When visiting Central Java, Indonesia, this sweet stew made of jackfruit is a must-tried dish for those who like culinary adventure.
What kind of food is it?
Gudeg is a traditional dish of Central Java made of green jackfruit stewed with coconut milk, palm sugar and several kinds of spices and other ingredients. The main spices used include garlic, candlenut, Indian bay leaves, shallots, teak leaves, coriander and grated galangal. The tasty flavor comes from the coconut milk; the spices make it hot and spicy, the sweet savor is produced by the palm sugar and the teak leaf provides
There are two kinds of gudeg, the wet and the dry. The wet one served with gray broth called “areh” that looks like Indian curry made mainly of coconut milk. Wet gudeg uses less teak leaves and usually more chilies and coconut milk, thus the color is paler the taste is hotter and it looks watery. Dry gudeg on the contrary looks brownish due to more teak leaves and served without areh broth. It is also sweeter.
How is it served?
Both dry and wet gudeg always served with white rice and some other side dishes which commonly are sweet stewed chicken, boiled egg cooked in chili sauce, sweet marinated tofu and tempe (traditional food made of soybean) and the hot-tasty-spicy beef skin stew. The latest is a must side dish to go along with gudeg. Sometimes added chilli sauce called “sambal” and shrimp crackers are also provided.
To make the flavor even richer, the gudeg plus white rice, which is usuallystill hot and other additional side dishes are served on top of banana leaf. The heat from the rice will let out a tempting aroma from the banana leaf. This aroma combined with the smell of the dishes will makes gudeg irresistible. To preserve the taste and the aroma, gudeg can be kept in a small clay pot called “kendil”
How traditional it is?
To make this dish perfect, it needs to be cooked for six to eight hours in a clay pot using traditional wood burning stove. Today this traditional method of cooking is still survive and some restaurant serving gudeg still apply it although many had now changed to a more practical and modern method of cooking. However, different cooking mode creates different flavor. Gudeg cooked traditionally will definitely taste better. The more traditional you go, the bigger the chance you will get a better-tasting dish.
Where to find it?
Gudeg vendor can be found in almost every street corner in Jogjakarta, a city in the Middle Eastern part of Java Island and its neighboring city of Surakarta. Sometimes it is sold in a cart or the vendors will go door to door selling the dishes using a huge bamboo basket carried on their back or head. For full satisfaction, try to find restaurant or food stall that still cook it in traditional way. Bon Apetit!