Bumbu (seasoning)

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Traditional way on grounding bumbu using stone pestle and mortar. In Indonesia (javanese region) it is called Ulekan, name differs for different regions in the country

Bumbu is the Indonesian word for spices mixture or seasoning, and it commonly appears in the names of certain spice mixtures, sauces and seasoning pastes.[1] It is commonly found in Indonesian cuisine, which includes its regional variants such as Balinese, Javanese, Sundanese, Padang, Batak and Manado cuisines. It is spread over various meats, poultries, seafoods and vegetables; used in stews, soups, barbecue, sotos, gulais, and also as a common addition to Indonesian-style instant noodles. The practice of blending spices, herbs and seasonings is perhaps the most distinctive feature of Indonesian cuisine; it produce some of the most flavorful food in the world.[2]

Indonesians have developed original gastronomic themes with lemongrass and galangal, cardamom and chilies, tamarind and turmeric.[3] The spice mixture is commonly made by slicing, chopping, grounding, beating, bruising, or sometimes burning the spices, using traditional cooking tools such as stone pestle and mortar, or a modern blender or food processor. The bumbu mixture was usually stir fried in hot cooking oil first to release its aroma, prior to adding the main ingredient (meats, poultry, or fish).


Indonesian dishes such as Balinese nasi campur are rich with bumbu (herbs, spices, and seasoning)

The main function of bumbu is actually the same as common spices; as flavouring agent, to add, enrichen and/or to enhance taste and aroma. However, in tropical Indonesian climate, prior to the discovery of refrigeration technology, the cooking and preparing food through spicing was used to kill the dangerous microbes and to improve food safety. The spices used in Indonesian bumbus such as garlic, shallot, ginger and galangal that are used in rendang have antimicrobial properties and serve as natural organic preservatives.[4] Some of spices are known to inhibit the growth of microbes. That is why if cooked properly, dry rendang can last for as long as four weeks and still safe to be consumed.[5]


Various Indonesian spices
Various Indonesian spices sold in traditional marketplace

Known throughout the world as the "Spice Islands", the Indonesian islands of Maluku contributed to the introduction of its native spices to world cuisine. Spices such as pala (nutmeg/mace), cengkeh (clove), daun pandan (Pandan leaves), kluwek (Pangium edule) and laos (galangal) are native to Indonesia. It is likely that lada hitam (black pepper), kunyit (turmeric), sereh (lemongrass), salam koja (curry leaf), bawang merah (shallot), kayu manis (cinnamon), kemiri (candlenut), ketumbar (coriander), jahe (ginger) and asam jawa (tamarind) were introduced from India or mainland Southeast Asia, while daun bawang (scallions) and bawang putih (garlic) were introduced from China. Those spices from mainland Asia were introduced early, in ancient times, thus they became integral ingredients in Indonesian cuisine. While the New World spices such as chili pepper and tomato were introduced by Portuguese and Spanish traders during the age of exploration in the 16th century. List of spices used in bumbu are:[6][7][8]

It is important to note that each bumbu recipes use certain collection or combination of different spices.[2]


Bottled sambal (hot chili sauce)

Indonesian cuisine also recognize various types of sauces, condiments and seasonings, some are basic seasonings, some are indigenously developed, while another was influenced by Indian, Chinese and European sauces, such as:

Recently there are some additional foreign sauces and seasonings that has been included into Indonesian kitchen and sometimes used as condiment, such as:

Basic bumbu[edit]

Some of basic ingredients of Indonesian bumbu
Bumbu paste are usually stir fried in coconut oil to release its aroma

In Indonesian cuisine there are myriad variations of bumbu spice mixture, divided according to each recipes and each regional cuisine traditions. For example, Balinese cuisine recognize basa genep bumbu, while Minang cuisine recognize pemasak bumbu. However, there are four generic basic bumbu recognized in Indonesian cuisine divided according to its colours.

  1. Bumbu dasar putih (basic white bumbu), consists of ground shallot, garlic, galangal, candlenut and corriander, all are stir fried in coconut oil, use it right away or stored in a jar and put in refrigerator for further uses.[9] It can be used in all Indonesian dishes that had whitish color, such as opor ayam, sayur lodeh, various soto, and only need to add Indonesian bay leaf, lemon leaf, and lemongrass. It can also used to cook rawon, semur, mie goreng, various stir fried vegetables, tofu and tempeh dishes.
  2. Bumbu dasar merah (basic red bumbu), consists of ground red chili pepper, shallot, garlic, tomato, burned shrimp paste, coconut sugar, salt, all are stir fried in coconut oil, use it right away or stored in a jar and put in refrigerator for further uses.[10] It can be used for various Indonesian dishes that have reddish color such as various stir-fried vegetables, nasi goreng, sambal goreng hati, etc., only need to add daun salam (Indonesian bay leaf), bruised lemongrass and galangal.
  3. Bumbu dasar kuning (basic yellow bumbu), consist of ground shallot, garlic, sauteed candlenut, burned turmeric, coriander, ginger, galangal, black pepper, all are stir fried in coconut oil, use it right away or stored in a jar and put in refrigerator for further uses.[11] It is used in various Indonesian dishes that have yellowish color, such as various soto, pepes, mie goreng and ayam goreng, sometimes acar kuning yellow bumbu are poured upon ikan bakar or ikan goreng.
  4. Bumbu dasar jingga/oranye (basic orange-colored bumbu), consists of ground red chili pepper, shallot, garlic, caraway, anise, coriander, candlenut, turmeric, ginger, galangal, black pepper, all are stir fried in coconut oil, use it right away or stored in a jar and put in refrigerator for further uses. It is used in various orange-colored Indonesian dishes, such as gulai, Indonesian curry, kalio and rendang.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kumar's Curries & Bumbus (2011). "Curries and Bumbus". Verstegen. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  2. ^ a b Wina Wiroreno (16 March 2010). "Spice Up Your Life the Indonesian Way". My Cooking Without Borders. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Indonesia: Spices". Global Gourmet. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Winiati Pudji Rahayu, Aktivitas Antimikroba Bumbu Masakan Tradisional Hasil Olahan Industri Terhadap Bakteri Patogen Perusak[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Indonesia Proud: William Wongso: Duta Rendang di Dunia Kuliner Internasional
  6. ^ "Herbs and Spices, The most important part of Indonesian cooking". Discover Java and Bali. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Bumbu". Spices of India. 
  8. ^ "Telor Bumbu Bali". 
  9. ^ "Bumbu Dasar Putih" (in Indonesian). Sajian Sedap. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Bumbu Dasar Merah" (in Indonesian). Resep Kita. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Bumbu Dasar Kuning" (in Indonesian). Sajian Sedap. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Bumbu Dasar ala Chef Rudi Choirudin - Cocok untuk Ramadhan" (in Indonesian). Resepista. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 

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