JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Both rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk and spices) and nasi goreng (fried rice) were announced as the world’s best foods by CNN in 2011. However, not many people know that Indonesia actually has many variations of both dishes depending on where they are made.
“When you buy nasi goreng in Lombok, the taste will be different compared to [for example] nasi goreng from Aceh,” said founder of Sobat Budaya (Cultural Buddies) community Hokky Situngkir. “Do you think rendang is only from West Sumatra? It can also be found in Kalimantan, but with a totally different taste.”
The difference, Hokky said, is due to Indonesia’s diverse range of spices. There are also 50 different types of soto (soup), 60 different types of satay, and other dishes that are related to each other.
Those who want to learn more about the many traditional Indonesian dishes and their connection with one another can download the Nusa Kuliner (Culinary Archipelago) app.
Officially launched on Nov 26, Nusa Kuliner is the result of a collaboration between research institute for complexity Bandung Fe and Sobat Budaya. The app boasts a collection of 1,458 traditional foods and beverages, including jamu (Indonesian traditional herbal and healthy drinks) and 100 types of sambal (chili-based sauce).
“Aside from the unique ingredients, Indonesian foods usually have certain philosophy that lies within them,” said Hokky who is also the president of Bandung Fe. “If we separate them, Indonesian foods will lose their excitement.”
The app requires users to zoom in the mapping of Indonesian traditional dishes. They can later tap the Bahan Makanan (Ingredients) section to find lists of carbohydrate sources, standard condiments (salt, sugar), vegetables and a plethora of other spices, fruits and proteins. The app will then show the names of Indonesian dishes that contain the aforementioned ingredients. When users tap on one of the names, a photo of that particular dish will show up.
“It is the initial feature,” said Hokky. “The purpose is to show the relatedness between Indonesian foods within the map based on the ingredients used to produce the food. For example, the main ingredient of nasi goreng is rice; what makes it different from one province to the other is the spices that are used.”
Aside from commonalities between different foods, users can also discover the underlying stories behind the dishes. “What’s more satisfying than knowing what we are eating? A dish can be more exotic when we understand that it is related to other dishes,” said Hokky, adding that they will collaborate with different research institutions to develop the app in the future.
The Nusa Kuliner app is available for free download on Android and iOS devices.
The launch of the app is part of Sobat Budaya’s series of events where they will hold a seminar and book launching. People are welcomed to add more information about Indonesian culture into its database at the Electronic Library of Indonesian Culture.