While planning out future blogs post, my original plan was to write a “food of Indonesia” post. After just a few days of exploration Indonesian cuisine, I’ve realized what a Sisyphean task that would have been. I should’ve known better. To think that I could do justice to an entire country’s culinary landscape—a country that includes hundreds of cultures, thousands of islands, and millions of people—in a single post was grossly underestimating what there was to discover. There are noodle dishes, rice dishes, porridges, stews, soups, bean dishes, desserts and juices. There are influences from all over the world but also regional specialties and flavors. Sweet, spicy, hot, cold, sour, bitter, crunchy and tender, the whole gamut of food experiences are represented and combined in ways that are unique to Indonesia. To say the least, it has been a thrilling adventure discovering the foods offered here and like many adventures full of the unexpected.
So I thought long and hard about what dish should be the first one featured in the food series. There are many famous Indonesian dishes that a simple Google search will reveal. Gado Gado. Nasi Uduk. Rendang. Nasi Goreng. They have been praised in newspapers and blogs everywhere, even taking CNN’s top two positions for most delicious food in the world. And without a doubt these dishes will be featured on this blog…eventually. My choice for first feature is a simple dish of beans and rice, called Bubur Kecang Hijau Ketan Hitam. Or just Kecang Hijau for short.
This simple dish doesn’t get enough love. I’ve always been partial to comfort foods—foods that feel like you could have gotten them home cooked from a local family. Kecang Hijau (Kecang, “Bean” and Hijau, “Green”) is a simple food of mung bean, red rice and sweetened milk. It is a perfect meal to start the day or have it on ice for a refreshing snack. The first time I had it was after lunch, seeing a cup of green and red goodness and having no idea what it was. The vendor placed it in a bowel for me with ice. Light and cool it got me through the rest of a work day. Afterward, it became a regular breakfast food for me. A perfect protein of beans and rice with just enough sugar to give me a boost of energy. It also comes with 2 pieces of very soft, thick pieces of white bread. The combination is phenomenal. So I start my review of Indonesian food with the dish that starts my day.
The first Kecang Hijau that I tried.