It’s funny when my European friend said that not all the breads are called “bread”. For her, the sweet bread is NOT bread, it’s a cake. Back home in Indonesia, we use the word “bread” to all types of bread, it’s a universal word. No matter if it’s savory or even sweet. Bread is not our main food, we eat rice a lot rather than bread. Some Indonesian people (mostly for those who live in poverty) think that bread is an expensive food that they can’t afford to buy.
Most of breads in Indonesia are under influences from Middle East, Chinese, Indian, and Dutch culture. For example, “roti canai” is one kind of bread influenced by Indian culture. It has a flat shape and usually we consume it with curry. Bakpao is one of the Indonesian breads with Chinese influence, it’s a steam bread with meat or mung bean filling. There are unique facts about Indonesian bread, well, I will focus on these three breads which has different uniqueness.
First, Roti Bagelen or Bagelen Bread.
At the beginning, I thought that this bread was from another country, because its name sounds uncommon for me. Then I found that Bagelen is ORIGINALLY from Indonesia. That’s a good news! Now, let’s start wondering what Bagelen is. Close your eyes and here we go: Bagelen is a round bread, with its extreme crispiness, and its sweet spread; baked whipped butter with powdered sugar. Yum! Why Bagelen? Bagelen is the name of the area in Purworejo, Central Java. Therefore, in Bagelen, there are a lot of Bagelen makers. Make sense, huh?
The second one that i want to tell you is Crocodile Bread.
What? Sounds horrible? Mmm… But the taste is not horrible at all. Don’t worry, this sweet crocodile won’t bite you! Let’s say, it’s scary but tasty! Crocodile bread is originally from Betawi (we can say, traditional Jakarta). There must be crocodile bread in every Betawi traditional wedding party. There’s a history behind the name, they say that crocodile is the loyal animal and also represents long life. They usually made a pair of crocodile bread, a male and female crocodile. People can get this kind of bread in various sizes, from tiny crocodile up to 1 meter long! The size of this bread shows the social status of the bridegroom. The bigger crocodile bread that the bridegroom gives to the bride, the richer family he has.
Last but not least, Gambang Bread.
It’s Javanese traditional bread with sweet enjoyment from cinnamon and Javanese red sugar, where the brown color comes from. Betawi people called it “Gambang” because it looks like a traditional music instrument named Gambang as well. This Gambang instrument arranged side by side with its color and shape that are similar to Gambang Bread.
There’s one unique fact behind this bread. It is made from bread scraps! But it was the original recipe, when people had to survive under Dutch colonization many years ago. Yeah, now you see how creative Indonesian people are! Now, people modificated for this Gambang Bread, they use baking powder instead of yeast, and they don’t use bread scraps but ready to use bread crumbs. The original texture of Gambang Bread is a little bit chewy, these modifications added more ‘bread texture’ to Gambang Bread.
At the end, I will put one inspiring quote from one of my favorite food bloggers, Riana Ambarsari:
“This skill of turning crap into gold has made us one of the happiest nations in the world, no matter what had happened.”
Special thanks to :
Chef Budi (gambang bread picture)
Riana Ambarsari (bagelen picture)TAGS: bagelen, Betawi, bread, Chinese, crocodile bread, Dutch, gambang, Indian, Indonesia, Jakarta, Javanese, Middle East, Vendryana