Refreshing and Healthy, Here’s How to Make Betawi’s Specialty Bir Pletok

"Some Indonesian food and drink cannot be separated from foreign influences or cultures that had a chance to assimilate with the local cultures. Bir Pletok is one of them. Although called bir (beer), this drink won’t make you hangover, because it does not contain alcohol. Bir pletok emerged as a form of innovation of the Betawi people by making similar beer-products commonly consumed by the Dutch which could be consumed by the Betawi people, who are mostly Muslim"

Published by : Farida  -  25/03/2022 09:11 WIB

3 Minutes read.

There are various traditional Indonesian drinks. One of the well-known drinks is bir plethok, a traditional Betawi drink that can be enjoyed warm or cold. It’s easy to make bir plethok. However, before we jump into the recipe, let’s understand the origins and benefits of bir plethok.

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Bir pletok has existed since the Dutch colonial era. It is said that Betawi residents made bir plethok because they were inspired by the wine that the Dutch often drink. Betawi residents, who are predominantly Muslim, certainly cannot consume wine because its alcoholic contents that are prohibited in Islam.

Not running out of innovative ideas, Betawi people experiment with various spices to create a drink with a wine-like appearance. Finally, they found a spice drink known as bir plethok. The name Bir is taken from its inspiration, the regular beer. While the name plethok is inspired from the pletak-pletok sound it is made when stored in bamboo cavities. 

Bir Pletok A Symbol of Success

Along with the development and times, bir plethok grew into a Betawi specialty drink. This drink is sold from street vendors to large restaurants. Among Betawi residents, there is an assumption that bir plethok represents success, splendor, or luxury.

Quoted from the Travel Kompas page, bir plethok is a symbol of splendor at various Betawi celebrations. People celebrating importan events such as wedding or a circumcision with bir plethok in their food menus are considered as successful people. There is even an assumption that although cakes and other treats are abundant, but without bir plethok around, then the celebration won’t be regarded as an impressive or luxurious event. 

Bir Pletok Ingredients

Bir plethok is maroon-brown in color. The taste tends to be spicy and sweet. The aroma of spices and pandan leaves is usually quite strong. It is obtained from a combination of cardamom, Javanese chili (Piper retrofractum), sappanwood, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, nutmeg, cloves, and pandan leaves (Pandanus amaryllifolius). 

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Bir plethok is quite easy to make. First clean all the ingredients. For ginger, it is better to burn it briefly and then crush it. Cut the ingredients other than sugar and pandan leaves into small pieces. Boil all ingredients other than sugar and pandan leaves. Once cooked, strain to separate the pulp. Then once again boil the bir plethok water with the addition of sugar and pandan leaves.

Once cooked, the bir plethok can be served. You can drink it warm or you can wait for it to cool and drink it with ice.

Bir Plethok Benefits

It is arguably that bir plethok is an innovation of jamu. At that time the Betawi people used bamboo to store bir plethok. This is fairly rare because most jamu are stored in bottles.

As herbal medicine with raw materials of spices, bir plethok is believed to have properties for our body. Bir plethok is believed to be able to overcome colds. In addition, quoted from Tagar.id, the sappanwood used to make bir plethok is able to overcome digestive disorders. This is because it contains gallic and tannic acids which are used to treat diarrhea. 

The ginger in bir plethok is able to anticipate headaches. Ginger serves to inhibit the work of prostaglandins that trigger headaches. In addition, bir plethok is also considered to be able to increase appetite and increase body immunity.

Curious to prove the benefits of bir plethok? You could make it right away. Yes, it’s guaranteed to be fun.