Jewel in Colonial Crown
The Dutch penchant for Indonesian food is very much a legacy of its colonial past. Indonesia, with its wealth of spices, was once considered the jewel in the Netherlands' colonial crown. The Dutch not only embraced Indonesian food in the colonies, but they brought it back home with them, too. When Indonesia gained independence after the Second World War, many Indo-Dutch families - often the result of intermarriage between Dutch colonists and local women - settled in the Netherlands. Today, some 2.4% of the Dutch population is of Indonesian descent.
Indo-Dutch food is actually a fusion cuisine, with elements from both the Indonesian and Dutch kitchens. So, for example, the famous rijsttafel (which literally means 'rice table'; a spread of dozens of Indonesian specialties from different regions) was created by the colonial Dutch to mark special events. Many of today's beloved Indo-Dutch recipes changed and evolved through the years because the original Indonesian ingredients simply weren't available in the Netherlands at the time. Naturally, new recipes were also created using typically Dutch ingredients with an Indonesian touch.
Indonesian food remains Holland's favorite adopted cuisine and dishes such as nasi goreng, bami and satay have been completely absorbed into the national kitchen. Dutch families still celebrate special occasions by going out to an Indonesian restaurant for rijsttafel, while snacks such as the bamischijf (deep fried noodles in a bread crumb crust) and patat sate (Dutch fries with satay sauce) are excellent examples of Indo-Dutch fusion. Considering the cuisine's enduring popularity in the Netherlands, it's only natural that I've long been seeking the Indonesian cookbook to set both my palate and my heart on fire. With Boekoe Kita, I think I've found it.
Indonesian Recipes & Stories from Hearth & Home
So, for example, Bianca, the daughter of a Dutch mother and Indonesian father prefers recipes that taste pure and full of flavor but are easy to prepare, like her spicy version of traditional Dutch brown bean soup. Meanwhile, Han loves nothing better than peanut butter and sambal sandwiches and Linda slips inspirational messages into Christmas ball ornaments instead of placing "fortunes" into fortune cookies.
Each section focuses on recipes using a key ingredient from the Indonesian kitchen. There are lemongrass recipes, dishes with ketjap (Indonesian soy sauce), and sections for recipes that use coconut, rice, garlic, tofu, goela djawa and other ingredients. Many recipes require ingredients that can only be found in Asian supermarkets (some substitutes are listed in the introductory pages), but there are also a number of recipes that can be made using everyday ingredients. Conveniently, separate recipe indexes list both the Dutch and Indonesian names of dishes.
Design & Photography
You can tell that this beautifully made cookbook was a labor of love for its creators. It features mouthwatering, beautifully styled photographs that truly make you want to run to the kitchen to cook. There are photos for most of the recipes in the book (joy of joys!), while colorful illustrations and graphics add visual interest and bring the subject matter to life.
Try a Recipe from the Book