KOMPAS.com - Indonesia's traditional candies are hidden gems in the country's storied culinary heritage. Often handmade in small shops and homes, they evoke a slower, more idyllic time that was lost due to traffic, smartphones and other aspects of development.
Unfortunately, these old-school treats are falling victim to modernization, as they start to give way to mass produced candies and snacks.
But whether you fancy a trip down memory lane or need to get a sugar fix on these distinctive treats before they are gone, below are listed some of Indonesia’s favorite classic candies.
1. Water buffalo milk candy
As the name implies, the main ingredient for this candy is water buffalo milk, which is milked directly by local breeders.
Originating from West Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara province, the candy is known for its distinctively savory, sweet flavor, and chewy texture. These traits locals prefer buffalo milk candy to their better known cow's milk counterpart.
2. Sour candy
Often sold in stalls, this classic candy is made with round tamarind pulp that is then coated with sugar. This tends to be one of the more divisive treats out there. Some people find it sickeningly sour; others are unrepentant defenders of the bite-sized delights.
Over time, finding authentic sour candies have become increasingly rare, as they were gradually replaced by their mass-produced counterparts.
3. Ting-ting peanuts
Among the candies on this list, the ting-ting peanuts crossed the front from candies to peanuts. They consist of nuts covered in caramelized Javanese sugar, then cut into pieces. Some producers even add sesame seeds to add flavor and aroma to the candy.
This snack can still be found in convenience stores or supermarkets, with a more hygienic packaging, particularly in other cities outside Jakarta.
4. Grandma’s hair
The so-called 'grandma's hair' candy is similar to cotton candy in that they are made of melted sugar that is then given corn flour before it is spun. But while cotton candy got its name from their fluffy texture, grandma's hair is stringy and sandwiched in a thin wafer.
Both are generally given bright dyes to attract children. Grandma's hair vendors were still common throughout Jakarta in the '90s. Nowadays, they went from the streets onto cyberspace, as a number of online shops sell processed granny hairs in various colors.
5. Ginger candy
Among rare candies, the ginger candy has bounced back during the pandemic. Made of ginger cooked in brown sugar, the candy balances spicy and sweet flavors, and leaves a warm sensation in the throat.
These characteristics make the candy a choice bite in cold climates. The Dutch are said to import ginger candy to Europe when they still controlled Indonesia. Ginger candy producers are still thriving, as they export these treats to the United States and other countries.
6. Gulo-gulo tareh (chocolate candy)
Originating from the city of Bukittinggi in West Sumatra, gulo-gulo means candy in the area's Minang language, while tareh means chocolate.
Gulo-gulo tareh is famous for their small two centimeter size and irregular shapes. Their ingredients are no less distictive, as they are made from real cane sugar and are coated in white sweet potato flour.
7. Gait sugar
Originating from the city of Samarinda in East Kalimantan province, the name of this sweet is derived from a local term for its mix of palm sugar and white sugar, that is then cooked until they become caramelized.
Also known as wood candy because its color and texture resemble chunks of wood, gait sugar is unique in the way they are made. These confections are made by getting pulled repeatedly until the caramel sugar becomes flexible. They are then printed in long and small shapes.
8. Mint candy
Mint candies come in more ways than one, from chips wrapped in paper, pieces in tin cans, to round shapes coated with sugar. Then as now, these candies are a favorite staple among travelers because they soothe the throat and relieve nausea during trips.
One well-known mint candy brand is Alba Pastiles, which is manufactured in Sukabumi, West Java. They can easily be found in gift shops in the province's Puncak area.
(Writer: Silvita Agmasari | Editor: Silvita Agmasari)
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