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Gorengan: Indonesian Fritters

Photo: Gorengan, or fried food, is a popular snack in Indonesia. It usually sold out of street carts and is made of bean curds, bananas, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. JustVON!/Flickr

Language: Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)

Esther Tanuadji

From dawn till dusk and continuing until late evening, gorengan (literally “fried food”) carts can easily be found on almost every street corner in Indonesian. Gorengan is an Indonesian snack commonly consumed between meals.

This snack comes in various types, the most common of which is fried tempe (soybean cake) and fried tofu. There are also various types of tempe: tempe mendoan (with bigger bean curds) found in the western part of Java, or tempe menjos (fermented soybean cake) popular in eastern part of Java, for example. Another kind of favorite gorengan is vegetable fritters made from shredded carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts. This gorengan is called “Bakwan Sayur” in western Java, or “Ote-ote” in eastern Java.

Photo: Fried bananas are a popular variety of Indonesian gorengan. Miran Rijavec/Flickr

Some gorengans taste sweet, like the popular fried banana variety. Other sweet gorengans are made of fried sweet potatoes and molen (banana wrapped in a thin-shaped flour mold).  

Photo: Fried tofu is another popular version of gorengan in Indonesia. Anwar Siak/Flickr

Once considered poor men’s snacks, gorengan is a prevalent tasty snack that can easily be obtained at an affordable price. With gorengan, a coffee and a cigar, the people’s break is complete. The only downside with gorengan is, since it is fried, this snack is high in cholesterol. Nevertheless, this does not hinder Indonesians from consuming it.

Nowadays, gorengan is also sold in shopping malls. This high-end gorengan is usually made from higher quality ingredients and fried in higher grade oil. It also comes in a bigger size, in nicer packaging and usually is priced higher. The good news is this type of gorengan is reaching wider economic segments.

Esther Tanuadji for Vox Orbis, 2015

Gorengan: Kudapan Khas Indonesia

Foto: Gorengan, adalah kudapan yang digemari di Indonesia. Makanan ini biasanya dijual di rombong-rombong dan terbuat dari tahu, pisang, ubi, dan sayuran lain. JustVON!/Flickr

Bahasa: English (English)

Esther Tanuadji

Fajar hingga senja, dan terus berlanjut hingga larut malam, penjaja gorengan bisa dengan mudah ditemukan di hampir setiap sudut jalan di Indonesia. Gorengan adalah kudapan khas Indonesia yang umum dikonsumsi di sela-sela waktu makan.

Kudapan ini hadir dalam berbagai jenis, namun yang paling umum ditemukan adalah tempe goreng dan tahu goreng. Tempe goring pun hadir dalam berbagai jenis, mulai dari tempe mendoan yang biasanya ditemukan di bagian barat Pulau Jawa hingga tempe menjos yang umum ditemukan di bagian timurnya. Jenis lain dari gorengan yang banyak digemari masyarakat adalah bakwan sayur, yang juga dikenal sebagai ote-ote di wilayah timur Jawa. Gorengan ini terbuat dari irisan wortel, kubis, dan kecambah yang dicampurkan ke dalam adonan tepung.

Foto: Pisang goreng adalah salah satu jenis gorengan yang digemari di Indonesia. Miran Rijavec/Flickr

Selain itu, ada juga gorengan yang rasanya manis, misalnya pisang goreng yang menjadi favort orang banyak. Gorengan lain yang juga manis rasanya adalah ubi goreng dan molen (pisang yang dibungkus dalam adonan tepung tipis).

Foto: Tahu goreng adalah salah satu jenis lain gorengan yang digemari di Indonesia. Anwar Siak/Flickr

Dulunya dianggap sebagai makanan untuk kalangan menengah ke bawah, gorengan pun menjadi kudapan enak yang mudah didapatkan dengan harga terjangkau. Saat santai juga menjadi lengkap jika ditemani kopi, rokok, plus gorengan. Satu-satunya aspek negatif dari gorengan adalah kadar kolesterolnya yang tinggi karena makanan ini harus disiapkan menggunakan banyak minyak.

Saat ini, gorengan sudah banyak di jual di pusat-pusat perbelanjaan. Gorengan jenis ini biasanya dibuat dari bahan-bahan dengan kualitas lebih tinggi dan digoreng dengan minyak yang mutunya lebih baik. Gorengan ini pun biasanya dijual dengan ukuran yang lebih besar dan kemasan yang lebih menarik. Tentu saja, harganya juga lebih tinggi. Namun berita baiknya, kondisi ini membuat gorengan berhasil menjangkau segmen ekonomi yang lebih luas.

Esther Tanuadji untuk Vox Orbis 2015

Indonesia’s Profound Feline Affection

Photo: Cats are popular pets in Indonesia thanks to their friendly personality, cute appearance and tame behavior. This tabby calls Indonesia home. Rizki Ekananda/Flickr

Language: Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)

Esther Tanuadji

In Indonesia, the cat is considered one of the most popular pets. Indonesians prefer cats to other pets mostly because their fur comes in various colors, they are cute and not wild. They are friendly, affectionate and playful. Some people even pick cats as a pet to comfort their soul.

Furthermore, Islam—a major religion in Indonesia—considers the cat a quintessential animal.  Persecution and killing of cats is prohibited in some Islamic haddits. Cats are also loved by the Prophet Mohammad himself, who is reported to have said that “a love of cats is an aspect of faith.”

Photo: The Turkish Angora, pictured here, is a popular breed of cat in Indonesia. Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Among the various breeds, Angora, Persian, Himalayan, Exotic, and Kampong (Domestic) are the most popular in Indonesia. The Maine Coon is also getting increasingly popular nowadays.

Photo: Himalayan cats, pictured here, are also popular pets in Indonesia. Bambang Suryobroto/Flickr

The number of cat fanciers in Indonesia is also enormous. Independent groups of cat lovers are prevalent and each group has its own distinct activities. Qori Soelaiman, for example, founded Yayasan Peduli Kucing—a cat-awareness foundation—that focuses its effort on saving stranded cats. She even publishes an anthology of memorable moments with cats. Other organizations that promote cat adoption are also flourishing.

Dea-Dea is an island in Sulawesi dedicated specifically to cats and now has become a tourism destination. To reach this island, tourists travel by speedboat for 15 minutes from Belang-Belang Dock in Tonyamang Village.  Although there is no specific record of when cats started to inhabit Dea-Dea Island, it is believed that the cats have lived and reproduced there for several decades without any human intervention.

Esther Tanuadji for Vox Orbis, 2015

Indonesian Independence Day

Photo: With plastic spoons in their mouths, these children wait patiently for marbles to pass back and forth to each other. This game is part of a traditional Indonesian Independence Day celebration, which falls on Aug. 17. Danumurthi Mahendra/Flickr

Language: Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)


In August, Indonesia and many neighboring countries celebrate their independence, including Malaysia and Singapore. Gabon, a country in Africa, celebrates its independence on Aug. 17, the same day as Indonesia.

A few days before the independence day celebration, preparations are done throughout Indonesia. Flags are mounted in front of houses, streets and buildings are decorated with colorful banners and people clean and freshen up their neighborhood.

On Aug. 16, a thanksgiving is done in each neighborhood. People will gather in a meeting hall in the neighborhood, give thanks to God for the independence and then have dinner together. People may also visit the heroes’ graveyard to pay homage to the soldiers who died during the fight for independence.

On the morning of Aug. 17, to commemorate the day when Indonesia declared her independence, a flag ceremony is carried out everywhere from Merdeka Palace, government offices, schools, universities and throughout even the smallest districts. The main part of the ceremony is reading the Declaration of Independence, at 10 a.m. sharp.

Here’s the English translation of the Declaration of Independence, published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:


We the people of Indonesia hereby declare the independence of
Indonesia. Matters which concern the transfer of power and
other things will be executed by careful means and in the
shortest possible time.

Djakarta, 17 August 1945

In the name of the people of Indonesia


Besides formal events, there are fun games and competitions. Some games require skill to play, such as the sack race, eating crackers, inserting a pencil into a bottle, stilts, cooking and singing national songs. In the sack race, you will get into a burlap sack and hop with it for a certain distance. You win if you reach the finish line without tripping or falling. Eating crackers is not as easy as it may sound, because you will have to eat a cracker hanging on a rope without touching it by hands. To insert a pencil into a bottle, a pencil is tied to a rope at one end and the other end is tied to your waist or neck, leaving enough length for the pencil to hang freely below to a bottle placed on the ground. Then you must try to insert the pencil into the bottle. The difficulty level can be increased if you are blindfolded.

Other games need teamwork, such as tug-of-war, passing marbles, giant wood sandals, and pole climbing. During tug-of-war, each team faces the other, and both teams have to pull a piece of rope in the opposite direction. To pass marbles, you and your team will have to move marbles one by one from one side of a bowl to the other. You move the marbles using a spoon placed in your mouth and you may not touch it by hands. The fastest team to finish moving all the marbles wins. During the giant wood sandals game, a team wears a pair of long wood sandals that can fit three to five people, and tries to walk a certain distance to the finish line. Great teamwork is needed in coordinating each step. During pole climbing, the pole is greased and the team will have to climb the slippery pole to the top, where some attractive rewards are waiting for them.

Photo: This woman has an unfortunate spot at the bottom of the pole during the slippery pole climb; a traditional game played during Indonesian Independence Day. John Orford/Flickr

Besides games, some events can be held to help build rapport among neighbors or communities, like picnics, bazars, and green walks, where people living in a neighborhood gather in early morning and walk together around the neighborhood. They can enjoy the fresh air and scenery, exercise and get to know their neighbors. Stores, shopping malls and restaurants also give special discounts, so these places are crowded with people.

Photo: Tug-of-war is traditionally played during Indonesian Independence Day. Yulianawati

Whatever the form of celebration is, Aug. 17 is one of the most important day for Indonesians. It is a reminder that they can enjoy the independence today thanks to the heroes in the past who paid the price with their precious lives. As a thanks to them, it the job of Indonesians nowadays to maintain it.

1945-2015. Happy 70th Independence to Indonesia. Merdeka!

Author’s Note: Merdeka means independence or freedom. This was widely used among the soldiers during the war time as a greeting and a slogan.

Yulianawati for Vox Orbis, 2015

Hari Kemerdekaan Indonesia

Foto: Dengan sendok plastik di mulut, setiap anak dengan sabar menantikan kelereng yang dioperkan oleh teman-temannya. Permainan ini adalah bagian dari perayaan Hari Kemerdekaan Indonesia, yang jatuh pada tanggal 17 Agustus. Danumurthi Mahendra/Flickr

Bahasa: English (English)


Di bulan Agustus, selain Indonesia, cukup banyak negara merayakan hari kemerdekaan, termasuk negara tetangga: Malaysia dan Singapura. Bahkan, Gabon, satu negara di Afrika,  juga merayakan hari kemerdekaan pada tanggal 17 Agustus.

Beberapa hari menjelang hari kemerdekaan, berbagai persiapan dilakukan di seluruh Indonesia. Bendera dipasang di depan rumah-rumah, jalan-jalan dan bangunan dihiasi umbul-umbul dan dekorasi berwarna-warni, dan kerja bakti diadakan untuk membersihkan dan memperindah lingkungan.

Pada tanggal 16 Agustus, diadakan acara syukuran dan beberapa orang mengunjungi taman makam pahlawan, untuk menghormati para pahlawan yang gugur saat membela kemerdekaan.

Pada tanggal 17 Agustus pagi, untuk memperingati detik-detik proklamasi, diadakan upacara bendera, mulai dari istana negara, kantor pemerintah, sekolah dan universitas, sampai RW. Puncak acara ini adalah pembacaan teks proklamasi, tepat pada pukul 10.00 pagi.

Selain acara formal, ada juga permainan dan lomba yang seru. Beberapa permainan memerlukan ketangkasan, seperti lomba balap karung, makan kerupuk, memasukkan pensil ke dalam botol, jangkungan, memasak dan menyanyikan lagu kebangsaan. Permainan lain memerlukan kerjasama tim yang baik, misalnya tarik tambang, mengoperkan kelereng, terompah raksasa, dan panjat pinang. 

Foto: Wanita ini kurang beruntung karena kebetulan dia berada di bawah saat panjat pinang; permainan tradisional untuk merayakan Hari Kemerdekaan Indonesia. John Orford/Flickr

Di samping permainan, ada acara yang dapat diadakan untuk menjalin keakraban, seperti piknik, bazar, dan jalan sehat. Tak ketinggalan, toko-toko, mal dan restoran memanfaatkan momen ini dengan memberikan diskon khusus, sehingga tempat-tempat itu pun ramai diserbu pengunjung.

Foto: Tarik tambang biasanya dimainkan untuk menyemarakkan Hari Kemerdekaan Indonesia. Yulianawati

Bagaimanapun bentuk perayaannya, 17 Agustus adalah salah satu hari yang terpenting bagi bangsa Indonesia, untuk mengingat bahwa kemerdekaan yang dinikmati saat ini dibayar dengan darah yang mahal oleh para pejuang di masa lalu, jadi saat ini harus dipertahankan.

1945-2015. Dirgahayu Repulik Indonesia ke-70. Merdeka!!

Yulianawati untuk Vox Orbis, 2015

Rujak Manis: A Cheery Indonesian Snack

Photo: Rujak manis is a popular Indonesian snack made of fruit and served with sweet and sour sauce. Yulianawati

Language: Indonesian(bahasa Indonesia)


Rujak manis is a type of Indonesian salad made of fresh fruit, both tart and sweet, served with sweet and sour sauce. You can easily find rujak manis vendors passing by with their carts or parked on the side of the road during the day. Some restaurants also serve rujak manis.

Any kind of fruit that is crunchy, juicy, half-ripe or a little bit sour is best for rujak. It is common to use apple, pineapple, star fruit, cucumber, papaya, rose apple and jícama. Mango, ambarella and salak (snake fruit) are seasonal and can be added if available. You may also try other fruit like honeydew, cantaloupe and pear. Other than fruit, fried tofu and kerupuk (deep-fried crackers) can be added. All fruit is peeled and sliced wide, for easy dipping and scooping the sauce. Rujak sauce is made of palm sugar, tamarind, peanut, Thai chili, terasi, (shrimp paste) and salt. Vendors grind up the ingredients and a add little water until the sauce is gooey.  Some of my favorite rujak vendors add crushed, fried garlic onto the sauce.

Unlike other types of salads commonly served as appetizers, rujak manis is a snack that is best enjoyed with family and friends. The juicy fresh fruits that are sweet, sour, salty and hot make rujak manis best in cheering up a social gathering.  It is also fun to have a potluck rujak party—known as “Rujakan”—where each person can bring the ingredients, make and enjoy rujak together.

Unlike other types of salads commonly served as appetizers, rujak manis is a snack that is best enjoyed with family and friends. There is a saying, “Good food makes for good conversation.” The juicy fresh fruits combined with the sauce in rujak manis will create a mixture of taste, such as sweet, sour, salty and hot.  The right composition of these flavors can help build a good mood. It is also fun to have a potluck rujak party—known as “Rujakan”—where each person brings ingredients to make and enjoy rujak together. Rujak manis is not only enjoyable by itself, but the process of making it can help bring people together.

A plate of rujak manis might look simple, but it is a pleasant way to enjoy the health benefits of different fruits at an affordable price.

Yulianawati for Vox Orbis, 2015

Rujak Manis: Makanan Ringan Khas Indonesia yang Menceriakan Suasana

Foto: Rujak manis, makanan ringan yang banyak digemari di Indonesia, dibuat dari buah-buahan dan disajikan dengan saus asam manis. Yulianawati

Bahasa: English (English)


Rujak Manis adalah sejenis salad yang berbahan utama buah-buahan segar dengan rasa manis dan masam yang disajikan dengan saus manis pedas. Rujak manis cukup mudah ditemui karena banyak dijual oleh pedagang kaki lima di tepi jalan atau oleh penjaja keliling. Beberapa restoran bahkan mencantumkan rujak pada menunya.

Buah-buahan yang dipilih biasanya bertekstur renyah, berair, mengkal atau agak masam. Yang biasa digunakan adalah apel, nanas, belimbing, mentimun, pepaya, jambu air, dan bengkuang. Mangga, kedondong, dan salak adalah buah musiman yang bisa digunakan jika tersedia.  Ingin mencoba buah yang berbeda? Melon dan pir bisa menjadi pilihan. Selain buah, tahu goreng dan kerupuk juga bisa ditambahkan. Semua buah dikupas dan diiris tipis melebar, agar kita lebih mudah mencedok bumbunya. Saus untuk rujak manis atau bumbu rujak terbuat dari gula jawa, asam, kacang tanah, cabai, terasi, dan garam. Semua bahan dihaluskan dan diberi sedikit air sampai cukup kental. Beberapa penjual rujak favorit saya menambahkan bawang putih goreng yang dihancurkan pada bumbunya.

Tidak seperti salad yang biasanya dinikmati sebagai hidangan pembuka, rujak manis adalah makanan ringan yang paling enak dinikmati bersama keluarga dan teman. Rujak manis yang segar, bercita rasa manis, asam, asin, dan pedas sangat cocok dihidangkan untuk meramaikan acara kumpul bersama atau arisan. Pasti sangat seru jika bisa mengadakan “Rujakan”, dimana setiap orang yang datang akan membawa bahan rujak dan membuat serta menikmati rujak bersama.

Sepiring rujak manis mungkin tampak sederhana, tetapi ini bisa menjadi cara yang menyenangkan untuk menikmati manfaat kesehatan dari berbagai macam buah yang terdapat di dalamnya dengan harga terjangkau.

Yulianawati untuk Vox Orbis, 2015

Indonesian Flip-Flops

Photo: Flip-flops, Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Wittyben/Flickr

Esther Tanuadji

From boys, to lecturers, to presidents, the flip-flop cannot be set apart from Indonesian life and can be found in every household. However, nowadays, the flip-flop has a set of different stories in Indonesia.

Since 2012, the flip-flop has become a symbol of injustice in Indonesia. A 15-year-old boy was thoroughly beaten by a police officer for stealing a pair of flip-flops and sent to prison for 5 years. The officer was only jailed for 7 days. The Indonesian Child Protection Commission started a solidarity action; they collected 600 pairs of flip-flops and sent them to the Headquarters of the Indonesian National Police.

Photo: Flip-flops in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia. Adam Sundana/Flickr

Another story of the flip-flop comes from an Indonesian lecturer who visited an immigration office. Instead of formal shoes, he wore a pair of flip-flops. The officer refused to conduct the scheduled interview because the lecturer was considered to be wearing improper attire. The lecturer reported this to the Jogjakarta Ombudsman. For him, flip-flops were irrelevant to his interview. The Jogjakarta immigration office clarified that, for “ethical reasons” it is their policy to stop people wearing flip-flops from entering their office.

During the administration of Gus Dur (from 1999-2001), a former president of Indonesia, flip-flops were even allowed to enter the Indonesian State Palace. Prior to becoming a president, Gus Dur was an influential Islamic leader. On occasion, some kyai (Islamic clerics) from East Java visited Gus Dur in the Palace, wearing sarongs and flip-flops. Though banned at first, they were allowed to enter the istana (the state palacewearing their flip-flops.

Esther Tanuadji for Vox Orbis, 2015