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- After preparing the rice, heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and add the onion, garlic, and chili powder.
- Add the rice, soy sauce, and sugar and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Combine and stir well, cooking for 5 to 6 minutes.
- If the mixture becomes too dry, add some water, or even a beaten egg.
- Remove from the heat and serve on a large plate.
- Garnish as desired.
Makes 4 servings.