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The Indonesian rijsttafel (literally rice table) is a staple in almost every Indonesian restaurant in the Netherlands. However, even those who don’t live in Holland can still enjoy this classic Dutch Indonesian meal at home.
The most important feature of a traditional Indonesian rijsttafel is that several dishes and side dishes are placed onto the dining table simultaneously. The idea is that you first heap white rice, nasi (fried rice) or bami (fried noodles) onto your plate, before helping yourself to a little of all the other exotic side dishes. Below we have included links to recipes of the most essential (side) dishes for a typical Dutch Indonesian rijsttafel.
The basics: white rice, nasi goreng and bami goreng
Prepare your white rice as normal, taking care to ensure that it’s not too sticky. It’s best to avoid using aromatic rice varieties, such as basmati or jasmine rice, and to opt for Surinamese or parboiled rice, as these boasts a lovely neutral flavour. If you plan to serve nasi goreng (fried rice) in addition to white rice, then prepare some extra rice and allow it to cool thoroughly first. Alternatively you can serve a deliciously aromatic bami goreng.
Warm side dishes: Indische kipsaté and loempia’s
Indische kipsaté is surprisingly easy to prepare and can be served alongside a separate bowl of satay sauce for topping when required. Loempia’s are another Dutch favourite at the Indonesian rijsttafel – loempia’s are comparable to Chinese spring rolls, but tend to be larger and more extravagantly filled.
Cold side dishes: atjar tjampoer and kroepoek
The majority of Dutch serve ready made atjar tjampoer, with their Indonesian rijsttafel, although you can rustle it up yourself in next to no time: simply grate a little white cabbage and some carrot, finely chop an onion, and then mix together in a bowl with a splash of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. Kroepoek (Indonesian prawn crackers) are a little bit more complicated to prepare – thankfully you can also purchase ready made kroepoek in all sorts of exciting varieties, including extra spicy.
Condiments: ketjap manis, sambal oelek and seroendeng
No authentic Indonesian rijsttafel would be complete without those famous Indonesian condiments, including ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce), sambal oelek (a particularly hot chilli sauce) and seroendeng (a unique seasoning prepared from ground peanuts, coconut flakes and salt).
Selamat makan! (“Bon-apetit” in Indonesian)
Want to learn more about the history of the Indonesian rijsttafel? Then read our fascinating blog, “Dutch Colonial Culinary Traditions”.
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?