sago, a favorite eastern Indonesian food

A sago tree carved in the reliefs of Borobudur Temple in Central Java, which was built in the 8th century. Meanwhile, at Candi Jago, East Java, which was built in the 13th century, there is a palm tree relief on the edge of a stream. “In Java, sago is mostly obtained from palm trees,” wrote Ahmad Arif in Sago Papua for the World.

Sago Tree History

In Sumatra, sago has been present since the time of the Srivijaya Kingdom. At that time, sago became an important food source that supported the needs of the kingdom’s food sources. The Talang Tuo inscription from the 7th century mentions Sri Jayanasa’s intention to build Sri Ksetra Park, which is planted with various trees, including sago as a food crop.

  • sago, a favorite eastern Indonesian food
  • sago, a favorite eastern Indonesian food
  • sago, a favorite eastern Indonesian food
  • sago, a favorite eastern Indonesian food

The existence of sago was also recorded by Marco Polo, a 13th century Italian explorer, during his visits to Lamuri and Fansur. He described in detail how sago as a food ingredient is processed into a kind of cake that is consumed by local people. Marco Polo also tasted the flavors of several types of cakes from the sago. He even brought some cake samples
back to Venice.

“This report on sago is very interesting because in the future this food ingredient is no longer commonly consumed in Sumatra than in the eastern islands,” wrote Fadly Rahman in Jejak Rasa Nusantara.

In historical records, rice has not become the main food ingredient for most of the population of the archipelago at least until the first half of the 19th century. Eating rice became even more important after the massive expansion of rice fields. Rice is the preferred crop because it can grow well. Policies that focus on cultivation
Rice has also changed the habits of people who originally had a variety of staple foods to switch to rice.

Sago Today

Now, sago is a staple food for people living in Eastern Indonesia, especially Maluku, Papua, and even Nusa Tenggara. That number is also decreasing.

Sago is derived from flour obtained from the trunk of a sago tree (Metroxylon sp.) which is shaped like a palm tree. Generally, sago palms grow on the banks of rivers or areas with high water content such as swamps. Sago trees can grow up to 30 meters and from one tree, sago farmers can produce 150-300 kilograms of raw material for sago flour.

Usually sago is processed into papeda, a typical food of Maluku and Papua. In South Sulawesi, this plain sago porridge is called lime. This food has a texture like glue and is more delicious served with fish sauce. The sauce is a mix of sour, spicy and savory. While the lime dish, which is better known in the Luwu area, South Sulawesi, is usually mixed with various kinds of vegetables to shredded chicken and fish.

To make papeda, residents mix sago flour with water and stir it until it is bati (like a rope/not easily broken), and has a grayish color.

“Some say that papeda is food for communication. Because since the processing of sago trees to cooking and eating it is always done together by many people. This is togetherness in the frame of brotherhood that is the distinctive character of Indonesians,” explained Redite.

Sago Specials

Another dish that comes from sago is the sago plate, a pastry that is enjoyed after being dipped in hot tea, coffee, and fish sauce. There is also a variant, namely the sago plate of brown sugar. In addition, there is a type of grilled sago meal, where the sago flour is heated until it comes together and is shaped like bread. This food is usually enjoyed as an afternoon snack or breakfast with a complement of hot tea or coffee. In Maluku, sago is also used as a basic ingredient for sinole and Tutupola.

Many foods that can be produced from processed sago are filling and healthy. Sago has a fairly high carbohydrate content, but low in sugar and fat.
This potential of sago should be used as a staple food reserve if one day the rice supply runs low.*

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