Cookbooks

Sri Owen’s detailed book – Indonesian Regional Cooking

Sri Owen – Introduction

Sri Owen’s Indonesian Regional Cooking is widely regarded as a classic book on regional Indonesian food.

The author of highly-regarded The Rice Book, she is also an expert on regional Indonesian cooking – which is no easy task considering the myriad influences from both nearby Malaysia and from the west that combine to make this such an interesting array of cuisines. This book is an important survey of the variety of cooking styles that contribute to the cuisine of this vast archipelago.

Sri Owen was born in West Sumatra just before the Second World War when the Dutch still had a vicelike grip on the region. Her family moved to Java when the Japanese invaded and then to Yogyakarta when the war ended.

Sri Owen worked at a local university where she met her future English husband and she returned to England with him where she got a job with the BBC Indonesian Service.

Her first book entitled The Home Book of Indonesian Cookery was published in 1976. She went on to write many books including her important book The Rice Book.

As with most seminal food writings, there are a number of different publications and variations of Sri Owens Indonesian Regional Cooking. This review is based on the 1994 edition published in the United Kingdom by Doubleday and subsequently released by St Martin’s Press in the United States.

Indonesian Regional Cooking – The Book

The book is divided by both regional cuisines and styles of dish. The main part of the book is devoted to survey of regions of Indonesia where the author is able to show different cooking styles.

These include Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, Bali and Nusatenggara and Java/Madura. A separate chapter is also devoted to Jakarta because the author sees it as a melting pot of the myriad different styles that come together in that teeming city.

The last three chapters are devoted not to cuisines but to sweet dishes, side dishes and the cooking of rice.

Indonesian Regional Cooking is a treasure trove for those wanting to learn more about the complex cuisines of the area. It is highly recommended.

We have included Sri Owen’s masterpiece in our Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks.

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