‘Kitab’ Mustikarasa Indonesia Real Evidence of Soekarno’s Seriousness in Working on the Indonesian Food Sector

"We know that food is not just a matter of the stomach stuff. Food is often a 'strategy' to smooth things out. But have you ever thought that food can be used as a political strategy and color the march of the nation's struggle?"

Published by : Farida  -  24/09/2021 14:09 WIB

2 Minutes read.

Mustikarasa is the most complete collection of Indonesian recipes from Sabang to Merauke inherited from President Soekarno. The book, which began to be compiled in the late 1960s, was published during turbulent times because it was close to the September 30th Movement. The complicated situation at that time caused this cookbook to be published in a hurry to catch up with the moment when Sokerano was still serving as president of Indonesia.


The recipes written in mustikarasa are divided into several groups: makanan utama (main dishes), lauk pauk basah berkuah (side dishes wet sauce), tidak berkuah (without sauce), gorengan (fried foods), bakar-bakaran (grilled foods), sambal (chilli sauce), sayur (vegetables), and also minuman (drinks). In addition to food recipes, they also discussed good kitchen arrangements, nutrition, snacks, and other culinary sundries.

Food became part of the political revolution echoed by Sukarno since the late 1950s. The preparation of mustikarasa is not only for the purpose of documenting Indonesia’s culinary wealth. More than that, the purpose of compiling the ‘kitab’ (book) Mustikarasa is also to provide the basis for Indonesia’s food defense policy. This 1207-page book indirectly shows Sukarno’s thoughts and seriousness in working on the food sector in Indonesia.

Soekarno’s Strategy at the Dining Table

Soekarno had realized the importance of diplomacy at the dinner table since the capital city was still in Yogyakarta until he returned to Jakarta. Soekarno, who at that time served as President, always intervened in the management of state guest events at the palace, even to the point of taking care of the dishes to be served. He always warned the palace cooks to not only serve European food and snacks to foreign guests. He was instructed to serve Indonesian specialties such as soto, gado-gado, klepon, etc. Soekarno always thought that food was a serious matter.

Sukarno’s Food Politics

Towards the end of the 1950s, Indonesia imported rice and the figure continued to rise, from the initial 350,000 tons to 800,000 tons in 1959. In addition to rice supplies, Indonesia was also threatened with a shortage of food supplies needed to improve food quality. With this background, Soekarno felt the need to take steps to resolve it through food politics. Especially considering Indonesia’s wide and diverse geographical conditions, there should be a wider introduction to the various types of food and their processing.

Mustikarasa and the Power of Rice

Soekarno harbored anxiety because rice consumption was getting higher in Indonesia. He then ordered the Lembaga Teknologi Makanan  (Food Technology Institute) to realize the preparation of a complete Kookboek for all people in the territory of Indonesia. The book is expected to be a guidebook for Indonesian people in any area about ingredients that can be used as daily food based on local wealth in each region. Soekarno wanted Indonesia to stand on its own feet in terms of food.