Nasi Tumpeng is traditional celebration dish that usually served during special events or celebrations.

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© 2016 Liza W. Widjaja

August 17th marks the anniversary of Indonesia’s Declaration of Independence from the Netherlands in 1945. This event is celebrated across the country with the raising of the red and white national flag. It call the “Sang Saka Merah Putih” and the singing of the national anthem”Indonesia Raya”. Most of the time the communities come together to take part in competitions, games and parades.

Here in Tennessee the Indonesian communities get together last Saturday to celebrate  Indonesian 71st Independence Day. We had Potluck gathering. This time I made Nasi Tumpeng ( yellow rice) and Jajan Pasar( assorted colorful of Indonesian traditional cakes).

We had some Indonesian traditional games and competition. The competition we had this time include sack race( balap karung), the cracker eating contest (lomba makan krupuk) and also three-legged race. Anticipated by kids and adult.

In the sack race each participant gets a waist-high gunny sack that they step inside. Then they race in whatever they can to reach the finish line.  The cracker eating contest the  participant standing in a line with their hands tied behind their backs. the participant race to eat huge cracker that dangle from a string just above mouth level. Whichever participant finishes eating cracker fastest will be named the winner

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© 2016 Liza W. Widjaja

Tradition and History

 This iconic dish is loved by generations within the Indonesian  cultures. This cone-shaped rice dish like mountain served  with assorted of Indonesian dishes. The cone shape of rice is made by using cone-shaped woven bamboo container, but if you don’t have any you can do it without.

The rice itself is yellow rice ( rice cooked in coconut milk with Turmeric and spices).

Tumpeng is a symbol of gratitude, in gratitude ceremony, syukuran or slametan. After the people prayer the top of the Tumpeng is cut and delivered to the most important person. It could be the oldest person, beloved one or the honoured guest. Then all people enjoy the tumpeng together. With tumpeng people express the gratitude to God and appreciate togetherness and harmony. An annual ceremony involving Tumpeng is commonly called Tumpengan.

The Philosophical of Nasi Tumpeng

There is a philosophical meaning on every part of traditional Tumpeng. According to a folklore that spread in Java and Bali, the cone – shaped tumpeng is a mystic symbol of life and it also symbolizes of the glory of God as the creator of the nature. Various side dishes and vegetables represent the life and harmony of the nature.

The authentic and complete Tumpeng dishes should contains at least one animal meat to represent a land animal, fish to represent sea creatures, and egg to represent winged beast, the vegetables represent a food stock that provided by the plant kingdom

Most Nasi Tumpeng served on tampah (rounded woven bamboo container) covered with banana leaf and surrounded with assorted of Indonesian dishes. Traditionally there should be a balance between vegetables, egg, meat and seafood. The composition of a traditional Javanese Tumpeng is more complex because the elements must balance one another according to the Javanese belief.

The surroundings dishes served with Nasi Tumpeng

Traditional Javanese tumpeng usually involves urap vegetables, tempeh, ayam goreng(fried chicken), ayam bakar(grilled chicken),teri kacang(anchovy with peanuts), fried shrimps, telur pindang( boiled marble egg), empal gepuk(sweet spicy ried beef), shredded omelette, tempe orek( sweet and fry dried tempeh), perkedel kentang( mashed potato fritters), sambal goreng ati( liver in chili sauce) and many other things. Today the dishes which accompany tumpeng can be of the host discretion, it can be vegetarian to tradition Indonesian cakes.

Today Tradition

Today, most of Indonesian serving Tumpeng as a special dish to celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday, wedding, anniversary, family gathering, farewell party and many others events.

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© 2016 Liza W. Widjaja

This time I made  Nasi Tumpeng accompany with Serundeng, tempe teri kacang( spicy anchovy, tempe and peanuts), ayam pukang, and sambal bajak( chili sauce)

Serundeng is an Indonesian spicy fried coconut lakes, which is made of sauted grated coconut mix with spice. Usually serve as a side dish to accompany rice or sticky rice.

Ayam Pukang is Grilled chicken cooked in coconut milk and spices.


© 2016 Liza W. Widjaja


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