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Nusantara Cuisine:Food That Transcends Southeast Asia's Borders

What is Nusantara?

Nusantara in old Javanese terms literally means “outer islands”, the maritime name of Southeast Asia. In the Indonesian or Malay language, it is often translated as ‘archipelago’.

Back then, the areas were divided into countries and the Malay archipelago was from Southern Thailand to West Papua consisting of thousands of islands and kingdoms.

Nusantara in today’s language includes Malay-related cultural and linguistic land, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Southern Thailand, the Philippines, East Timor and Taiwan.

The Food Story of Nusantara

The region of the greater Southeast Asia maritime goes way back from the prehistoric era. It started with the Austronesian diaspora where Austronesian (Taiwanese indigenous people) migrated to the archipelago from the north.

Over 2,000 years ago, there were vast independent kingdoms exporting spices, silk and other luxury goods to the Chinese dynastic empires. One of the biggest kingdoms in the 3rd century was the Srivijaya Empire. By the 8th century after merging and taking over the neighbouring kingdoms, they controlled the main straits of Malacca and Sumba.