Rijsttafel’s History in Indonesia and The Netherlands

Food Chronicles

Origins and Today’s Popularity

When researching what to eat in Bali, you will undoubtedly come across the name, “Rijsttafel.” Is this Indonesian? What are the origins? Where can you find this epic meal? Let me answer your questions:

Origins of Rijsttafel

Indonesian cuisine gains influence from its history of colonizers and explorers, namely the Dutch, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, and British. The Dutch imprinted the most significance with its presence in Indonesia from 1602 to 1945, almost 350 years.

As such, the name “Rijsttafel” is a Dutch word meaning, “rice table.” Dutch plantation owners in Indonesia invented the meal because of their desire to sample a wide array of Indonesian dishes all at once. The local dishes, all accompanied with rice, feature specialties from the whole archipelago – Bali, Java, Sumatra, etc.

Around 40 dishes were traditionally served on a long table for a formal family meal. Rijsttafel was meant as a feast on the table with the wide array of dishes enjoyed all at once. It was also meant for Dutch colonizers to show off to their visitors the exotic abundance of their foreign colony.

 

Rijsttafel’s Presence and Popularity Today

Today, the rijsttafel meal remains popular in both Indonesia and The Netherlands. In fact, it is actually more sought after in The Netherlands and Amsterdam than in Indonesia where it is mainly served to tourists in restaurants and hotels. In Indonesia, everyday locals eat simply with rice plates (for instance, nasi goreng), rather than a feast of the rice table.

 

Rijsttafel at Bejana at The Ritz Carlton, Bali

Resorts and Hotels in Bali with an in-house Indonesian restaurant will likely feature the Rijsttafel feast on their menus. At Bejana at The Ritz Carlton, Bali, the Rijstaffel feast serves 10 generously plated portions for 2 people (though it can really fill up a table of 4 persons, or even more).

The meal is an excellent introduction to a variety of Indonesian cuisine. Be prepared to be more than full at the end – in fact, maybe wear loose pants so your waist has room to grow during the meal.

The cliff top setting and view from Bejana at The Ritz Carlton, Bali. You can dine inside or outside with this epic panoramic view of the Indian Ocean and the sound of the waves. The pleasant weather in Bali allows you to comfortably enjoy al fresco dining both day and night
Local crisps and dips. Before the epic meal even comes out, you are treated to local crisps of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rempeyek (fried rice flour with nuts) accompanied with spicy, sweet, sour, and savory dips
The first set of courses: Asinan Jakarta in front (pickled seasonal fruit, Gado Gado to the left (Sundanese salad of mixed vegetables, tofu, bean curd, egg, spiced peanut dressing, and melinjo crackers), and Soto Pesmol Sari Laut in the middle (Betawi spiced coconut soup with seafood)
Then the main courses, from the left clockwise: Sate Lilit Ikan (Balinese minced tuna skewers with sticky rice and sate sauce), Yellow rice, Sambal Udang (Kalimantan style king prawns with tomato-chili relish), Ikan Woku (North Sulawesi spiced barramundi, red bean parcel, and lemon basil), Rendang Daging (Sumatran style braised beef with spiced coconut milk), Plecing Kangkung (Balinese sautéed water spinach with sambal ulek), Ayam Bakar Taliwang (Lombok style grilled spring chicken, chili, and lime)
When the dishes come out and presented to your table, the server explains each dish as he or she serves your first plate. If these plates do not fill you up, you can ask for more servings of your favorite dishes
Finally, dessert: Kue Bali, a selection of traditional Balinese sweets which are coconut based including Dadar Gulung, Klepon, Lak Lak, Lapis, Wajik, Talam Jagung, Tape Ubi Goreng. The little bites are just right to conclude the filling feast

 

Watch my video below featuring my Rijsttafel dinner at Bejana. And subscribe to my channel for my latest travel vlogs!

 

Address & Booking Info

Bejana
The Ritz Carlton, Bali
Jalan Raya Nusa Dua Selatan Lot III Sawangan
Nusa Dua, Bali
+62-361-849-8988
Tuesday to Sunday, 6pm to 11pm

Book your stay at The Ritz Carlton, Bali via:
Agoda
Booking.com
Hotels.com
TripAdvisor

 


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