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Traditional Indonesian Food Culture: Snacks Of Central Java

jajan pasar - traditional indonesian food culture
jajan pasar

I would like to introduce you to the traditional Indonesian food culture, especially covered in this post is traditional snacks that came from Central Java, where I grew up and stay there for over 20 years.

The best way to start tasting the food from another culture is through snacking. There are thousands of amazing Indonesian snacks that will make you want to go deeper into the cuisine.

I will go for the most original snacks that you can still find them easily if you visit the traditional market in these cities: Yogyakarta, Semarang, Solo, and Magelang.

So, without further ado. Here are the traditional snacks originating from Central Java:

1. Klepon (kleu-pond)

klepon1-traditional indonesian food culture
Klepon is a rice dough snack with a chunk of Gula Jawa (brown sugar or palm sugar) in it. When cooked with boiling water, that chunk of sugar is melted and you get a nice brown caramel in your mouth.

The green color is from the pandan leaf, and so does the flavor. On the outer part is covered with grated coconut. All together make Klepon taste sweet and chewy, combined with the texture of Gula Jawa plus shredded coconut, it can raise a little savory flavor.

In the market, Klepon is normally served on a banana leaf up to 3 or 4 pieces. And the price is as cheap as IDR 2000 per set. I personally love this snack as a company for afternoon tea.
Klepon-traditional indonesian food culture
Klepon on a banana leaf.

2. Mendut (Meun-dude)

This is also an old traditional snack but now became popular in many areas in the entire Java. Mendut is Klepon's twin brother, a rice dough snack as well. The difference is that Mendut filled with sugar grated coconut and covered with coconut milk.
mendut-traditional indonesian food culture
Mendut - red and white rice dough snack
Mendut tastes sweet like Klepon, same flavor and texture but with additional of creamy feeling. You can almost find it in any traditional market all over Central Java. The serving is different from Klepon as it has to be wrapped with banana leaves to prevent the cream from leaking.

3. Nagasari 

It doesn't point to a place in Japan :) -- just kidding. The pronunciation of the first two vowels is like in 'almost' (Naogao-Sari).
nagasari-traditional indonesian food culture
Nagasari wrapped inside a banana leaf
Nagasari is made from cassava flour and coconut milk so it's a gluten-free snack. It tastes creamy and tender, also slightly sweet--depend on the type of banana used. Sometimes it may taste sour a little bit from the banana. But between sweet and sour flavor, that what makes this cake so delicious.

4. Carabikang 

Pronounce the same as Nagasari on the first two vowels (Chaw-raw-bi-kang). This rice dough snack has an appearance like a blossoming flower. Used to be colored in green that basically came from pandan leaf, but today there are so many color variations.
carabikang-traditional indonesian food culture
This old-yummy snack basically made from rice dough and coconut milk. It tastes sweet and comes with a soft dry texture and fibrous, a little bit crunchy at the bottom part.

Carabikang is made using a cake mold. It 's like a pancake mold but has a round thicker hole. When the dough has been cooked and pried out that is how the flower shape comes out.

5. Getuk (Ghe-tuk)

Getuk is a traditional signature snack of Magelang, Central Java. They have a long history of this legendary snack back from the Japanese invasion in Magelang, it was around at 1940.
getuk-traditional indonesian food culture
Getuk with a sprinkle of shredded coconut.
Getuk is mainly made from cassava, the second abundant resources in Java after rice. Back in the Japanese invasion period where rice is scarcely found, people eat cassava alone until they get so bored.

And so there was this man named Mbah Ali Gondok from Desa (village) Karet-Magelang who creatively transformed cassava into a sweet-flavored snack. The delicacy of Getuk made by Mbah Ali Gondok was so popular at that time until the story of his Getuk was heard throughout the province.

The long business of Getuk from Mbah Ali Gondok is kept until now. You may still find his original Getuk at the front gate of Pasar Gede Magelang. Now it is sold by his great-grandchildren, Mbak Tinah. Just find a small food stand that sells Getuk and Klepon named "Getuk Warna - Mbak Tina - Karet".

Cassava as the main ingredient of Getuk is first boiled and then pounded many times to reach the smooth texture from the previously raw cassava. Natural sweetener such as brown sugar or cane sugar was added during the pounding process. Pandan leaves were used to add the fragrant aroma of the dough.

That is the story of Getuk, the legendary snack that is originating from Magelang, Central Java. Visitors who had finished seeing the Borobudur temple at Magelang can stop a while to buy this snack down at the city.

6. Wajik (Wah-jik)

wajik-traditional indonesian culture food
Although Wajik is very popular in Central Java, you may also find this glutinous super-sweet snack all over Java and Sumatra. Even in the Philippines, which is known as Biko--is quite similar to Wajik but uses additional ground peanuts and condensed milk. It also popular in Malaysia and India, but its origins can be traced to Indonesia.

Wajik is a sticky rice snack made with Javanese sugar (that is the brown color is from) and coconut milk. In my personal opinion, Wajik is kind of heavy snack as it is made from rice and Gula Jawa. So I think it's suitable to be consumed in the afternoon, with one nice hot tea or coffee.

The most delicious Wajik that you can buy is in Magelang. It calls Wajik Ny.Week__the good reputation is spoken with its long history they start the business.

7. Lemper

This is an extremely popular snack all over Indonesia. Whether you are in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Bali, or Sulawesi__they understand if you ask what Lemper is.
lemper-traditional indonesian food culture
It is the most favorable snack that Indonesian people often serve on many occasions.

Lemper is a savory snack made of sticky rice and filled with meat floss or seasoned shredded chicken. Lemper is ideally wrapped with banana leaves since it goes with it when it is steamed, and I think the leaves enhance the fragrant aroma of the rice together.


That is a few traditional Indonesian food culture snacks from Central Java that I can introduce to you for today. If you have been in Central Java before and tried a different snack from above, please shoot me a comment and I will add it on my post.

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