Jambi is a city with rich history and culture. As any other cultural cities in the world, Jambi indeed has unique culinary to offer. Going around the city of Jambi to discover its wonderful attractions would feel more amazing if you also discover its local taste. So if you have the chance to visit this city, make sure to taste some of these foods and beverages:
Literally, Nasi Gemuk means “Fat Rice”. It is indeed fatty as it contains coconut milk on it. The dish is made of rice steamed with coconut milk, pandan leaf, bay leaf, lime leaf, and some spices such as shallot, pepper, garlic, and coriander. The dish is very similar to Nasi Uduk from Jakarta or Nasi Lemak from Malaysia. Basically those all are the same foods. It is only the side dishes to be served with that differ one from the other.
A serving of Nasi Gemuk in Jambi includes the steamed rice itself along with side dishes such as boiled egg, peanuts, fried small fishes, sliced raw cucumber, sambal (chili paste), kerupuk (chips), and fried shallot sprinkles on top of the serving. Sometimes, Nasi Gemuk is served with other traditional dish from Jambi such as Gulai. Nasi Gemuk is a favorite breakfast menu in Jambi as it has soft savory taste and is effective to boost your mood to kick start the day. So if you wish to taste this food, make sure to go hunting it in the morning.
As simple as its name, Jus Pinang (Juice of Betel Nut) is a smoothies made from betel nut. It may sound strange to you, but in Jambi, it is very common. In fact, Jus Pinang is pretty popular as a beverage. To make a glass of Jus Pinang, you need to blend the betel nut along with brown sugar, red ginger, pandan leaf, lemongrass, clove, and cinnamon. Sometimes, people also add a raw chicken egg on it to make it more nutritious. For some people, it would also make the beverages tastier while some other would have totally different opinion about it.
Besides it taste delicious, people in Jambi also believes that this juicy drink has plenty healthy benefits. They believe it could smoothen up your blood circulation, increasing your immunity, boost your stamina, and reduce gas on your stomach. Jus Pinang is a favorite beverage to drink with Nasi Gemuk. It is pretty common to the restaurants or food stands that sell Nasi Gemuk to also sell Jus Pinang.
Tempoyak is an ingredients made from Durian fruit, a unique tropical fruit with strong aroma and taste that could only grow on several places in South East Asia. To make tempoyak, you need to take the meat out of the seed. The durian meet is then mixed with salt and chili as flavoring. After that, you need to put it on a jar and close it tightly. Let it be for several days. A fermentation process will occur and change the taste and aroma of the durian. As a result, it will get sour and stronger in taste and aroma. The texture is still as mushy as raw durian.
There are many ways to eat Tempoyak. You can simply eat it without any more process or spices, but it is rather uncommon as the taste would be too strong to be eaten plainly. The most favorite Tempoyak dish is by making a fish curry with it. You could also mixed Tempoyak with more chili and spices to make sambal. This dish is then called Sambal Tempoyak. For simpler yet enjoyable way, you can simply fry it and eat it with warm steamed rice.
Gulai Tepek Ikan
Gulai is a traditional Sumatran dish which is similar to curry. The dish is rather yellow and has thick sauce made from coconut milk and various spices. There are many variants of Gulai, depending on where it is from. In the city of Jambi, the most popular variant of Gulai is Gulai Tepek Ikan. The dish uses snakehead fish or wahoo fish as its main ingredients.
To make this dish, the snakehead fish is mashed and mixed with sago flour until it became dough. The dough is then shaped and steamed. As a result, it will look like a fish cake. This is what they call as “Tepek Ikan”. After that, you just need to cook Gulai with it.
Gulai Tepek Ikan has a brief historical value. During the era of Jambi Sultanate and before, the dish is cooked and served only on special occasions such as wedding, sacred ceremonies, etc. But now as the era became modern, people could casually cook and eat it on ordinary days. Gulai Tepek Ikan could also be served along with Nasi Gemuk.
Mie Celor Jambi
Mie Celor Jambi is a savory noodle soup dish traditionally from Jambi. A serving of it consists of noodles, several slices of fried beef or chicken, hard-boiled egg, fried shallot sprinkles, celery, beansprout, scallion, and light gravy. The name “celor” is taken from the cooking method used to process the noodle. It is similar to blanching; a method to shower an ingredient with hot boiled water to soften it.
The noodle used form this dish is unique. It is yellow, round, and rather bigger in diameter than regular noodles in Indonesia. Mostly, the noodle is hand made. The gravy is unique as well. It has a rather thick texture and savory taste. The gravy is made of coconut milk with broth of dried shrimp. Mie Celor Jambi usually is served along with several extra condiments such as sambal (chili paste) and soy sauce.
Sup Tulang (Bone Soup) is a soup dish made with cow bone as its main ingredient. The dish consists of large cut of cow bone, clear beef broth, scallion, fried shallot sprinkles, and some vegetables. Sup Tulang could also use the bone and meat from lamb or buffalo.
The bone used for this dish is usually taken from the leg. It still has some remains of meat on it. Inside the bone, there are still bone marrows that will taste delicious after cooked. To cook Sup Tulang, the bone needs to be boiled for 4 to 5 hours to extract the stock and absorb the spices. This slow cooking process would also cause the meat to have tenderer texture and the marrow to be soft.
To complement the soup, several extra condiments are usually served along. Those are warm steamed rice, sambal (chili paste), soy sauce, kerupuk (chips), and lalapan (raw vegetables). You can also eat it with other side dishes such as fried tempeh or grilled bone.
Jambi culinary indeed sounds delicious and unique as most of the menus wouldn’t be available on other places. But you would know it for sure when you have really tasted it. So make sure to not miss this experience while you are in the city. We hope you all have a good culinary tourism in the city of Jambi.