It is widely believed that peanuts were brought to Indonesia by Spanish explorers. The seeds were carried from Mexico via the Philippines, and planted across the country, from Sumatera to Java and Sulawesi. Peanuts became farmers’ favourite crop because they were so easy to grow and fetched a good price at market.
Peanut sauce is the base of many of Indonesia’s most iconic foods: sate, gado-gado, karedok, pecel, otak-otak – all delicious and all dependant on the humble peanut. Between meals, roasted, fried or boiled peanuts are a very popular snack which have become part of the social life. Whether Indonesians are meeting friends or family, watching a soccer game or just staying up late, there will always be peanuts.
Traditionally, street vendors sell peanuts which have been steamed in their shells, sometimes with a little added salt for flavouring. In stores they can be bought roasted or fried without oil, often with small pieces of garlic or red onions.