Coconuts in Raja Ampat – Delicious and Versatile

  • August 20, 2020

‘Pohon kelapa’, or coconut trees, are something that grows in abundance on Gam island in Raja Ampat, where our Papua Explorers Eco Resort is located. The high canopies of the trees offer us shade, and even the sight of a coconut tree reminds us daily, how blessed we are to live in this tropical paradise. Coconut trees and their fruit are also very useful and versatile. Here we give you some insight of how people make use of them in Raja Ampat and Indonesia. You can also learn which delicious Indonesian dishes contain coconut.

the tops of three palm trees with blue sky background in Raja Ampat

Coconut tree canopy at Papua Explorers Eco Resort

Coconut Trees in Raja Ampat and at Papua Explorers

The local villagers of Raja Ampat traditionally grow coconut trees to mark their property. If you see a line of coconut trees on a stretch of land or beach, then you know for sure that it belongs to someone. When we first rented our land, we were asked to buy off all the productive trees that are within our compound. This way we automatically got permission to harvest its fruits. And we do so regularly, not only for pleasure, but also for safety. By pruning the trees and fruits regularly, we make sure our guest and staff stay safe, while enjoying a stroll on our tropical resort premises.

Papua Explorers staff member pruning on of the ripe coconut from a tree on the resort premises

The process of pruning the coconut trees

On average, every coconut tree produces around 10 to 20 coconuts per month, depending on type of soil and level of humidity, among others. In between other tropical flora, we have around a dozen of coconut trees, and some of them are productive.

a young coconut being opened with a machete

Opening a coconut, the traditional way with a machete – here in Indonesia we call it ‘parang’. Papua Explorers Raja Ampat

Uses of the Coconut Plant

Every part of a coconut tree can be used:

  • from its roots (as parts of a building foundation),
  • its stems (called kayu glugu or glugu wood for wooden planks),
  • the leaves (roofing material when dried, or made into decorations when fresh),
  • stalks (becomes sapu lidi, or a broom stick),
  • its flowers (as part of a food dish),
  • the husk (as floor mats for example),
  • its shell (as water containers),
  • the oil (health supplement or ointment),
  • and of course you can enjoy, the best part, the coconut fruit and juice as refreshment.

This tree is such an all-rounder!

bottle of coconut oil and a glass with coconut drink at Papua Explorers Eco Resort in Raja Ampat

Virgin coconut oil as health supplement (left) and a delicious coconut drink (right). Papua Explorers Eco Resort in Raja Ampat

Dishes with Coconut

In Indonesia, we incorporate coconuts into many delicious local dishes, namely:

1. Rendang

The famous Rendang originates from Minangkabau, the northern part of Sumatra Island. It is cooked with beef, coconut milk, herbs and spices over low heat for hours until the color turns dark, the meat tender and totally infused with the sauces. At room temperature, rendang can last for weeks. This is why many Indonesian travelers will bring rendang for their emergency rations. Gordon Ramsey recently did a National Geographic segment on Rendang. There he also mentioned that he plans to incorporate the dish into one of his restaurant’s menu.

two chefs cooking the Indonesian Rendang dish, the right side of the photo showing the finished dish

Gordon Ramsey cooking rendang with Indonesian Chef William Wongso. Photo credit: National Geographic/Justin Mandel (left), Kompas.com (right).

2. Urap

Urap is an Indonesian salad made with steamed vegetables mixed with grated dry coconut meat and spices. It originates from the island of Java and as it doesn’t contain any meat product. Therefore it is a good option as a vegetarian dish.

Urap or Urab is an Indonesian vegetable salad in spicy shredded coconut dressing.

Urap or Urab is an Indonesian vegetable salad in spicy shredded coconut dressing.

3. Klappetaart

This sweet dessert became popular from Manado city (Island of Sulawesi) and has been around since the Dutch occupation. The Dutch words Klappe means coconut and Taart means cake. Locals make it from the flesh of coconuts, milk, sugar, flour and butter. It is for sure a sinful delight!

Klappetaart, a coconut cake prepared by our chef at Papua Explorers in Raja Ampat

Klappetaart, Papua Explorers Raja Ampat

4. Klepon / Onde-Onde

Klepon (Java) or also Onde-Onde (Sumatra, Sulawesi) is a traditional Indonesian snack from glutenous rice flour with the shape of small balls. It is filled with brown sugar and boiled in hot water. The cooked klepon are then rolled over grated coconut. When you bite into it, a good klepon will have the molten brown sugar burst into your mouth. Yummy!

Klepon is a sweet snack made with coconut and can be enjoyed at Papua Explorers in Raja Ampat

Klepon Sweet Snack from Coconut, Papua Explorers Raja Ampat

5. Es Kelapa Muda

Es Kelapa Muda or young coconut juice is a popular drink in Indonesia where you just cut open a young coconut. Then you can drink the coconut water inside and scrape the flesh with a spoon. Other variations would be to add for example lemon or orange juice, syrup or liquid brown sugar. Alternatively you can add condensed milk, nata de coco, or even other fruits to make fruit cocktail. Either way, it sure will be refreshing on a hot, sunny day.

coconuts, a glass with coconut drink and flower decoration by Papua Explorers Eco Resort Raja Ampat

Delicious Coconut Drink, Papua Explorers Raja Ampat

Enjoy Coconuts at Papua Explorers Resort in Raja Ampat

There are so many other dishes, drinks or products that can be made from coconuts. It would take pages and pages to cover them all. Needless to say, it’s certainly a jack-of-all-trades kind of fruit! So we are lucky to have them readily available on our doorstep. Come visit us at Papua Explorers, try out some of the tasty dishes above, and have a delicious coconut drink!

Papua Explorers staff member happily presenting young coconut drink with our water bungalows in the background

Our happy staff member presenting a young coconut in front of our water bungalows. We look forward to welcoming you at Papua Explorers Eco Resort in Raja Ampat!

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