Tra­di­tional East Java Snacks

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS -

Just like any other coun­try, In­done­sia has a won­der­ful se­lec­tion of tra­di­tional snacks which are close to the hearts of lo­cals. The snacks to be found in the many re­gions of In­done­sia vary wildly, but in this ar­ti­cle we will fo­cus on ten unique tra­di­tional snacks that can be found in East Java. As a re­sult of in­trare­gional mi­gra­tion, you may be able to find some of these snacks out­side East Java, so do give them a taste test if you hap­pen to chance upon them.


Also re­ferred to as the “red tor­toise cake”, kue tok is a type of tra­di­tional In­done­sian sweet. As the name sug­gests, it has a red, oval-shaped, soft and sticky gluti­nous rice flour skin and has a sweet fill­ing in­side. It is quite sim­i­lar to the Ja­panese mochi.


Known for be­ing wrapped in ba­nana leaves, this snack can eas­ily be found in many places in In­done­sia. It con­sists of shred­ded meat (of­ten chicken) wrapped in gluti­nous sticky rice, hence mak­ing it the per­fect on-the-go meal. Lemper is very sim­i­lar to bak­cang (Chi­nese zongzi) and re­sem­bles Ja­panese oni­giri which also con­tains meat wrapped in rice.


Apem is a tra­di­tional snack made from rice flour by mix­ing eggs, co­conut milk, sugar, salt, tape (fer­mented cas­sava) and then grilled or steamed. Shaped like a pan­cake but thicker, apem is gen­er­ally made for

tahlilan (a prayer cer­e­mony held on the death of a fam­ily mem­ber) or megen­gan day

(an Is­lamic event usu­ally be­fore Idul fitri).

It is soft, spongy and def­i­nitely ad­dic­tive. It is more fra­grant and tasty if sprin­kled with chopped jack­fruit or pan­dan leaves.


This is a rolled, thin layer of bright green­coloured pan­cake made of pan­dan leaves with fill­ings of grated co­conut and palm sugar. The pan­dan leaves give it its aro­matic fra­grance and beau­ti­ful colour. This snack is usu­ally found on street stalls and in tra­di­tional mar­kets.


These cakes are made with the ba­sic in­gre­di­ent of gluti­nous rice. The name wajik comes from the di­a­mond-like shape and ke­tan means gluti­nous rice. These gluti­nous di­a­monds are gen­er­ally made with brown sugar to give the clas­sic dark brown colour. It’s a snack which is dif­fi­cult to find in cities, but if you are lucky, you can find it in the tra­di­tional mar­ket or oc­ca­sion­ally on street stalls.


This is a tra­di­tional street snack which comes from Mo­jok­erto. It is made from fried or boiled wheat flour or gluti­nous starch.

It is chewy, crispy, and sphere-shaped. The sur­face is usu­ally coated with white sesame seeds. The most com­mon onde-onde is made of gluti­nous flour with mung bean paste fill­ing in­side. With a va­ri­ety of fill­ings, colours and types, onde-onde is a clas­sic In­done­sian snack.


Avail­able in a va­ri­ety of colours from brown, all the way to pink, this sponge-like cake needs roughly 14 in­gre­di­ents. It is slightly rough in tex­ture. Its dough is made of a mix­ture of flour, rice flour and tapi­oca, yeast, egg, co­conut milk, sugar and salt.

The tra­di­tional kue mangkok is slightly brown due to the use of palm sugar. Other tra­di­tional vari­ants use fer­mented cas­sava or sweet potato. Kue mangkok is usu­ally served with grated co­conut on top.


This is a grilled cake made from young co­conut, gluti­nous rice flour and sugar. It has a round, flat shape with a semi-burnt sur­face. Orig­i­nat­ing from the city of Ba­bat, this snack plays a vi­tal role in the econ­omy of the re­gion.


Some­times called kue pisang ( ba­nana cake), nagasari is a tra­di­tional steamed cake made of co­conut milk, rice flour, and sugar, which is then used to make a sort of bat­ter to wrap the ba­nanas. This is one of the snacks which are com­monly sold as ja­jan pasar mean­ing snacks found in tra­di­tional mar­kets. Nagasari has a pud­ding-like tex­ture.

Though it’s not as “jig­gly” as jello, it is soft and some­what bouncy.


A tra­di­tional snack with colour­ful lay­ers of soft rice pud­ding. In In­done­sian, the word lapis means lay­ers. This steamed lay­ered cake or pud­ding is quite pop­u­lar in In­done­sia, and can also be found in the Nether­lands due to the colo­nial links. Kue Lapis is also very pop­u­lar in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, and Brunei, where it’s called kuih lapis. It’s de­li­cious, sweet, spongy and a bit sticky.

Dy­ing to try these tra­di­tional East Java snacks yet? Visit your near­est tra­di­tional mar­ket to see if you can find some of them. Don’t for­get to bring along a bot­tle of plain wa­ter as most of these snacks are very sweet!

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