An exploration into Javanese and Padang Cuisine
A book by Karissa Munaf
Table of Contents
1. 5. 7. 9.
Introduction to Javanese Cuisine
Sour Vegetable Soup
13. 15. 17.
Introduction to Padang Cuisine
10. 12. 14. 16.
Spicy Dried Beef
Green Chili Chicken
18. 19. 22.
Left Pages: Javanese
My mother is Javanese â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Central Javanese to be exact. It is largest ethnic group in Indonesia, predominantly located in the island of Java. The Javanese cuisine holds a great meaning in my life, particularly in childhood years. Javanese cuisine has remained more true to its strong ties to the indigenous peoples of Java. They are known for its simplicity, and remarkable and rich flavor. Some Indonesians perceive Javanese cuisine as sweeter compared to other Indonesian dishes. This is due to the of the liberal use of gula jawa (palm sugar) or kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). The Java island has two prominent divisions: East and Central. Where my mother is from tends to be sweeter and less spicy than East Java, where they use less sugar and more chili, possibly influenced by Madurese cuisine or Indian cuisine. Rice is a very important ingredient in Javanese cuisine. Tumpeng, a yellow cone-shaped rice is essential Javanese traditional ceremonies. Most of the time they use steamed rice, sometimes processsed into a rice cake, lontong, or mixed with coconut milk. I have always loved my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s homemade Javanese dishes, perhaps more than the ones they make at the restaurants. My favorite ones are often with soup, which you will see later in the following pages.
simplicity sugar homemade
freshJava unique spices Central flavourful warm indigenous rice natural
halal orange unique
Padang beef curry festive
Chili tasty West Papa family Rice rendang pepper
Spicy salty hidang
Right Pages: Padang
My father is from Padang. It is located in West of Sumatra. Padang food is famous for its rich taste of succulent coconut milk and spicy chili. They put much emphasis in three elements: gulai (curry), lado (chili pepper) and bareh (rice). My mother always says that this family eats Padang food all the time. Although yes, I do admit that most of the family favor salty and spicy dishes more than sweet â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I personally love both equally. Padang food is ubiquitous in Indonesian cities. They are also very famous internationally. Minangkabau people, also known as people from West Sumatra, also strongly profess to Islam, that is why the Padang cuisine follows halal dietary law rigorously. My family also celebrates Eid al-Fitr with rendang along with so many other Padang food. They are very common for traditional and religious ceremonies, and weddings. Furthermore, Padang food tend to be really spicy. However, this could be different for each family or restaurants according to their recipies. They also emphasize on slow-cook techniques in their cooking method. This deals with a lot of patience and consistency. In Padang, the ability to cook gulai is important. It is considered as smart cooking. Gulai is almost in all Padang food, which makes it a crucial component in the recipe.
Tomato Soup Sup Tomat
I can simply say that my mother’s homemade tomato soup is my bias. It’s the food I eat when I’m sick, when I come back from New York, when I’m feeling sad, when I need something warm — the food that I pratically grew up with. My mother even said that this was the food she ate most of the time she was pregnant with me. Although it is not a typical Javanese dish, but it’s the one that my mother cooks most frequently. The tomato soup is not particularly everyone’s favorite dish in the family, especially my brother. He likes salty food better, but I love every bit of it. I love how the soup warms my stomach; I love the combination of the soft carrots with the textured meatballs; I love how rich the red color of the soup; I love the sweetness with a touch of salt; I love it the most when I eat it with rice (Yes, all Indonesians eat their soup with rice); lastly, I love how it reminds me so much of my mother. I have never tried any other tomato soup besides the one my mother makes. There is so much joy and love involve in this dish. Starting from the moment it is cooked, to the experience of tasting it.
It’s not hard to cook this food. My mother taught me a few months before I leave for New York so that I could make it here. There are only six main ingredients: scallion, tomatoes, ground meat, ginger, shallots, garlic, and carrots. To cook the food takes around an hour — faster if you don’t do it alone. My favorite part creating this dish is creating the ground meat into tiny meatballs. It is the most time consuming, but it’s exciting everytime I drop them inside the boiling soup. My mother could do it only with one hand, I had to use both my hands of course.
Beef Rendang Rendang
Beef rendang is one of the most iconic dishes from Padang. My father told me that rendang has a very unique concept behind it: all families have different flavors and recipes. This is what I find so fascinating. Besides that, rendang is by far my favorite dish from Padang. It reminds me so much of my grandma. Everytime I visit her house, which is located just a few steps from mine, the smell of rendang would be all over the room. She makes the best rendang. Her knowledge is then passed down to my mom. What makes my family’s rendang different from others is that we use cow spleens, and this is the best part about it. Although it is usually cooked with meat, I always hunt for the cow spleens. They are very tender and chewy, and they blend perfectly with the rich spices.
To cook this dish is truly an adventure; an adventure that can take almost half of the day. The method is called a slow-cook. The curry sits over low heat for up to eight hours, or until the coconut milk begins to caramelize. I have only tried cooking this dish once, and it takes a lot of patience and consistency. The most time consuming part of the method is stirring the curry until the liquid is all gone, and the meat is tender. The result of the rendang should look somewhere around dark brown and black. Once they are done, our family eats them with rice. In ceremonies, however, we eat them with lontong, also known as sticky rice cakes. My big family always celebrates Eid al-Adha with rendang and lontong every year. Rendang is always associated in festive and traditional ceremonies. For these reasons, rendang is often seen as grandeur and important. My mother once said, like all Padang families, they always think their version of rendang tastes the best. I, who is half Padang, think the same too.
Sour Vegetable Soup Sayur Asem
Sayur asem is one of my mother’s favorite Javanese dishes. Sayur means vegetable and asem means sour. It is a popular Javanese vegetable in tamarind soup. The sweet and sour flavour of this dish is considered refreshing and very compatible with fried or grilled dishes, including fish. It is a kind of vegetable salad, usually raw but can also be cooked, that is usually eaten with sambal terasi, which is a famous Javanese hot sauce. I am personally not fond with this dish. Mainly because of the unusual selection of raw vegetable, most of the time I eat the soup only. I often see my mother and grandmother eat sayur asem. It is true what most people say about it; they are very refreshing, particularly the part when it warms the stomach. Any kinds of soups are fulfilling.
I have never cooked this dish before. However the ingredients seem pretty simple. The typical raw vegetables are: cabbage, chayote, melinjo nuts, snake beans, corn, lemon grass, bay leaves, and tomatoes. The soup is sweet due to the use of palm sugar, and it is sour because of the tomatoes. With the add of raw vegetables, the soup creates a crunchy texture when eaten. This is also another reason why the dish is considered refreshing.
“Sour” “Warm” 7.
Chicken Gulai Gulai Ayam
Chicken gulai is everyone’s go-to Padang food. Most people call them gulai ayam, which translates to chicken gulai, but my family calls them ayam kalio. It is chicken cooked in a spicy, rich, yellowish, curry-like sauce called gulai, again a very common component in Padang cuisine. This is perhaps my brother’s favorite dish, which makes eating chicken gulai a competition (He finishes them really fast). I remember eating chicken gulai after having a really long day, or from a tiring volleyball match, or even after craving them the whole day. They can truly increase your energy, it is simply fulfilling. I am truly a huge fan of spicy food, most of us in the family are except my brother. He’s still trying to improve his tolerance. So the chicken gulai are often made less
My father says Padang food are full of different spices which makes them so rich in flavor; the chicken gulai truly embodies this. Many have said the cooking method is much more sophisticated, especially with all the spices combined. They include turmeric, ginger, chili, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, and so many other spices that I can’t remember. The gulai has a rich color of yellow resulted from the tumeric, which is probably why it looks flavourful aesthetically. Furthermore, it is also common to use goat meat in gulai. Together, with chicken gulai, they create the most popular variant of gulai. However, there was a time when my family tried beef instead of chicken (as requested from my brother of course). It was very unique. There are so many ways you can combine gulai with; they all come hand in hand. One time I ate it without any meat. This proves just how flavourful gulai is.
Smashed Chicken Ayam Penyet
Ayam penyet, smashed friend chicken in English, is an Eastern Javanese dish consisting of fried chicken that is smashed with the pestle against mortar to make it softer, served with chili (sambal), slices of cucumbers, fried tofu and tempeh. In Indonesia penyet dishes, such as fried chicken and ribs are commonly associated with Surabaya, the capital city of East Java. It is also known for its spicy sambal, which is made with a mixture of chili, anchovies, tomatoes, shallots, garlics, shrimp paste, tamarind and lime juice. Like its namesake, the mixture is then smashed into a paste to be eaten with the dish. Ayam penyet is an incredibly spicy Javanese dish that will make your tongue feel like burning, especially for those who don’t have a high tolerance of spicy food, like my brother. My family have not made this dish yet, but it is pretty much similar to the Indonesian fried chicken. There are two versions of serving smashed chicken. One with crispy crumbs scattered on top, and one without.
This dish is always my go-to choice whenever I contemplate of what to eat. It never fails me. Upon finishing the dish, I always ending up feeing fulfilled and a little bit bloated because of all the water I need to drink. Some restaurants do make them really spicy, but it makes the whole experience exciting and fulfilling. To me the best part of this dish is the chili. The dish is nothing without the spiciness. Smashed chicken is also preferred to be eaten by hand. This is the best way to eat the chicken until it’s clean. Also, eating with hands adds to the whole experience.
Padang Satay Sate Padang
Sate Padang is a flavor explosion. It is a speciality satay from Padang made from beef cut into small cubes with spicy sauce on top. Its main characteristic is the thick yellow sauce made from rice flour mixed with beef and offal broth, turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, galangal root, cumin, curry powder and salt. Sate Padang is typically sold as street food in push cart all over Indonesia. I especially love the thick sauce. It is almost like curry I must say. My family and I used to eat this so often. We would go to the push cart that is located in front of the hospital and eat them in the car. We always come late at night because the don’t open during day time. The later, the better. This dish is not something you can always find on the menu in restaurants, and is very rare in the United States.
I have never tried to cook Sate Padang; in fact I don’t recall seeing anyone in my family creating this dish. It is always something our family eats at Padang restaurants. However, this dish is very easy to describe — it is pretty much simple. Sate Padang usually has yellow-coloured sauce. The fresh beef is boiled twice in a large drum filled with water to make the meat soft and juicy. Then the meat is sliced into parts and spices are sprinkled on the meat. The broth is then used to make the sauce, mixed with 19 kinds of spices which have been smoothed and stirred with various kinds of chili. All seasonings are then put together and cooked for 15 minutes. The sate will be grilled just before serving, using coconut shell charcoal. Sate Padang is typically eaten with rice cakes (lontong). The chewy texture of the beef blends perfectly with the hot and soft rice cakes. However, our family is quite different. We would very much have our Sate Padang with lamb meat rather than beef. Lamb meat adds another extra chewiness when eating. I find this to be the best part of the dish. My family can eat up to 20 sticks of satay. It is that simple and fast to eat Sate Padang.
Fried Catfish Pecel Lele
Pecel Lele, or Pecak Lele, is a deep fried Clarias catfish dish. It is commonly served with traditional sambal chili paste, often served with fried tempeh, tofu, and steamed rice. It is a popular Javanese dish widely distributed in Indonesian cities, especially in Java. However, it is often associated with Lamongan town, west of Surabaya in East Java, as majority of pecel lele seller hailed from this town. This dish is often served in a street-side humble tent warung in Indonesian cities. Pecel lele can be considered as an affordable food for everybody. There is one restaurant in the city I grew up in that serves the best pecel lele. My parents would always take us to the same place for this particular dish. And they are right. I can’t argue with them. They do serve the best pecel lele. The fish is so fresh. The sambal is so strong. The vegetable on the side create a perfect balance with the spicy and tender fish. This dish is dynamic. With the spiciness from the sambal, it creates the aura of eating pecel lele full with adrenaline. In fact, this is what sambal does to all dishes. It makes the whole experience of eating filled with adrenaline and excitement.
Pecel lele is best eaten with your hands. In this way can you truly enjoy the whole experience of eating this dish. That is why I think eating pecel lele is exciting, and fun. Another aspect besides fun, the catfish containst a lot of bones. Lots of lots of bones. The small ones are the hardest parts. They become dangerous if swallowed. I remember when I was younger, my mother would always peel the bones for me. Every bit of them. Sometimes she would feed the dish to me with her hands. This is not an unusual habit for children in Indonesia. Therefore, I would always remember the times when my mother fed them to me — how gentle she was every time I open my mouth to eat.
Spicy Dried Beef Dendeng Balado
“Dendeng” refers to dried cooked meat (mostly beef ), and “balado” refers to red chilies-based spicy sauce. This dish consists of thinly sliced dried meat. It is preserved through a mixture of sugar and spices and dried through the frying process. Very similar to jerky. Dendeng was created by the Minangkabau people. At first they made Dendeng from beef, drying it so it could be eaten for days and bringing it with them when they travel. The most common dendeng in Indonesia is dendeng sapi (Beef Dendeng), and it usually tastes sweet through the addition of coconut sugar caramelization.
This is one of my favorite dishes from Padang. I remember bringing them whenever I travel outside Indonesia. Because they are dry, it makes them so easy to be preserved and kept inside a container throughout a plane ride. They are firm, which makes them slightly crunchy to eat. The beef are gristly too. Causing them to be slightly difficult to chew time wise. My grandma used to make them for me. Since I am a big fan of spicy food, this dish is perfect for me. The one my grandma made was at a perfect level of spiciness. They are not too spicy, nor they are too bland. Spicy dried beef also creates the best combination with rice. They are best when mixed together equally. The softness of white rice blends beautifully with the firm, dried spicy beef. This makes me remember the times I ate them when traveling in different countries. Since Padang food are rare to be found in many countries outside Indonesia, I know I can always rely on spicy dried beef whenever I crave from Padang dishes.
Succulent Rice Nasi Liwet
Nasi liwet is a succulent rice dish cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth and spices, from Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. Common steamed rice is usually cooked in water, but nasi liwet is rice cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth, salam leaves and lemongrass, thus giving the rice a rich, aromatic and succulent taste. Nasi liwet is a traditional Javanese way of cooking rice in coconut milk. The dish is typically topped with a slice of omelette, shredded chicken that had also been cooked in coconut milk and a spoonful of a thick aromatic coconut cream called kumut. Served alongside nasi liwet is opor ayam (a delicate chicken in a mild white coconut milk based sauce scented with galangal and lime leaves), telur pindang (eggs boiled slowly with spices), tempeh and labu siam (chayote) as the vegetable. Traditionally, the pan used for cooking was made of clay. The taste and aroma is generally better if it is cooked on a wood fire, but different regions have different ways of preparing it. Traditionally, it is served on a banana leaf or teak leaf. Frequently, people prefer teak leaves to plates because of the natural fragrance of the leaf.
I find this dish particularly unique. We don’t eat them with plates; rather we use a banana leaf as the base. However, we don’t create a lot of mess when eating nasi liwet. The components inside are perfect enough to be covered by a banana leaf. The dish even smelled better because of the fragrance of the leaf. Morever, nasi liwet is so flavorful to an extent where it combines perfectly with any side dish — chicken, beef, egg, fish, or even the rice itself, anything that you can think of, is a perfect mixture. According to my mother’s culture, nasi liwet is usually eaten for breakfast, but also a popular choice for lunch or dinner. For me, personally, any time is right for this dish.
Green Chili Chicken Ayam Bumbu Sambal Hijau
Chicken with green sambal is exactly how it sounds like. The chicken is deep fried until well cooked and golden braun. The entire dish is covered in green chili. The green is so rich in color, creating this dish so mouthwatering. My mother often cooks chicken with green chili. She always says they are easy and fast to make, though she’s not wrong. The ones she made are always slightly saltier than the ones restaurants typically serve. Our family has always favored saltier dishes. The level of spiciness that she made is the same as how my grandma cooked her spicy dried beef — they are at a perfect amount. As a result, my brother became very fond of this dish. It is perhaps one of this favorite dishes from Padang.
I normally order chicken with green chili when I’m in the right mood. Some days this dish is just way too spicy to be eaten. I wouldn’t want to go to the bathroom right after I finish eating it. However, some days are perfect. Although they do tend to be spicier than red chili, the spiciness from green chili also creates the same adrenaline and excitement that I frequently talked about throughout this book. They are best eaten with rice, like every other dish in Indonesia. Besides the green chili, the chicken in this dish are often cut into small pieces. My mother typically cooks them with tiny chicken legs. Another fun family fact, chicken legs are also our favorite. So to prevent the family from fighting over our favorite part, she cooks them all with chicken legs. This is the perfect approach to keep everyone civil. Chicken with green chili are also preferred to be eaten by hand. They are a much easier and less time consuming method to eat this dish. Every Indonesians would always leave their chicken completely meatless.
Remember what I said about Javanese dishes being sweet? This dish strongly embodies that. Gudeg is a traditional Javanese cuisine from Yogyakarta and Central Java, Indonesia. It is made from young unripe jack fruit ( Javanese: gori, Indonesian: nangka muda) stewed for several hours with palm sugar, and coconut milk. Additional spices include garlic, shallot, candlenut, coriander seed, galangal, bay leaves, and teak leaves, the latter giving a reddish-brown color to the dish. It is often described as “green jack fruit sweet stew.” Served solely, gudeg can be considered as a vegetarian food, since it only consists of unripe jackfruit and coconut milk. However, gudeg is commonly served with egg or chicken. Gudeg is best combined with white steamed rice, chicken either as opor ayam (chicken in coconut milk) or ayam goreng (fried chicken), telur pindang, or just plain hard-boiled egg, tofu or tempeh, and sambel goreng krechek — a stew made of crisp beef skins. Gudeg is traditionally associated with Yogyakarta, and that is why Yogyakarta is often nicknamed “Kota Gudeg” (city of gudeg).
There are several types of gudeg; dry, wet, Yogyakarta style, Solo style and East Javanese style. My favorite is the dry one. Dry gudeg has only a bit of coconut milk and thus has little sauce. Wet gudeg includes more coconut milk. The most common gudeg comes from Yogyakarta, and is usually sweeter, drier and reddish in color because of the addition of teak leaves as coloring agent. Solo’s gudeg, from the city of Surakarta, is more watery. It contains a lot of coconut milk, and is whitish in color because teak leaves are generally not added. Yogyakarta’s gudeg is usually called “red gudeg”, while Solo’s gudeg is called “white gudeg”. The East-Javanese style of gudeg has a spicier and hotter taste compared to the Yogyakarta style gudeg, which is sweeter. I must admit I am not very fond with this dish. This is due to the fact that it is sweeter than most Javanese dishes.
Beef Kalio Kalio Dagiang
Beef kalio is practically the same dish as rendang (page 6), however this time process of slow-cooking is half done. This dish also has the same basic ingredients as rendang, namely coconut, finely ground red chilies, ginger, galangal, shallots, garlic, lime leaves, bay leaves, and turmeric leaves. Although this dish is typically with beef, it can also be served with chicken, boiled eggs, beef liver, or jering. My mother often cook beef kalio whenever she’s too tired to create rendang. It all lies in the duration of cooking.
Beef Kalio is so rich in spices. This is what my father always says about Padang cuisine. I strongly agree with him. Kalio can also be called a dry version of gulai or stewed beef or any meat in heavy coconut curry, but not yet caramelized like rendang. Kalio or gulai is one of the characteristic foods of Minangkabau and Sumatran culture, it is served at ceremonial occasions and to honour guest. Kalio can also be called a dry version of gulai or stewed beef or any meat in heavy coconut curry, but not yet caramelized like rendang. My mother often cooked this dish whenever she’s too tired to make rendang; however they do taste very similar.
1/2 kg of meat/chicken/egg/squid 3 cm of ginger 1 cm of turmeric 4 red onions 1 garlic 5 red chili peppers 2 red cayenne peppers 3 cm of galanga root 1/2 kg of coconut milk Kaffir lime leaves Turmeric leaves Lemongrass
Chicken Curry Opor Ayam
Opor ayam is a dish consisting of chicken cooked in coconut milk from Indonesia, especially from Central Java. The spices involved include galangal, lemongrass, cinnamon, tamarind juice, palm sugar, coriander, cumin, candlenut, garlic, shallot, and pepper. Opor ayam is also a popular dish for lebaran or Eid ul-Fitr, usually eaten with ketupat (a type of rice cake) and sambal goreng ati (beef liver in sambal). Our big family always serve them every year. Opor ayam is without a doubt one of my family’s favourite dishes from Java.
My mother would often cook this dish. Although Javanese food are known to be sweet, this chicken curry is exceptionally salty. Or it might be the way that my family cooks them. Our family also likes them cooked with more water, to make it close to a soup. We would also eat them with tofus and tempeh, which is a traditional soy product that originated from Indonesia.
Ingredients: 1 chicken 7 tofus 7 tempeh 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds 1 teaspoon of pepper 1 teaspoon of salt 6 red onions 2 garlic 2 cm of ginger 1 cm of galanga root
2 cm of turmeric 3 candlenuts 1 teaspoon of sugar 1 teaspoon of tamarind 1 coconut milk Bay leaves Lemograss
Pop Chicken Ayam Pop
Pop Chicken is one of the best Padang cuisine ever. Creating this dish is very simple. You fry the skinless chicken and eat it with sambal (red chili). The sambal for pop chicken is unique. The color is lighter than the typical red chili. It is slightly orange. People would mistaken them for really spicy, but they are secretly not spicy at all. One time I ate the chili only and many were surprised with how tolerant I was with the spiciness. What they don’t know is that they are not spicy.
This is also a very commin dish in our family. Every one enjoys them. They’re very easy to cook. It only takes a couple of minutes for the chicken to fry, and then you’re all set. The chicken that we always buy are called ayam kampung, which means kampong chicken in English. We choose that specific type of chicken because it’s often much healthier than the ones sold at the supermarket. My mother always explains that they are don’t contain injection of hormones. However, making the chili, in fact, takes a longer time. They need to be blended and then cooked at the frying pan, and add salt for final touches.
2 Kampong chicken (legs) 2 Kampong chicken (wings) 1 garlic 5 red onions 5 red chili peppers 1 teaspoon of salt Cooking oil Vinegar
Afterword from my mother: Javanese cuisine is rich with sweetness because almost every dishes use sugar, palm sugar, or gula Jawa ( Javanese sugar). They use so many spices such as bay leaves, cinnamon and clove leaves.The vegetables must also be cooked, for example pecel. Even the chili must be given sugar to make it less spicy â&#x20AC;&#x201D; still flavorful but sweeter. For East Java there is a distinctive spice called kluwek (It is used in rawon so that the color of the sauce becomes black) and some use petis udang (cooked shrimp) for their type of gado-gado.
Masakan Jawa lebih kental dengan rasa manis karena semuanya hampir memakai gula pasir, gula aren, atau gula Jawa. Mereka sangat banyak memakai rempah-rempah seperti daun salam, daun sereh, kayu manis, dan cengkeh. Sayurannyapun harus dimasak, contohnya pecel. Sambalpun juga dikasih gula sehingga tidak pedas, tetao kerasa namun lebih manis. Kalau Jawa Timur ada bumbu yg khas yaitu kluwek (Digunakan dalam rawon sehingga warna kuah menjadi hitam) dan ada yang memakai bumbu petis (udang dimasak) untuk jenis gado-gadonya.
Makanan Padang adalah makanan kebanyakan rasa. Banyak menggunakan bumbu dan rempah rempah. Di dominasi oleh cabe, kunyit, jahe, sereh, bawang merah dan Santan kelapa. Proses memasaknya juga membutuhkan waktu yg panjang karena kebanyakan slow cooking. Masakan padang banyak menginspirasi masakan-masakan daerah lain, seperti masakan Medan dan Melayu (Medan dan Melayu lebih kurang bumbu). Restoran Padang tersebar di seluruh pelosok Indonesia karena sangat digemari. Warna masakan Padang didominasi oleh warna merah karena banyaknya cabe yang dipakai. Tapi khusus untuk makanan Padang yang paling terkenal, yaitu Rendang, warnanya hitam. Warna hitam ini karena proses karamelisasi santan kelapa, akibat dimasak sampai lama sekali dan santan menjadi kering.
Afterword from my father: Padang food is a cuisine with too many flavors. Many dishes use herbs and spices. They are very much dominated by chili, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, red onion and coconut milk. The cooking process also takes a long time because most of them involve slow-cooking. Padang cuisine inspires many other regional cuisines, such as Medan and Malay cuisine, however they have much less spices. Padang restaurants are spread all over Indonesia because they are very loved and favored by the people. The color of Padang cuisine is dominated by red because of the many chili used in the ingredient. However, specifically, for Padangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most ordinary food, rendang, the color is black. This black color is due to the process of caramelizing coconut milk, which is cooked for a really long time until the coconut becomes dry.