Introducing Papeda, the Gelatinous Delish from East Indonesia


Indonesia is very rich in biodiversity, both on land and underwater. That also shows the culinary wealth of this archipelagic country. Indonesia does have lots of ‘common’ food that is available in most part of the country, but many places also have unique culinary dishes. One of them is Papeda.

The food has a glue-like texture. via Instagram/tatarumengan

This gelatinous and rather bland delicacy is omnipresent in eastern Indonesia. However, you can enjoy this unique dish in almost all big cities in Indonesia nowadays. Here is what you need to know about Papeda.

What is Papeda?

A serving of papeda and yellow fish soup. via Instagram/ayulidyar

To oversimplify it, Papeda is sago porridge or congee. The main ingredient is, of course, sago starch. The starch is extracted from a palm tree indigenous to mainly Southeast Asia. Cooking Papeda is as easy as it comes. You just have to cook the starch with water and then stirring it until it coagulates. Sometimes people also add salt or sugar based on their preference. When done, it will have a glue-like texture.

Where is it from

The dish is common in East Indonesia. via Instagram/jacob_sit

Papeda is the staple food in eastern Indonesia. Western and Central Indonesia favor rice as their staple food but their eastern counterpart prefers sago and papeda. This dish is the main source of carbohydrate for them. Traditionally, it can be found from Morotai in the north of Maluku to Papua.

Variants of Papeda

It is usually complemented with yellow fish soup. via Instagram/giasmine

On its own, Papeda is bland and a bit savory. However, just like steamed rice, papeda is not supposed to be eaten unaccompanied. The most popular complement for papeda is ikan bumbu kuning (yellow fish soup). It is basically a soup made from fish (usually tuna, mackerel, or mubara) with turmeric and lime as the main ingredients.

Served with fish soup. via Instagram/nisasukarso

Papeda is also great served with several papaya flower bud vegetables and water spinach. In some places, papeda is eaten with deep-fried fish. Some communities use fish that are common in their location to accompany papeda.

Where to enjoy papeda

Alenia Papua Coffee and Kitchen. via Instagram/alenia259

If you want to enjoy the original taste of papeda, you should go to East Indonesia. Papeda stalls you can find anywhere from Maluku to Papua will probably do. However, luckily, you can also try this dish in all big cities in Indonesia. Here is some of them:

  • Alenia Papua Coffee & Kitchen – Jl. Kemang Raya No.66 B, RT.8/RW.2, Bangka, Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta.
  • Warung Curhat Bahagia – Jl. Bkr Pelajar No.32, Ketabang, Genteng, Surabaya.
  • Danau Sentani resto – Jl. Ciumbuleuit No.61, Hegarmanah, Cidadap, Bandung.
  • Warung Egen’s – Pulau Ayu Gg. V No.15, Dauh Puri Klod, West Denpasar, Denpasar.
Papeda mixed with fish soup. via Instagram/d__tahitu

On its own, papeda is not much, just like rice. However, papeda can be a great delish when being served with seafood dishes. If you have never tasted papeda, try the safest route and eat it with yellow fish soup. You will not regret it.

north maluku Papeda Papua