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Parahyangan Food: Bandung, West Java

No, I am not talking about Bali, but about Parahiyangan (para means several,hiyang, god) as the Sundanese highlands are called. The highland Sundanese treat their environment with care and respect. Their diet largely consists of local produce: high quality rice, fruit and vegetables. Over the course of time, the West Java capital, Bandung, has flourished, serving its guests nutritious food, with a good variety of freshwater fish and raw, crispy vegetables.

Though I often travel throughout the archipelago, I had not visited Bandung for more than 10 years before my recent trip as Indonesia’s top epicurean and gastronome, Suryatini N. Ganie, explains.

I was, therefore, astonished by the appearance of the city with its multistory buildings and cavernous malls.

However, Bandung residents continue to use tried-and-true recipes like ayam goreng Bandung (Bandung fried chicken) or serabi Bandung (rice flour pancakes).

The pepes ikan (grilled freshwater fish wrapped in banana leaves) that is served at simple eateries is delicious, and the sambal to dip the crudites or lalap in is simply superb.

What impressed me most was the aroma of the rice they tightly pack in banana leaves, called nasi timbel. My auntie by marriage, a true Bandung lady, says you can get nasi timbel in other places but the aroma is not as mouthwatering, and such is also the case with soto Bandung, a soupy dish with slices of ox-tripe.

But savory munchies like Bandung’s famous shrimp-filled tofu batagor and crispy fried tempeh or oncom goreng are perennial favorites among the young, and worth tasting, especially when hot.

Follow the Cipularang (Cikampek, Purwakarta, Padalarang) turnpike and you can’t miss Bandung, Parahyangan.