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Indonesian cuisine reflects the vast variety of people that live on the 6,000 populated islands that make up Indonesia. There is probably not a single "Indonesian" cuisine, but rather, a diversity of regional cuisines influenced by local Indonesian culture and foreign influences.
Throughout its history, Indonesia has been involved in trade due to its location and natural resources. Indonesia¡¯s indigenous techniques and ingredients, at least in the Malay World parts, are influenced by India, the Middle East, China and finally Europe. Spanish and Portuguese traders brought New World produce even before the Dutch came to colonize most of Indonesia. The Indonesian island of Maluku, which is famed as "the Spice Island," also contributed to the introduction of native spices to Indonesian and global cuisine. The cuisine of Eastern Indonesia is similar to Polynesian and Melanesian cuisine.
Sumatran cuisine, for example, often shows its Middle Eastern and Indian influence, featuring curried meat and vegetables, while Javanese cuisine is rather more indigenously developed. Elements of Indonesian Chinese cuisine can be seen in Indonesian cuisine: items such as bakmi (noodles), bakso (meat balls) and lumpia have been completely assimilated.
The most popular dishes that originated in Indonesia are now common across most of Asia. Popular Indonesian dishes such as satay, beef rendang, and sambals are also favored in Malaysia and Singapore. Soy-based dishes, such as variations of tofu (tahu) and tempe, are also very popular. Tempe is regarded as a Javanese invention, a local adaptation of soy-based food fermentation and production. Indonesian meals are commonly eaten with the combination of a spoon in the right hand and fork in the left hand, although in many parts of the country (such as West Java and West Sumatra) it is also common to eat with one's hands. In restaurants or households that commonly uses bare hands to eat, like in traditional Sundanese or Minangkabau restaurants, they usually served kobokan, a bowl of tap water with a slice of lime in it to gave fresh scent. This bowl of water with lime in it should not to be consummed, its used to wash one's hand before and after eating with bare hand.