How to cite this article:

R N Kusdiana, I Kusumawardhana and T Wiyana. (2018). A critical review of Ketupat Babanci: The development of traditional menu. Presented at The International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Citizenship 2018 (IC2L2C 2018). 5-6 September 2018. Bina Nusantara University. To be published in IOP Conference Series- Scopus Indexed


A critical review of Ketupat Babanci: The development of traditional menu

R N Kusdiana1, I Kusumawardhana2 and T Wiyana3

1 3Hotel Management Department, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta, Indonesia 11480

2Tourism Department, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta, Indonesia 11480


Abstract. The development of tourism products and particularly food tourism has had to adapt to newly trends and the demands of the market. A strategically thinking on food tourism in developing and sustaining local identities within the context of traditional cuisine is upsurge. The closer relation through food gastronomy is essential to understand historical, socio-cultural value and identify an internal strengths and weaknesses of food menu item within the potential market and sustainability issues. Therefore, benefitted from critical gastronomy and analysis performance, the article looks deeper and reveals undiscovered value on the traditional menu of Ketupat Babanci as the Betawi tribes’ authentic menu; the article provides the critical review and framework thinking for contemporary menu development initiative. The example through both primary and secondary data is provided to result the findings. The methods and model of thinking might help one to involve in the culinary development process and deal with sustainability purposes.

A connection between local food production and tourism is recognized by tourism sector, which involve the various parties that make up these structures. Gastronomy plays important role to contribute as globalization and competition between tourism destinations is escalated, local culture through cuisine is source of new discussion to think about products and activities to attract and amuse tourists in postmodern societies [1]. A visible phenomenon and scientifically prove, it is a common that people hunt for traditional food on weekends or holidays as part of food tourism activities[2-4].In Indonesia, a traditional food is becoming popular in various circles as there is business growth in this particular sector [5, 6]. Traditional food is types of food menu originated from a particular place [7]. Moreover, traditional food or culinary could present an identity or reflect the culture of a nation, place and also the area of origin [8, 9]. Noticeable, the most prominent time of traditional food market is during the fasting month where many people from various quarters will present traditional specialties compared with food from abroad or else. The month of fasting is the month in which the Moslems do the activities to not eat and drink starting from sunrise to sunset [10].

As Richards [1] argued “as tourists become more mobile, so does the food they eat”, Indonesia traditional culinary is also known and part of tourism products for both domestic and international tourist’s consumption. Although, Prawitasari [11] reported that Indonesia has only 30 iconic traditional cuisine. But, from east to west of Indonesia archipelagos, there were lots of traditional menu as a source of food and commodities for local community to represent their social and cultural identity, particularly in the capital city of Jakarta where ‘Betawi’ tribes are the native resident [12, 13]. Betawi cuisine has potential of tourism products and represent the culture [14, 15]. As such Untari [14] argued and discussed that Betawi culinary as potential products of ecotourism in Jakarta. Hence, Untari, Avenzora [15] said Betawi traditional cuisine through its uniqueness, originality, social value, distribution, sensitivity and seasonality were able to represent Betawi socio-cultural existence. Furthermore, Betawi cuisine has more than fifty types of authentic traditional food and beverages, which distinguished its flavour and taste such as the popular Gado-gado (mix salad), the true choice of Nasi Uduk Betawi (Coconut Rice) and Soto Betawi (Betawi Coconut Soup), the famous Kerak Telor (Mix of Fried Egg), and the traditional sweets of Dodol Betawi, Geplak and Gemblong as well as Bir Pletok as their well-known traditional beverages[16]. However, Ketupat Babanci as one of the genuine Betawi traditional food seems unpopular and forgotten at Betawi traditional cuisine since. In this sense, there is a concern about a production and sustainability of Ketupat Babanci menu as a Betawi authentic traditional culinary within the tribes as well as preservation of its production process. Therefore, derived from a gastronomy review, this qualitative research analysis is producing the article that highlights food gastronomy discussion by Ketaren [17] to understand an interaction factors that  useful to find a thinkable strategy to re-introduce Ketupat Babanci menu and potential development as common Betawi traditional food in a market. This article aims to identify facets of tourism interest to those involved in regional management and local development so that they might exploit both of gastronomy conversation and applicable strategic management as an engine for a broadening of traditional culinary product and preserve the uniqueness of the menu.

  1. Food Gastronomy

Gastronomy and tourism related discussion is becoming an important feature in the development of niche travel and tourism industry [18, 19].Additionally, both Richards [1] and Hjalager and Richards [20]were agreed that gastronomy’s activities and conversations comparable to what is experienced when consuming other tourism products such as visiting museums or historical sites. Gastronomy or culinary in other term can be understood as the art or science of good food (good eating). Gastronomy is everything related to the pleasure of eating and drinking. Originally, gastronomy that derived from Greek – ‘gastros’ (stomach) and ‘gnomos’ (knowledge or law), is a body of knowledge, which considered the relationship between the senses and food and the consumption of food and beverage from a science perspectives[19]. Therefore, a gastronomy topic would discuss a pleasure in eating good quality food and reflection of the process of consumption and processing the food. The scientist of gastronomy could be traced back through the work of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) by his remarkable publication of La Physiologie du gout (the physiology of taste)in 1825 [19, 21]. Furthermore Ardika in Miksic and Yian [22] added that gastronomy also include a detailed knowledge of national foods and beverages from major countries around the world. In this sense, the role of gastronomy is the basis for understanding how food and drink are used in certain situations. Nevertheless, Ketaren [17]informed and described gastronomy from various discussion for this study’s review including and the intersection between the culinary and gastronomy as well as provide the example of the food within the Indonesia traditional culinary. There are 5 (five) aspects, fields, or point of view that designated of gastronomy topics, namely:

  1. Practical Gastronomy: the practice to convert a raw material to be served that comprise of application, preparation, production, and food service
  2. Theory of Gastronomy: the theoretical discussion that describe a proses, system and food recipe, often to produce an academic paper or review.
  3. Technical Gastronomy: the activities done by culinary experts, food technologist, consultant, professional practitioner and businessman in a relation to give an assessment, evaluation and systematical gastronomy.
  4. Molecular Gastronomy: discuss about the transformation of physical-chemical process sourced from raw ingredients during the cooking process and consumption method.
  5. Food Gastronomy: discuss about the food menu from several perspectives such as historical, socio-cultural, geographic value, and cooking method[17]

In this case, the article would like to look the Ketupat Babanci menu from the food gastronomy point of view. Food gastronomic is used to achieve the objectives of a research, especially to study and review the Ketupat Babanci menu towards historical, socio-cultural within the Betawi tribe, its geographic value and cooking method such as the use of basic materials and the making of the menu, including its uniqueness in terms of processing and presentation of the food. In addition, this theory approach is also used to see the process rather than making the menu under study to be able to make it a potential culinary attraction. Food gastronomy theory is looking from actor’s point of view who support practical gastronomy by studying the Ketupat Babanci historical value, processes, systems of recipes that are implemented into academic or scientific writing. In order to do so, the review will go towards the menu document and formulate various kinds of procedures that must be done to maximize learning and efficiency of food processing and improve the success in processing the food dish[17].

  1. Research Method

With a limited number of research conducted on the food tourism [23], particularly towards gastronomy. Whilst, Atkins and Wallace [24] uses qualitative methodological terms of “people-focused”— instead of “objective” study that represent quantitative methodological terms. A qualitative research method that pressed an insight into individuals’ perceptions regarding several issues of concern is suitable for this article to be conducted especially in the subject concerning about tourism [25]. Bryman [26] argued that qualitative research strategy is broadly constructionist, inductivist, and interpretivist by nature. Therefore, the qualitative research method to review Ketupat Babanci menu as traditional menu development would inform this research method. A semi structured interview to several stakeholders surrounded area of  Rawabelong, Palmerah at west side of Jakarta greater district province were established. The region is well-known place for Betawi tribes’ resident lived and socialized. Regardless the demographic concern, the knowledge, the understanding, and perception about Ketupat Babanci menu item as traditional betawi food item were asked from local governance officers within the district and the Betawi tribes community living in the area. The qualitative strategic analysis approach [27] was employed against the twelve interview transcript through both gastronomy dialogues [17]. Finally, the results produce the conclusion and critical discussion on Ketupat babanci as the betawi’s traditional menu development.

  1. Food Gastronomy of Ketupat Babanci

It is understandable that food is one of the basic human needs. Foods consumed by humans are recommended to contain the nutrients that fit the needs of the body. Indonesia, which is famous for its cultural diversity, also has diversity in its food. Each tribe in Indonesia has distinctive dishes that are different with different tastes. Looking towards of food gastronomy point of discussion and the interview transcripts, this argument provides the research findings. Firstly, historically and socio-cultural perspectives, Betawi is the origin tribes who inhabit Java Island in Indonesia, precisely in city of Jakarta (Batavia), which has legendary local cultural wisdom[13]. Moreover, Ruchiat, Wibisono [28] provided the narrative of traditional Betawi culture such as traditional dance that always include a traditional food. Like dance, culinary is part of Indonesian culture identity [29]. Among more than 50 types of food as well as traditional beverages that characterize as the Betawi customs and culinary traditions, Ketupat Babanci also known as a 1000 herbs and spices dishes[16].Often called Ketupat Babanci because it is eaten with Ketupat which is presented as one of the special menu for Betawi people during Eid celebration. Popular with the name ‘bebanci’ which is only available during the traditional celebration, the menu’s acculturation is a typical taste of Arabian kitchen and Betawi spice. The uniqueness tastes come from the contents of young coconut meat. The Babanci or Sayur Babanci label comes from the uncertainty of this type of vegetable. This dish is not soto (clear soup), but also it is not a type of food like a curry or stew cuisine. Therefore, these uncertainty is what makes this type of vegetable soup is called a transvestite. One of the factors of this food is increasingly rare because of the difficulty of collecting spices or herbs that become raw materials. Ketupat Babanci has at least 21 types of ingredients, herbs, and spices. Some spices are also even rare, such as kedaung, botor, tai angin, lempuyang, temu mangga, temu kunci and bangle. Other uniqueness of this menu item is from the type of menu since although the name vegetables but the ingredients that used do not contain vegetables at all. Thus, Indonesia [16] said that ‘babanci’ refers to the “behavior” of this dish whose associated as sissy a.k.a. an identity that is difficult to define. In general, the menu also reflects the character of Betawi people who are funny and nyleneh (comedian). Additionally, one of the experts of Indonesian culinary, Bondan Winarno, the initiator of the Silk Road Community, argued that babanci may also be an acronym of Baba-Enci, a Chinese call, so it could be a Chinese-Betawi Peranakan dish. Other opinions say that is possible acronyms from Babeh-Encing which are typical Betawi calls (babeh for father’s calling, encing for aunt’s call). This Ketupat Babanci menu once included a fancy dish as it was only served by the Betawi family of defenders (foreman, landlord). Furthermore, Ketupat Babanci or Sayur babanci resembles Gule which is very dominant in the aroma and strong spice flavor. Originally, the meat used in the making of Ketupat Babanci is the head of the cow, but does not include the brain, tongue, and cingur (nose). In addition, Ketupat and “Srundeng”(finely ground grated coconut) is served altogether on the plate or soup bowl. However, in the recent times, people substitute the beef head ingredients with fat-mixed that mainly made from beef stock. Hence, the used of herb and spices are not complete as there are several types of ingredients have been very difficult to obtain such as lempuyang, temu mangga, temu kunci and bangle. Second, Ketupat Babanci ingredients and the cooking process are unordinary things. The process of making the menu is displayed in the table 1.

Table 1. Ketupat Babanci Cooking Process

Cooking Process of Ketupat Babanci
The process:
  • Boil all of meat until tender, take out the meat and set aside.
  • Bring sauté pan to the stove and heat the oil.
  • Sautee spice 1, Salam leaves and lemon grass until flavor comes out.
  • Add palm sugar and salt mix well and lift up.
  • Put that spices to the stock. Simmering the stock and then pouring water from young coconut and coconut milk.
  • Put all of meat after cut small pieces to the stock.
  • Heat the stock and stirring slowly until boiling.
  • Put spice 2 and roast grated coconut.

·         Cook until the spices become absorbed.

·         Put meat of young coconut to the stock, mix well and lift up.

·         Serve hot with the condiment

  • The Strength and Weaknesses of Ketupat Babanci Menu

Food gastronomy theory could reveal the strength and weakness of the menu. Ketupat Babanci menu through historical and socio-cultural value have strengths in the several aspects such as categorized as fancy menu that served for distinguished guest and special occasion, the used of special ingredients that can cure some diseases, the uniqueness of the name ‘babanci’ which represent the authentic Betawi words, combination of tastes and flavour which represent the traditional Betawi tribe, and the used of coconut meat as part of the final ingredients. However, in the same time the food gastronomy discussion would show the weakness of the menu. In this sense, Ketupat Babanci process and production is complex. Additionally, there are rare ingredients that often difficult to find in the ordinary market, and the limited seller and maker of this traditional menu, which make this menu unpopular within the Betawi tribe itself.

  1. Conclusion

Through the food gastronomy point of view, Ketupat Babanci as traditional menu from Betawi tribes would be categorized as the fancy menu and has historical value, this can be uplifted and marketed to re-introduce the menu to the market. Additionally, the use of special ingredients that useful for medical purposes can be promoted the menu to serve as dual function and introduce as traditional Betawi healthy food. Although the complexity of the cooking process and the need of special ingredient is matter. But, by looking on to different angle, the difficulties can attract culinary experts to look for molecular gastronomy discussion and social sustainability through a local food that has an authentic flavor and taste. With a need for further deconstruction of the ways each dimension of sustainability on a traditional menu Ketupat Babanci, – historical, socio-cultural, geographic value, and cooking method – independently enhances opportunity to bridge relations across certain diverse groups and foster an environment conducive to share. It also provides the critical thinking for Ketupat Babanci as the authentic traditional Betawi cuisine to re-introduce and have the opportunity to develop and convert into popular dishes. The food gastronomy examination on the Ketupat Babanci menu could provide a clear discussion and new thinking for the traditional menu to have development initiative. Hence, it is a way to provide the ability to use the concept to help interpret power relations within social groups and across a community, particularly within Betawi tribe sustainability. Opportunities to enhance sustainability through this menu Ketupat Babanci were further narrowed through socio-cultural and historically informed relations, where the continued importance of the menu ingredients, process and production are essentials aspects for preserving the value and uniqueness of the menu. Care needs to be upheld in regards to the extent to which enhancement of the traditional menu development through a specific ‘community’. Food gastronomy point of discussion prove to be able to produce the framework thinking for Ketupat Babanci menu to get examination and evaluation in order to help to involve in both thinking of regional and local development in term of product preservation and sustainability of the menu.


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