Pepper: The King of Spices

By Indonesia Gastronomy Network

in association with Negeri Rempah Foundation

Pepper in Basket (2019-06-30/2019-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

The word 'pepper' (English) comes from Sanskrit, 'pippali' which means berry. Pepper comes from the coast of Malabar, South India. Pepper is an important commodity that has been bought and sold for thousands of years.

Peppercorns (2019-06-30/2019-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Pepper has a really long journey in Indonesian history.

Arab and Indian traders brought pepper to Indonesia. The existence of pepper is also because of Hindus who migrated from India to Indonesia as early as 100 BC.

Maleis koopman en een Keling met zijn vrouw te Bantam, 1596 (1597 - 1598) by anoniemRijksmuseum

There was also an exchange of culture and knowledge.

These trades with Arab, India, China, Persia and others were later known as the Spice Route.

In the early 17th century, the Dutch came to Indonesia and controlled strategic locations of pepper cultivations, which became economic income for the Kingdom of Bantam (Banten).

Pepper Plantation (2019-06-30/2019-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Muntok pepper is very well known to foreign countries.

More than half of the world's supply of pepper is coming from Indonesia.

Muntok, located in Bangka Belitung province is the source of white (and black) pepper production, while Lampung is the center for white pepper production.

Pepper Farmer (2019-06-30/2019-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Desa Kacang Butor is one of the pepper producing villages.

Around 90% of farmers depend on pepper for their livelihood. This planting tradition has been carried out from generation to generation by the majority of Belitong residents.

Pepper Farmer with Bundong, Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation), 2019-06-30/2019-06-30, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
Show lessRead more

  The process of picking the pepper is done by hand, not with tools. Pepper is plucked when the skin is dark green or bright red. The farmers use ‘caping’ (traditional hat), then put the plucked pepper into the ‘bundong’ (basket) which is also a woven product of the local community.

Soaked Pepper (2019-06-30/2019-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

They are soaked for 1-2 weeks until the skins are shed.

The water turn greenish and an unpleasant smell appeared from this pool. However, it becomes easier to separate the seed and the skin.  

Dried Pepper (2019-06-30/2019-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

After that, the peppers are dried with the help of the sun.

In comparison, from 100 kilograms of pepper, it can be processed to become 25 kilograms of white pepper after the soaking process.  

White Pepper (2015-10-30/2015-10-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Green and black peppers have sharper aroma than white ones.

In terms of taste, black pepper is stronger and spicier. The spicy taste in pepper is produced by the piperine substance contained in it.  

Bedulang Tradition (2019-07-01/2019-07-01) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

In Belitong, Bedulang is generally served during Maras Taun (harvest feasts) and weddings. One set is generally served for 4 people with 6 types of dishes inside a beautiful serving hood.

Bedulang Food (2019-07-01/2019-07-01) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

The food served has been influenced by various cultures.

The influences, inculding Chinese, Arabic, Palembangnese and Javanese.

Belitong people are proven to be good at processing spices, including pepper. Gangan (cooked fish or meat with yellow broth) is positioned in the middle.

Angeun Lada (2018-06-30/2018-06-30) by Cahyadi Putra (Negeri Rempah Foundation)Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Pepper essential oil helps smoothening the digestive tract.

The smoothing process is important when consuming processed meats and high protein foods.

Pepper can treat stomach pain, fever, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, toothache, and asthma.  

Credits: Story

Text:
Cahyadi Putra
 
Image and Design:
Cahyadi Putra (layouter and photographer)
 
This exhibition is part of Indonesia Gastronomy Network, in association with Google Arts & Culture and Negeri Rempah Foundation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Spice Up The World
Learn the 1,000-year history of Indonesia's spices, meet the makers and see the unique dishes
View theme
Google apps