Kerak Telor – Jakarta’s National Omelette

By Tris Marlis - Monday, Mar 25, 2013

Jakarta is known as the melting pot of the whole archipelago. It is where you can find street food from all over Indonesia, with borrowed accents from the rest of the world. There is one particular street snack that is a signature of the Betawi people, the natives of Jakarta, known as Kerak Telor – a crispy omelette with toasted glutinous rice. However, this snack is almost extinct in Jakarta.


The crispy glutinous rice omelette – Kerak Telor


Betawians (Batavians) are an ethnic group with an interesting mix, including British, Chinese, Arabian, Malay and Portuguese. Kerak telor is a simple snack that represents that rich culture, with hints of each of that culinary heritage- with glutinous rice, done like a frittata, has chillis, dessicated coconut and eating like a pancake.


When we asked an Indonesian culinary expert and writer, Mr Marchellinus Hanjaya, the reason behind its disappearance, he explains: “The traditional Betawi people have moved in droves to suburb area, since the rapid development happened about 10 to 15 years ago and hence there is a lesser demand for it there. Secondly, it somehow became inferior due to the invasion of the fast food and western food tradition.”


Kerak Telor also became less popular among street food vendors, possibly because it’s a delicacy that is delicately hand made and fans have high expectations of this snack, which can only be made upon order. It cannot be masses produced.


A Kerak Telor vendor at Kebon Jeruk


To make Kerak Telor, pre-soaked glutinous rice is first toasted on a pan until crispy before eggs are added, creating a roasting and crispy frittata. The cook has to artfully spread the toasted rice and ensure the edges are perfectly roasty and fragrant before dousing it with the egg. When the omelette is half-cooked, the pan is flipped and the omelette that is in direct contact with charcoal fire will be burned until the crust is nicely charred and crispy. Spicy grated coconut and minced dried shrimps are topped over. The whole process takes about five minutes, one portion at a time and each portion sells for only Rp. 12,000 (around S$1.50).


Today, Kerak Telor is considered a festive food, served during festivals like the annual Jakarta Fair on June and July. It’s the only period in Jakarta when Kerak Telor can be easily found.


Look out for a Kerak Telor vendor from Jakarta at our World Street Food Congress Jamboree. A team of street food experts will make them fresh on the spot simultaneously so wait time will be short. It will probably be the one and only time to try this delicacy in Singapore. Stay tune for details at www.wsfcongress.com