Go tell it on the Mountain

One day there was an announcement in my office that this year we will go to Mount Bromo in East Java for our year-end gathering .

Mount Bromo is a convenient stop for travellers between Bali and Surabaya, and the most popular of all East Java’s travel destinations, this active 2,392-metre- (7,85 foot-) high volcano lies 112 kilometres (70 miles), about three hours, southeast of Surabaya. Enclosed by perpendicular walls 350 metres (1,150 feet) high, Bromo’s awesome 2,200-metre- (7,220-foot-) high ‘sand sea’ caldera has three mountains within it, craters within one huge crater, the Bromo Semeru Massif. There are also three small crater lakes inside the larger crater.

The ideal time to visit is in the dry season (April-November) when you have a better chance of seeing a blood-red sunrise in the wet season, you might as well sleep late and stroll across the sand sea during the warmer part of the day, after the heavy fog has blown away. The temperature on top of Bromo is around 5 degree Celcius; in July, it could drop to zero degree Celcius. Three times a year, the site is overrun by tourists in February when an annual festival takes place, over Christmas, and during July and August.

As a person who grew up and spend most of my life in a big city, the idea of going to the mountain was not appealing to me.  I tried to find good reason not to join the trip but unfortunately my boss did not agree with me and he insisted that I should go.

On the appointed date, we left Jakarta for mount Bromo as a group of 140 people. We stayed at one of Bromo resort hotels which is located around 1700 meters above sea level. The temperature was quite cold. The next day, we had to wake up at 3 am to get ready to climb the mountain to be able to watch the sun which rises at around 5 am. Here is the view of the sunrise at mount Bromo:

Enough about  mount Bromo because it was not my intention to switch topic from cooking to tourism.

During I was in Bromo, one thing which captured my attention was one of the famous dishes of East Java named Rawon (Dark Beef Soup),

Rawon is a spe­cial dark beef soup cooked with keluak (fruits of kepayang). The spe­cial dark color of  rawon comes from keluak as the main spice. Keluak is a dark brown nut from Indonesia about the size and shape of a flattened golf ball. Before cooking, the content of the nuts is  white in color. Good nuts after cooking, should be richly dark and oily, with the contents variously described as “opium” or “soft tar”. The nuts come from the Pangium edule or “Kepayang” tree, which grows wild in Indonesia and parts of Malaysia.

My mom came from one of the cities in East Java so since I was a kid I have been exposed to this authentic dark beef soup. My mom cooked very delicious Rawon and she always served it warm to eat with steam rice, boiled salted egg, beansprout sambal and shrimp-crackers. It’s so yummy ……..

When I arrived back home, I tried to find my mom’s old recipe of Rawon and here is her version of Dark Beef Soup:


  • 500 g beef
  • 1 liter water
  • 6 shallots
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 roasted tamarind
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 keluaks (fruits of kepayang)
  • 1 piece (around1 cm) of turmeric
  • 1 piece (around1 cm) of  galangal
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • Direc­tions:

    1. Clean the beef and boil it in the water in a saucepan until almost tender
    2. Remove the beef from the saucepan and cut into small cubes.
    3. Grind all spices except lemongrass and galan­gal then sauté at medium tem­per­a­ture.
    4. Put the spice into the boil­ing beef stock in the saucepan
    5. Add lemongrass and galan­gal
    6. Put back the beef cubes into the saucepan
    7. Cook through until the beef is really tender

    To make the Bean Sprouts Sambal

    • Ingredients: 3 red chillies, 5 g of roasted shrimp-paste, pinch of salt and a cup of short beansprout
    • Grind the red chillies, roasted shrimp-paste, and salt, then add the bean sprouts. Mix well


  • Rice
  • Sam­bal taoge (bean sprouts sambal)
  • Boiled salted eggs
  • Fried shrimp crackers
  • Serve Rawon warm with steam  rice, salted egg,  bean sprouts sam­bal, fried shrimp crackers and then Go Tell It On The Mountain 🙂 .


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