Cooking the Indonesian Way
"Indonesia, a series of islands that lie in the path of countless ancient trade routes, has long reaped the rewards of its location. Over the centuries, traders from distant lands brought new religions, traditions, and recipes to the islands. The first inhabitants of Indonesia came from the Southeast Asian mainland in 2000 B.C. These people, called the Malay, introduced rice and stir-frying, a method of cooking vegetables and meats in a bowl-shaped pan called a wok. Hundreds of years later, missionaries and merchants from India traveled to the islands of Java and Sumatra. They brought Hinduism and Buddhism along with the curry cooking tradition and turmeric, a favorite East Indian spice. Arab traders, who introduced the religion of Islam to the islands, also brought recipes for kabobs and mutton (sheep) dishes. The Europeans, mainly the Portuguese and the Dutch, contributed vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. In return, traders took spices native to Indonesia, such as nutmeg, pepper, mace, and cloves, back to their own countries."