By Nylah Lee 8th August 2023Petty is sharing her recipes for one of Barack Obama’s favorite meals in soups: Mie Bakso, meatballs, and rice noodles in a thick and flavorful beef stock. O

During a state visit to Indonesia, the, former US President Obama delivered unforgettable remarks during his dinner address: “Bakso, nasi goreng… semuanya enak! ” Or “Meatball soup, fried rice… it’s all delicious!”

A popular dish in the country in which Obama was a resident for four years of his youth in Indonesia is mie Baksois a hearty, warm soup made of meatball noodles. In addition to his numerous testimonials about the delicious flavor of the dish and candid pictures of the president enjoying the meal at restaurants such as the Grand Garden Cafe in Bogor, Indonesia, mie Bakso has been dubbed one of Obama’s favorite soups.

Obama isn’t the only one to express his admiration for mie bakso; the soup is loved by people living on the Islands of Indonesia. It is particularly loved in the place it was first created in the capital city of Jakarta, which is located on the largest island, Java. In her cookbook The Indonesian Table,, the writer Petty Pandean Elliot was sure to include her own experiences living in Jakarta, details about the distinctiveness of Indonesian cuisine, and, of course, the history of mie bakso.

“We catch up through food, we share happiness through food, we share sadness through food,” she stated. “Food has a big role in everyday life. We have 17,000 islands, 1,000 different ethnicities, 700 languages, and I think as a country, that is magnificent, and I want to celebrate it more and to share with the world that we have this amazing diversity.”

(jumping to the recipe [jump to recipe

Pandean-Elliot explained that the flavor of mie bakso’s flavor is just as complicated as the composition of Indonesia,. So the first step to creating a delicious bowl is to understand its components. Every bowl combines rice noodles, a broth made of cooked meat and vegetables, and finely minced, flavorful beef meatballs. It is common to top the soup with crisp celery leaves and shallots. Certain variations are also served with hard-boiled egg beansprouts and tofu. These give texture, flavor, and character to the soup. Pandean Elliot also offers her mie-bakso with mild soup sauces, Sriracha, tomato sauce (ketchup), and vinegar, and, perhaps most important, it comes with the Indonesian chili paste, also known as Sambal. The resultant soup is tangy, spicy and rich – a flavor profile that reflects the country’s cuisine.

In the book The Indonesian Table, author Petty Pandean-Elliot made sure to write about her own experiences growing up in Jakarta (Credit Petty Pandean-Elliott)

“I know it’s [a] very strange combination, isn’t it? But I think [it] represents the diversity in Jakarta, the melting pot of people and the culture in one bowl, so I find it fascinating actually,” said Pandean Elliot.

She says that Java food in terms of “diverse,” explains that croquettes are very popular with Indonesian street vendors and bakers are likely to have been introduced during Dutch colonialism during the late 16th century. Chilies, whichat the center of spicy Indonesian food, were the consequence of trading with Spanish or Portuguese merchants at about the same time. Also, Bakso (meatballs) can be believed to have originated from 13th-century Chinese immigration because of the similarity with the shape ,flavor, and taste of Chinese beef and fish balls.

Similar to how these countries have impacted Indonesia and the rest of the world, this dynamic island group has significantly impacted the world’s food. According to Pandean Elliot, mace, nutmeg, and cloves that come from the archipelago, which has been called”the “Spice Islands,” have played an important role in the creation of globally recognized essential dishes “from Chinese five spice and Indian garam masala to North African ras-el-hanout and baharat to the French quatre epices and Dutch speculaas,” she added. The culinary influence of the archipelago is further accentuated by the apex of popular foods like tempeh, nasi goreng (fried rice), and satay. The secret ingredient in mie bakso’s spicy spice and Sambal.

“Sambal is condiment that brings extra flavours to the dish,” explained the chef, who has included several variations of the chili sauce within her cookbook. “[It] is the most important aspect of Indonesian food culture because [we] just like very, very spicy food.”

Intoxicating with flavor with heat, taste, and a degree of spice comparable to his well-known chili recipes, It’s no wonder that Obama is at ease with an ice-cold bowl of mie bakso.