Journey To Java's 'Tempeh Village': Where Soybean Cakes Are Born

For centuries, Asia has been home to sophisticated vegetarian cultures. In recent years, Americans have gradually discovered cooking with meat substitutes like tofu and an Indonesia soybean cake called tempeh.

Tempeh is known for being versatile. There's an almost endless variety of ways to cook it. My favorite is perhaps one of the simplest: Cut it into thin slices, cover it in spices and crushed coriander seeds, and pan-fry it in a little oil until it's golden brown.

In Indonesia — and particularly on the island of Java — tempeh is so basic to the daily diet, you could almost call it meat-and-potatoes fare. Well, minus the meat maybe. It's made using a unique process of fermentation, and I was curious to see how that works, so I visited Kebun Jeruk village, in west Jakarta. It's a working-class neighborhood of simple, low-rise homes. The locals call it Tempeh Village.

Mr. Hendoko (who goes by just one name) is the manager of a cooperative here that provides roughly a third of Jakarta's tempeh. "We have 1,417 tempeh-making households here, all under one cooperative," Hendoko says. "The cooperative produces nearly 2 tons of tempeh a day." Hendoko says tempeh has been part of the local culture for centuries. "My world revolves around tempeh," he says. "I have tempeh every day. Even though there are other dishes, a meal just wouldn't feel the same without tempeh."

After walking through the village, we come to a communal kitchen where the beans are prepared and boiled. Men stripped to the waist are washing and husking the beans over big barrels. It's a Dickensian scene of sweat, sinew and soybeans. It's also somewhat refreshing to find a product that, in an age of supermarkets and hermetic packaging, is still wrapped in banana leaves and sold in local bazaars.

Ironically, the soybeans in this quintessentially Indonesian food are imported from the U.S. Hendoko says the beans are then taken from the kitchen back to the individual families that will make them into cakes of tempeh. "First, we mix the clean and split beans with some yeast," he explains. "Then we pack them into cakes. And we put the cakes on these drying racks to ferment for 18 hours." He shows us a small brick made of cassava starch that's used to make the mold or fungus that causes the beans to ferment. It's what makes the beans stick together. It has no particular smell to it, and when I eat the tempeh, I don't think I taste it — only the smoky, nutty, mushroomy, meaty taste of the tempeh.

According to Hendoko, it's that fermentation that makes tempeh so healthy, and allows people to digest all those high-protein soybeans without ballooning up with gas. Hendoko's daughter has found new outlets for the tempeh: She fries it up as crispy chips, reminiscent of Pringles, which she sells over the Internet. Ultimately, he has sky-high expectations for his village's products: "I think that with government support and media promotion, in 20 years' time, tempeh will conquer the world."

Global domination by cakes of fermented soybeans, in two decades' time? Sounds like a tall order. Then again, a few decades back, who would have guessed that raw fish, wasabi and rice balls would catch on in the U.S.?

This article is taken from The Salt.

Solving A Misunderstanding and Asking For Directions

Solving a Misunderstanding
Sorry! (or: I beg your pardon!)Permisi!
Sorry (for a mistake)Maaf
No problem!Tidak masalah!
Can you repeat please?Bisa tolong ulangi?
Can you speak slowly?Bisakah Anda bicara lebih pelan?
Can you write it down?Bisakah Anda tulis?
Did you understand what I said?Apakah Anda mengerti apa yang saya ucapkan?
I don't understand!Saya tidak mengerti!
I don't know!Saya tidak tahu!
What's that called in Indonesian?Apakah itu dalam Bahasa Indonesia?
What does that word mean in English?Apakah arti kata itu dalam bahasa Inggris?
How do you say "thanks" in Indonesian?Bahasa Indonesianya "thank you" itu apa?
What is this?Apa ini?
My Indonesian is badBahasa Indonesia saya jelek
Don't worry!Jangan kuatir!
I agree with youSaya setuju dengan Anda
Is that right?Apa itu benar?
Is that wrong?Apa it salah?
What should I say?Apa yang harus saya katakan?
I just need to practiceSaya hanya perlu berlatih
Your Indonesian is goodBahasa Indonesia Anda bagus
I have an accentSaya punya logat/aksen
You don't have an accentAnda tidak punya logat/aksen
Asking for Directions
Excuse me! (before asking someone)Permisi!
I'm lostSaya tersesat
Can you help me?Bisa tolong saya?
Can I help you?Bisa saya bantu?
I'm not from hereSaya bukan dari daerah sini
How can I get to (this place, this city)?Bagaimana caranya ke (tempat ini, kota ini)?
Go straightLurus
Turn leftBelok kiri
Turn rightBelok kanan
Can you show me?Bisakah Anda kasih tunjuk?
I can show you!Saya bisa kasih tunjuk
Come with me!Ikutlah dengan saya!
How long does it take to get there?Berapa lama dari sini ke sana?
Downtown (city center)Pusat kota
Historic center (old city)Kota bersejarah
It's near hereDekat dari sini
It's far from hereJauh dari sini
Is it within walking distance?Apakah bisa jalan kaki dari sini ke sana?
I'm looking for Mr. SmithSaya mencari Bapak Smith
One moment please!Tunggu sebentar!
Hold on please! (when on the phone)Tunggu sebentar!
He is not hereDia tidak ada di sini
Bus stationTerminal bis
Train stationStasiun kereta

This article is taken from My Languages.

Hotel, Restaurant, Travel, Shopping Expressions

Hotel Restaurant Travel Phrases
I have a reservation (for a room)Saya punya reservasi
Do you have rooms available?Apakah ada kamar kosong?
With shower / With bathroomDengan shower / Dengan kamar mandi
I would like a non-smoking roomSaya ingin kamar bebas merokok
What is the charge per night?Berapakah harga per malamnya?
I'm here on business /on vacationSaya di sini untuk urusan bisnis / liburan
Do you accept credit cards?Anda terima kartu kredit?
I'd like to rent a carSaya ingin menyewa mobil
How much will it cost?Berapa harganya?
A table for (one / two) please!Minta satu meja untuk (satu / dua) orang!
Is this seat taken?Apakah kursi ini ada orangnya?
I'm vegetarianSaya vegetarian
I don't eat porkSaya tidak makan babi
I don't drink alcoholSaya tidak minum alkohol
What's the name of this dish?Apa nama masakan ini?
Waiter / waitress!Pelayan!
Can we have the check please?Bisa minta bonnya?
It is very delicious!Sangat enak!
I don't like itSaya tidak suka itu
Shopping Expressions
How much is this?Berapa ini harganya?
I'm just lookingCuma lihat-lihat
I don't have changeSaya tidak punya kembalian
This is too expensiveIni terlalu mahal
Daily Expressions
What time is it?Jam berapa sekarang?
It's 3 o'clockJam 3
Give me this!Berikan aku ini!
Are you sure?Anda yakin?
Take this! (when giving something)Ambil ini!
It's freezing (weather)Dingin sekali
It's cold (weather)Udaranya dingin
It's hot (weather)Udaranya panas
Do you like it?Apakah Anda suka?
I really like it!Saya suka sekali!
I'm hungrySaya lapar
I'm thirstySaya haus
He is funnyDia lucu
In The MorningDi pagi hari
In the eveningDi sore hari
At NightDi malam hari
Hurry up!Cepat!

Note from your Bahasa assistant:

The pronoun "pelayan" to summon "waiter/waitress" is old fashioned although it's kind of acceptable.

This article is taken from My Languages.

Greetings and Farewell Expressions

EnglishIndonesian Phrases
Good morning!Selamat Pagi!
Good afternoon!Selamat Siang!
Good evening!Selamat Sore!
Welcome! (to greet someone)Selamat Datang!
Hello my friend!Halo temanku!
How are you? (friendly)Apa kabar?
How are you? (polite)Apa kabar?
I'm fine, thank you!Baik-baik saja, terima kasih!
And you? (friendly)Bagaimana dengan Anda?
And you? (polite)Bagaimana dengan Anda?
Not so goodTidak begitu baik
Long time no seeLama tidak berjumpa
I missed youKangen
What's new?Ada kabar baru?
Nothing newTidak ada yang baru
Thank you (very much)!Terima kasih (banyak)!
You're welcome! (for "thank you")Kembali!
My pleasureDengan senang hati
Come in! (or: enter!)Mari!
Make yourself at home!Santailah serasa di rumah Anda!
Farewell Expressions
Have a nice day!Semoga hari Anda menyenangkan!
Good night!Selamat malam!
Good night and sweet dreams!Mimpi yang indah!
See you later!Sampai nanti!
See you soon!Sampai nanti!
See you tomorrow!Sampai besok!
Good bye!Sampai jumpa!
Have a good trip!Semoga perjalanan Anda menyenangkan!
I have to goSaya harus pergi
I will be right back!Saya segera kembali

This article is taken from My Languages.

Pronouns - 'you'

Pronouns - The word 'you' choose for you depends on four main factors: 

1. whether you are on friendly/intimate terms or formal/distant terms with the person you are speaking to 

2. whether you are speaking informally or formally 

3. whether the person you are speaking to is a relative or not 

4. whether you are of higher or lower status/age than the person you are speaking to 

25 most commonly used words for 'you' are: 

1. personal name 

2. abang (older brother) 

3. adik (younger brother/sister) 

4. anak (child) used by teachers to students 

5. anda - when speaking formally to someone of similar status 

6. ayah (father) 

7. bapak (father, sir) 

8. bibi (aunt) or older woman (affectionate term) 

9. engkau - respectful but informal 

10. ibu (mother, ma'am, madam) 

11. kakak (older brother/sister) 

12. kakek (grandfather) 

13. kalian - you plural - informal 

14. kamu - used in three ways - 1. between people of similar age on intimate/friendly terms, 2. an adult speaking to a child, 3. an adult talking down to another adult 

15. lu - slangy speech used by young people 

16. nyonya - speaking respectfully to a married woman 

17. nenek (grandmother) 

18. nona - polite and formal speech to young single woman 

19. -nya - when unsure of second person pronoun to use 

20. om (uncle) used by youger person to older man 

21. paman (uncle) 

22. saudara - adressing young man/woman formally 

23. situ - casual speech to someone whos name you don't know 

24. tante (aunt) used by younger person to older woman 

25. tuan - used by lower status person to respectfully address a high status man 

This modified article is taken from PhraseBase.

Plural Forms II - 'me,' 'you' and 'he/she' (non-gender)

Plural Forms II - There are many synonyms for the word 'me,' 'you' and 'he/she' (non-gender). 

For your information, these synonyms were present because of the influence of local dialect, the influence of local values (eg. high status level have a different pronoun from lower status). Most of these variations are used depend on the situation, with whom you're speaking with, and depend on the relations level between the speaker and the listener. 

If one speak with older people than him (parents, teacher, elder), he/she will address him/herself as saya or aku (a little bit lower level) and barely ever using these 'slangs', and address the listener with Anda (upper case 'A' for specific 'you' - eg. direct sentence) or Pak (contraction from Bapak), Bu (contraction from Ibu), or other formal address (see previous post below). 

-Saya sudah makan tadi, Bu      I already eat, M'am (or Mom) 
-Aku mau pergi dulu ya, Kek (contraction of Kakek)     I'm going, Gramp (contraction from Granpa / Grandfather) 
-Apakah Anda sudah merasa lebih baik, Pak? 
-Ayah mau pergi kemana? (rather than 'Anda mau pergi kemana, Yah?' - doesn't sounds good)     Where are dad going? (instead of Where are you going, dad?) 

And here's the list 


Saya (widely used) 
Aku (widely used) 
Beta (dialect from eastern Indonesia) 
Gue/Gua (youth, Jakarta dialect) 
Hamba (humble self address, means 'servant') 
Hamba sahaya (same like above, usually used in written language) 
Kita/Kami (actually means 'we,' but most of the time refers to 'I represented a group of people') 
Kulo (Javanese word for 'aku') 
*some people refer themselves as third person by using his/her name as pronoun - this can be found in conversation in some occassions 


Anda (widely used) 
Kamu (used among friends, relatives, and those who have close relation with the speaker) 
Elo/elu/lu/loe (read the same with 'lu'; youth, Jakarta slang) 
Kau/Engkau (almost the same as 'kamu') 
Situ (means something like 'you there') 
Kowe/koe (Javanese dialect for 'kamu') 
Sampeyan (Javanese dialect, higher level than above, used for elder as 'anda') 
Tuan, Nyonya, Saudara (Gentleman/Gentlemen/Brother), Saudari (Lady/Ladies/Sister) 

Dia/Ia (widely used) 
Orang itu (that man)

This modified article is taken from PhraseBase.

Personal Pronouns

Pronouns - As indicated above, a strong sense of social hierarchy attaches to the personal pronouns for "I" and "you". For this reason, Indonesians prefer to use first names or the polite forms of address given in the previous post rather than these personal pronouns. In conversation with someone you are meeting for the first time or meeting on a formal basis, it is more polite to refer to them as bapak or ibu followed by the person's first name (if known) rather than using the pronouns for "you". 

1st person singular : saya, aku 
1st person plural : kita, kami 
2nd person singular : anda, saudara, kamu, engkau, bapak, ibu 
2nd person plural : kalian, saudara sekalian, anda sekalian 
3rd person singular : dia 
3rd person plural : mereka 

Note : Indonesian pronouns do not distinguish gender, thus dia may mean he, she or it. 

1st person (singular): saya, aku 

Use your own name with people who know you, or else the pronoun saya (which originally meant "your slave" but know generally means "I"). Aku also means "I" but used in more informal circumstances, as are the Jakarta slang forms gua and gue (which derive from Hokkien Chinese). Note that when requesting something, words for "I" are often omitted because this is understood. 

1st person (plural): kita, kami 

Kami means "we" or "us" but formally excludes the person or persons being addressed, whereas kita includes the person or persons you are speaking to. In everyday speech, kita is in both contexts and you may generally use this form to translate English "we". 

2nd person (singular): anda, saudara, kamu, engkau, bapak, ibu 

Use bapak or ibu. In informal circumstances, the first name alone may also be used. If the person the person being addressed is about the same age as yourself, use anda or saudaraKamu or engkau may be used for children or you know the person well. 

2nd person (plural): kalian, saudara sekalian, anda sekalian 

3rd person (singular): dia, beliau 

For animate objects and persons use dia. The word beliau[i/] is also used in formal circumstances to refer to a person of very high status who is not present. For inanimate things, use ini (this one) or itu (that one), to mean "it". 

3rd person (plural): they mereka

This article is taken from PhraseBase.