Martabak is one of the most versatile and beloved desserts in the whole of Indonesia. The indulgent creation has a savoury side, but it is the sweet offerings that normally have people venturing out to their favourite places. To celebrate the long-standing taste, name, and origin of martabak, here are five facts you may not know about one of Indonesia’s favourite dessert.
Even with so many flavours and combinations, the name martabak always sticks. However, this wasn’t always the case as the original name for sweet martabak was hok lo pan. Originating from Bangka Belitung, the first martabak creation was made by the Hakka people of Bangka. This means that occasionally you’ll see a sign for Martabak Bangka, which means that you can try some original martabaks if you’re lucky.
These days, there a number of new toppings and flavours with new creations popping up each time a new chocolate bar or dessert is made. The constant combinations can be overwhelming, but for those people looking to enjoy the original toppings, they can try peanut and chocolate. The original combination was peanut butter and chocolate powder, which has been recreated in a number of ways.
Indonesia is the biggest collection of islands in the world, which has resulted in one thing having a number of different names. When hunting down martabak in Bandung, you might want to ask for “moon bright cake”, while in Semarang it is called “Bandung cake” and in Pontianak it is called apam pinang, to name but a few.
The best time to enjoy martabak is at night. There are a number of reasons that have been suggested for this, but most think it is because of the lack of other market stalls at that time. The resulting extra space made it perfect for sweet delights to creep in. Yet many sellers have changed the flavours and tastes to match what people need after work or after their main meal. This has led to martabak becoming a favourite among a number of cultures and generations.
Although you can enjoy some really nice savoury recipes, the main taste of martabak is sweet. This is largely due to the base dough used when making the dessert. Seen as more of a canvas than a main ingredient, the dough is often lacking in sweetness or extra flavour so it will soak up the additional toppings whatever they might be.