Tumpeng, the national dish of Indonesia

On my virgin trip to Jakarta, I got to witness a Tumpengan, a traditional Indonesian ceremony whereby the top of a tumpeng is cut and given to a guest of honour.

Tumpeng is considered the national dish of Indonesia, a conical mountain of nasi kuning (yellow rice flavoured with coconut and tumeric) surrounded by an assortment of Indonesian meats and vegetables and perched on a circular woven tray.

As far as I could tell, this Tumpeng was encircled by poached long beans, abon (floss), blanched beansprouts, spinach, perkedel kentang (mashed potato fritters), stuffed chillis, shredded omelette, sambal udang (chilli prawns), tempe orek (sweet and dry fried tempeh), teri kacang (anchovy with peanuts), empal gepuk (sweet and spicy fried beef), urap (coconut), and udang goreng (fried prawn). I particularly liked the tempeh, all nutty and soft and totally addictive.

Another discovery on the Jakarta trip, was the gross-looking but very succulent Salak, otherwise known as snake fruit. Its skin certainly resembles one, doesn't it? Peel that away and it reveals creamy bulbs of juicy fruit.

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