1st July 2008 | 09:00 AET
The people of the Arona community have been living together since the 1930's in Indonesia. When Indonesia became independent from the Dutch colonial rule, a lot of people left - some returning to Holland, others heading for America and Australia. This group began in Sydney in the early 60s, settling in North Queensland in 1971. They regularly prepare a group meal, following the rijstafel tradition.
Rijstafel dates back to colonial times -coming from the Dutch words for rice and table. It was a refinement of the Indonesian way of eating small dishes with rice to creating a massive spread, of up to 100 dishes, to offer to the colonial rulers or among the sultans themselves to show off their wealth. White rice was accompanied by a series of meat, fish, egg and vegetable dishes plus spicy sambals, displayed on elaborate Indonesian silver art work.
For the Arona rijstafel, 18 dishes are prepared, including beef rendang, pork satay with peanut sauce, fried marinated chicken (ayam goreng), sambal udang (chilli prawns), lombok isi (chilli stuffed with mince), bumbu bali telor (eggs in chilli sambal), serundeng (fried coconut with spices and peanuts) and gado gado. Accompaniments include tempe (fermented tofu) in a spicy sauce, pickled vegetables or atjar kuning, deep-fried bananas (pisang goreng), cucumber wedges (ketimoen) and krupuk (prawn crackers).
Many of the dishes come from the regional Padang cuisine, famous for dishes like rendang. Padang food is served in small portions, usually as a series of dishes and customers are billed at the end of their meal for the number of dishes consumed (a bit like an Indonesian yum cha!)
Pork satay with peanut sauce