June 25, 2020, 07.19 PM
A file photo of Laksa Betawi (noodle and vegetables in curry soup). KOMPAS.com/Silvita AgmasariA file photo of Laksa Betawi (noodle and vegetables in curry soup).

According to the Betawi Cultural Agency's official website, various ethnicities such as the Chinese, Indian, Arab, Portuguese, and Dutch have played a significant influence in Betawi cuisine.

The website cited as an example the acculturation between the Betawi people and the Chinese, which had influenced them in cooking noodles and meatballs. However, the Betawi ethnic who are mostly Moslem replaced pork meat with beef or chicken as pork is prohibited.

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Other ingredients, it added, such as rice noodle and bean curd were brought by the Chinese and those became important ingredients in soto (noodle soup), ketoprak (vermicelli and vegetables), fried beansprout and many more.

Meanwhile, the Indians who were traders from Gujarat and known as reliable cooks introduced the use of coconut milk, which then became widely used by the Betawi people.

The website also said the Arab people also introduced various spices such as cumin, cardamom, clove, sesame seeds, and ghee. They have influenced the Betawi people in cooking red onion pickles, soto tangkar (broth, meat and vegetable soup), and nasi kebuli, among others.

And the Europeans, it further added, also brought their influences into the Betawi cuisine. The Portuguese introduced the people here to baking and grilling, while the Dutch taught them slow-cooking or smoor in the Dutch language. The Betawi people pronounced it as semur. That’s how the semur daging and semur jengkol (dogfruit) came about. The Dutch also introduced milk, butter, and cheese, among others.

The areas where the Betawi people live have also influenced their dishes or snack preferences.
According to “Kuliner Betawi: Selaksa Rasa & Cerita” or loosely translated as "Betawi Cuisine: Taste & Story", the Betawi community who live in the coastal zone will mostly cook fish-based dishes, while those who live in the city will eat semur (stew) and make cakes and pastries for snacks. These were influenced by the people who migrated to Jakarta as traders.

For the Betawi people who lived on the outskirts of Jakarta, such as Depok, they created new dishes with the local community.

List of favorite Betawi dishes

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