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goodfoodgood is a web portal which provides information about food and ingredients to people around the world. We take the dinner conversation online to share knowledge and inspire others to care about what they eat.

Indonesian Bread

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? ;)

Bagelen Bread

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.

Crocodile Bread


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.

Gambang as instrument

Gambang as 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! :P 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.”

TRUE.  :)


(crocodile picture)

(gambang instrument picture)

Special thanks to :

Chef Kelana

Chef Budi  (gambang bread picture)

Riana Ambarsari (bagelen picture)

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  1. October 10 2011 // Amelinda Angela

    Love this post! And love those breads too ;) Anw, I didn’t know that Gambang bread was made of bread scraps, wondering what the original bread tastes like :D

    • October 10 2011 // Vendryana

      Thank you! Me neither, but i would love to make some if i have enough bread scraps ;)

    • January 19 2012 // Butterfly

      Right on-this helped me sort tighns right out.

  2. October 11 2011 // Elisabeth Setyo

    o my god, this breads! like this! reminded me of a happy childhood..also present, of course.. full of memories! wanna try this at home soon.. thanks.

    • October 12 2011 // Vendryana

      hihi you’re welcome! i hope people do have concern to keep this breads, so our future generation can taste them as well and have the same opinion like yours :)

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  4. October 18 2011 // Pepy @Indonesia Eats

    You haven’t shared about other Indonesian flat breads; roti jala and roti maryam. Those rotis have influenced from India as the name of roti itself :)

    Roti Maryam is really popular in Surabaya and accompanied of gulai kambing kacang hijau (goat and mung bean curry). However lately this roti is popular to be eaten with jam, chocolate spread or sprinkle and others.

    Meanwhile roti jala is a popular among North Sumatrans and Acehnese especially the Melayu Deli (Medan) descendants.

    • October 18 2011 // Vendryana

      Nice info! Thanks for adding the information ;)

    • January 19 2012 // Birdie

      Me dull. You smart. That’s just what I nedeed.

  5. November 5 2011 // husqvarna lawnmower

    Great! thanks for the share!

    • November 8 2011 // Vendryana

      Thank you! Thanks for reading :D

  6. November 12 2011 // lose fat

    You’re indeed correct on this blog post!!