A jackfruit for all seasons: Borobodur and Nasi Gudeg

17 May

Another day in Yogya, another temple visit and regional specialty. Yogyakarta’s more famous archaeological site is Borobodur, said to be the largest Buddhist stupa in the world.

The stupas of Borobodur

The main stupa is surrounded by 72 smaller stupas, each containing a Buddha statue. This sits on top of three stone levels, each carved with chapters from the story of Buddha’s enlightenment; the full pilgrim’s circuit equals about 5km (or 2.5 miles) in distance.

The best time to go to Borobodur is early in the morning, because 1) most of the tourists haven’t gotten there, and 2) it’s still a comfortable temperature. Plus, Borobodur looks especially beautiful with the morning mists.


Unfortunately, this also required us to get up at 5 in the morning, missing the hotel’s breakfast. You can imagine how hungry and under-caffeinated we were after temple-viewing. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of entrepreneurs waiting to take advantage of this captive audience. We stopped at one of the stalls to get some much needed coffee and breakfasted on Yogya’s other specialty, nasi gudeg.

Does this look like fruit to you?

Nasi gudeg is rice (nasi) served with young jackfruit that’s been cooked in coconut milk with palm sugar and various spices, including teak leaves, which I didn’t realize until now were edible. (The gudeg is the brown stuff on the left.) I ordered it complit (means just what it sounds like — thank goodness for loanwords), so it also came with a stewed chicken of some sort and some fried tofu. Breakfast of champions.

Gudeg is hard to describe; it looks like a beef dish (thanks to the teak leaves’ brown color), and it has an unusually meaty texture for being plant-based. It was nothing like the young jackfruit curry I had in Malaysia — which I prefer, for its spiciness.

And that’s it for Java! (This time, anyway.) If all goes as planned, SOK will be back with reports on Belgian beer and Parisian bistros in the next post.


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