The Jakarta Post
Mustika Rasa, published in 1967. (Kompas.com/Silvita Agmasari)
Aside from the majestic monuments, statues and artworks, Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, also left behind a little-known recipe book titled Mustika Rasa, published in 1967.
JJ Rizal, an Indonesian historian, told kompas.com during the re-launch of the book on Sunday that “Sukarno’s task after Indonesian independence day was to promote unity in diversity. One of the ways is through food. We have abundant culinary traditions in Indonesia but we have never documented them on a national scale.”
According to Rizal, the first documentation of Indonesian cuisine happened in the Dutch colonial times. Back in 1902, the East Indies government launched a book titled Groot Nieuw Volledig Oost-Indisch Kookboek, written by JMJ Catenius van der Meyden. The book encompasses 1,300 culinary recipes from the East Indies and was written for Dutch women.
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In 1964, Sukarno sent his wife Hartini to collect Indonesian recipes and compose Mustika Rasa.
He also gathered village officials, culinary experts and nutritionists to help compose the book.
However, the production of the book was halted by the Sept. 30 coup in 1965.
According to Rizal, “this book finally made it to print in haste in 1967. The options were to publish the book when Sukarno is still President, or not at all.”
Because of the rushed publishing process, the book seems incomplete.
Food enthusiast and practitioner Santhi Serad has outlined the book’s contents.
“The book is 1,123 pages long. Aside from food, there are also notes on kitchen organization, nutrition, snacks, how to make good ketupat and many more.”
Mustika Rasa also talks about topics that are considered taboo today, such as the use of blood and pork recipes.
“The book is presented with its own uniqueness and it represents its era, the Sukarno era. Sukarno is famous for his five revolutionary guidelines, but not many people know that he has this book,” Rizal said.
“For our independence day this year, we have been handed a very important inheritance, because Sukarno took Indonesian cuisine very seriously. This is an inheritance, which is also a responsibility for us to feel truly liberated.”
Mustika Rasa can only be found in Kedai Tjikini at Cikini Raya 17 in Central Jakarta for Rp 400,000 (US$30). The book was reprinted by Komunitas Bambu and only 800 copies are available. The new edition of Mustika Rasa has been printed in the updated and improved version of Bahasa Indonesia. (asw)
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