Sweet Traditions


Culinary Delights From Across the Archipelago

Nothing is more fantastic than sweet delicacies enjoyed with loved ones during this memorable time of the year.

Words by Vikaria Lestari, Photography by Helen Yuanita

Christmas is just around the corner. Most people around the world celebrate the holiday with families and loved ones over sumptuous dishes. Sweet treats and special desserts are part of the tradition, and each country has its own delicious specialities, some of which are popularly known across the globe.

Here in Indonesia, Manado, North Sulawesi, is well known for its delicious cuisine. During the holiday season, people in Manado prepare different pastries to serve visiting friends and relatives. A favourite delicacy in the region is called biji-biji. Almost every house has a jar of biji-biji on the coffee table.

For native Jakartans, the snack is known as biji ketapang. Biji-biji is made of wheat flour, sugar, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla flavouring, combined into a dough, sliced, and fried for a sweet and crunchy snack.

To conclude a nice dinner, klapertaart is the perfect option; the name comes from the combination of the words kelapa (coconut) and taart. Best eaten cold, the Dutch-influenced Indonesian cake is made of flour, sugar, milk, butter, raisins, coconut flesh, and juice. With a sprinkle of pili nuts and a hint of cinnamon, this tasty, meltin- the-mouth dessert is something you shouldn’t miss.

For a memorable breakfast on Christmas morning, people in Ambon savour poporcis, another Dutch-influenced cake. Similar to poffertjes (mini pancakes), the Indonesian version of the Dutch treat features pumpkin, to create a beautiful yellow colour, and sprinkled sugar on top. Another Dutch-influenced favourite that is normally prepared during Christmas is called bruder. The Indonesian version, broeder (bread cake), uses sageru, the juice of sugar palm trees, which is plentiful in Ambon. With the addition of sageru, bruder tastes even more delicious.

To Enjoy with Coffee

Toraja, South Sulawesi is known for its arabica coffee. Deppa tori, Toraja’s delicacy, is best enjoyed with a cup of the local brew. The finger-size snack is made of simple ingredients such as rice flour, palm sugar and a sprinkle of sesame on top. However, those ingredients combine to create a luscious delicacy that is crunchy on the outside yet soft inside. One piece of deppa tori is never enough.

In East Nusa Tenggara, kue cucur is a favourite snack, especially during the holiday season. The soft, sweet flavour of kue cucur comes from rice flour, palm sugar, eggs and pandanus leaves. Although the cake is simple to make, its taste is supremely delicious, especially with a cup of Flores coffee.

Shaped like a pyramid and wrapped in banana leaves, lapet from Medan, North Sumatra, is normally served during big holidays or traditional ceremonies. Made of rice flour, and stuffed with palm sugar and grated coconut, lapet is best enjoyed warm. The sweet flavour of lapet will combine deliciously with a cup of strong, non-sugared North Sumatra coffee. Sweet delicacies and sumptuous dishes enjoyed among the warmth of family and friends are some of the most wonderful things about Christmas. Try to make some of those delicacies at home while enjoying your holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2020!



Vikaria Lestari

Javanese by birth, is a writer and translator whose passions are travelling, food and reading. Her hobby, amongst others, is observing the unique characteristics of different cuisines and places, which she shares later in her writing. Her published works include translated novels written by bestselling American authors, as well as travel and lifestyle articles.