Experience an Indonesian Rijsttafel, a Culinary Treat for the Senses
Love Dutch food? You know, pancakes, pea soup, pancakes, raw herring with onions, and more pancakes. If so, great! If not, think again because there’s more to Dutch food than you know and when you experience an Indonesian Rijsttafel, your senses will be open to a tongue tantalizing wow.
The History of Indonesian Rijsttafel Food in Holland
During the 17th and 18th centuries, thanks in large to the Dutch East India Company, the lush abundant area in Maluki Islands, known as Spice Islands supplied the world’s demand for spices. The new, unheard of spices such as nutmeg, mace, clove and black pepper were in high demand especially among high-ranking Dutch workers in the sea and trade industry.
Dutch colonials became enamored with the Indonesian seasonings and cuisine which was colorful, vibrant, delicious and far from what they had eaten in Holland. The Dutch colonists and the Indonesian that migrated to Holland introduced an array of luscious foods namely the Indonesian Rijsttafel (literally means “rice table”).
With around 17,000 islands in Indonesia the cuisine and recipes vary. So when Dutch officials decided to feast, they did so by having their servants prepare mini portions of the country’s top culinary dishes to highlight the best of Indonesian cuisine for their dinner guests.
What to Expect at an Indonesian Rijsttafel Feast
So what can you expect from a Rijsttafel? Well, how about magic in a dish. Actually more than 18 dishes in my experience. Think chicken satay in peanut sauce, curried meats and vegetables, roasted coconut, sweet-sour cucumber—all served with rice.
This tantalizing combination of tastes and spices are hot, cold, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter—and eaten in an orchestrated manner. Your wait staff will use every centimeter of table space to line up the colorful dishes and guide you through the recommended eating order. Then get ready to enjoy the taste explosion.
I’ve ordered Rijsttafel at various Indonesian restaurants such as Blauw in Holland where I had a positive eating experience. Do check the internet and hopefully you’ll find authentic Indonesian restaurants serving Rijsttafel near you.
If you’ve burnt out on hearty Dutch classics, head to an Indonesian Rijsttafel restaurant or try making Indonesian dishes at home. Once you do, you’ll be clicking your clogs for more.