Gudeg The Sweet Jackfruit Stew of Yogyakarta – Yogyakarta, the cultural heartland of Java, is not only famous for its keraton or royal palace and well preserved Javanese traditions that highlight the people’s daily life, but also its distinct culinary scene. If there is one dish that truly distinguishes Yogyakarta and everything it stands for, it would be none other than: Gudeg.
Although also found in several other cities in Central Java, Gudeg is the primadonna of Yogyakarta’s cuisine, and in a way an icon of the city.
The main ingredient of Gudeg is young unripe jackfruit, known locally as gori. In the process, the shredded young jackfruits are boiled with palm sugar and coconut milk over low heat for several hours. It tastes best when cooked in an earthen pot over a wooden or charcoal fire. Garlic, shallot, candlenut, coriander seed, galangal, bay leaves, then teak leaves are added to the mix which gives the reddish brown color to the dish. Dominated by the sweet taste, Gudeg is, therefore, often described as the “young jack fruit sweet stew”.
Gudeg is the perfect example of Javanese slow and thorough cooking
In contrast to the western “fast food”, Gudeg is the perfect example of Javanese slow and thorough cooking. The process of making this traditional jackfruit stew can be tiring and tedious. Almost every part of the process is time consuming, and must be done with precision. Therefore, creating the perfect Gudeg can take almost a full day. In a way, it is a perfect reflection of Javanese philosophy of calmness, patience, and meticulousness, as opposed to rushing and recklessness.
Just like most Indonesian food, Gudeg is served with rice. Other mandatory side dishes that are usually served with Gudeg include: sambel goreng krecek (crisp beef skins fried with chilli and peanuts), opor ayam (a sort of chicken curry drenched in coconut milk), Telur Pindang (seasoned boiled egg), and tahu or tempe bacem (sweet steamed tofu or soybean cake).
Two types of Gudeg: the Wet Gudeg and Dry Gudeg
Generally, there are two types of Gudeg: the Wet Gudeg and Dry Gudeg. The wet Gudeg has more coconut milk sauce which resembles gravy. On the other hand, the dry Gudeg has a deep brownish color and caramelized young jackfruit which gives it a sweeter taste. The dry Gudeg, also takes longer to cook since it needs to drain the coconut milk, so that it will also last longer (24 hours when stored in a fridge). There is also another variant of Gudeg which is called Gudeg Manggar. Instead of young unripe jackfruit, Gudeg Manggar uses coconut flower which is locally known as Manggar.
Another version comes from the neighboring city of Solo which is more soupy, since it is added with lots of coconut milk and is whitish in color because teak leaves are generally not added.
Popular place for Gudeg is at Wijilan and Barek.
Gudeg can be found in almost every part of Yogyakarta; however the most popular place for Gudeg is at Wijilan and Barek. Wijilan is
located not too far from the royal palace of Yogyakarta and can be reached by becak trishaw or a 10 minutes’ walk from here. There are over 17 restaurants in this area that sell gudeg with their own distinct taste and touch. The other Gudeg center, Barek, is located on the north side of Yogyakarta near the Gadjah Mada University. Here, there are also many restaurants and street-side tents offering this legendary dish.