Laksa

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Laksa
Chicken curry served in an Indonesian restaurant; February 2010.jpg
Serving a bowl of Betawi laksa in Australia
Alternative names
CourseMain course
Place of originPersia[1]
Region or stateAsia
Created byPersian (originally); now also made by people all over the world
Serving temperatureWarm; hot
Main ingredientsnoodle (or pasta), soup (varies)

Laksa is a noodle dish from Persia.[1] It usually has gravy and usually contains side dishes.

From Persia, this dish was brought by Persians throughout the world (mainly related to trading activities). Then developed into many variants (but have the same essential).

In Afghanistan this dish known as Lakhchak, in Armenia called as Լապշա (Lapsha), in Belarus called локшына (Lokšyna), in Kazakhstan called лағман (Lağman), in Kyrgystan called лагман (Lagman), in Lithuania called Lakštiniai, in Palestine (also known as Israel) called לאָקשן (Lokshen/Lokshyn),[a] in Mongolia called лапша (Lapsha), in Myanmar called ခေါက်ဆွဲ (Lakhaoswè/Khaoswè), in Russia called лапша (Lapsha), in western China called لەڭمەن (Lagmen),[b] in Ukraine called локшина (Lokshyna), meanwhile in Uzbekistan called as Lagʻmon.

History[change | change source]

Map of the territories of the Persian Empire; the area where Laksa first developed

The history of the emergence and development of Laksa cannot be separated from the history of the glorious Persian Empire which once ruled most of West Asia and Central Asia.

Terminology[change | change source]

The term Laksa etymologically derived from Old Persian, which means "slippery";[1] refers to the texture of laksa which is chewy and slippery when eaten because this dish is usually served with soup.

Following the pattern of terminology, the term Laksa is undoubtedly originated from Persia and its surroundings (which also includes Sanskrit-speaking areas), this is evidenced by the discovery of the term Laksa in various indigenous languages around the Persian region; in Afghanistan this dish known as Lakhchak, in Armenia called as Լապշա (Lapsha), in Belarus called локшына (Lokšyna), in Kazakhstan called лағман (Lağman), in Kyrgystan called лагман (Lagman), in Lithuania called Lakštiniai, in Palestine (also known as Israel) called לאָקשן (Lokshen/Lokshyn),[a] in Mongolia called лапша (Lapsha), in Russia called лапша (Lapsha), in western China called لەڭمەن (Lagmen),[b] in Ukraine called локшина (Lokshyna), meanwhile in Uzbekistan called as Lagʻmon. Even the term Lasagna in Italy also thought to have come from the same etymological root; i.e. from Ancient Persia (introduced to Italy from Persia via Greek, in Greece itself it is called λαζάνια (Lazánia)).

In the modern era, Laksa in Iran now tends to be better known as aush, āshasheāsheaash, osh; the term "aush" specifically means "thick soup" in Iranian languages. However, the usage of the term "Laksa" is still common.

Introduced to Indonesia[change | change source]

It is not exactly known when Laksa was introduced to Indonesia, but it is likely that Laksa was brought and introduced by the Persian (or Indians or Arabs; or Persians via India or Yemen) traders who came to Indonesia hundred thousands of years ago, and in the 1300s this dish was already widely known by the Javanese people.

Based on the narrative of Denys Lombard (expert of eastern customs and traditions) in his book entitled Le carrefour Javanais: Essai d'histoire globale II, one of the ancient records that alludes to Laksa (as a noodle dish) can only be found in the Old Javanese Biluluk inscription dating back to 1391 era of Majapahit empire which mentions the word Haṅlaksa (modern spelling: Hanglaksa),[2][3] which those Old Javanese word means "noodles/vermicilli maker".[4] Those Old Javanese word is thought to have been taken from the Sanskrit, namely लक्ष (Lakhshah) which means "one hundred thousand", although this Sanskrit word does not have any indication of any connection with the noodle dish in general; however the "-shah" at the end of the word indicates that this word was most likely influenced by the Old Persian terminology.

Variety[change | change source]

One of the original Persian Laksa variants

There are different types of Laksa developed all over the world. However, all these variants essentially have the same essence; which is a noodle dish (or pasta) which is usually served with a variety of sauces with various fillings.  

In Indonesia[change | change source]

In Indonesia, there are many kinds of Laksa. They were made following the local tastes and culinary traditions of the local community. Among the popular Indonesian Laksa variants are:

Banjar laksa[change | change source]

A plate of Banjar laksa

Banjar laksa has different appearance from laksa in general, the laksa noodles in Banjar laksa are usually unraveled, but woven together to form a roll-like unit. For the soup, Banjar laksa usually uses a mixture of local fish that has gone through a refining process first.[5] Various special spices (formerly imported from the Maluku Islands) are also mixed together with coconut milk. The soup color of Banjar laksa sauce usually tends to be orange in color because it also contains a little mixture of Habang Sambal (a type of Sambal typical of Banjarmasin).[5]

Bogor laksa[change | change source]

A bowl of Bogor Laksa

 

The Bogor laksa is characterized by the prominent usage of Oncom (a Sundanese vegan food similar to Tempeh) which usually grilled first. It is also sometimes eaten with Ketupat (Javanese rice cake) or Perkedel (Javanese potato patty) as a complement to the dish.[6] The broth of Bogor laksa usually uses a mixture of various special spices mixed together with coconut milk.[6] The color of Bogor laksa soup usually tends to be greenish yellow.[6]

Betawi laksa[change | change source]

A bowl of Betawi laksa

Based on its history, the Betawi Laksa is actually a developed version of Cibinong laksa. It was originally developed in the Cibinong district of Bogor Regency. However, the Betawi Laksa variation is becoming more popular than its predecessor due to getting greater exposure. In 1988, Betawi laksa was named as one of the winners of the Betawi Food Festival at the 26th anniversary celebration of the Hotel Indonesia in Jakarta.[7]

In Singapore[change | change source]

The variants of Laksa in Singapore usually have Chinese influence, one of the popular Singaporean Laksa variants is the one from the Katong district.

Katong laksa[change | change source]

A bowl of Katong laksa

The Katong laksa originally developed to popularize the Katong district as recreational place. After the official visit of President Tony Tan Keng Yam in 2013 to Katong district, the popularity of Katong laksa started to grow and reach international audience.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Vaughan, Blanche; Metcalfe, Julian (2016). Itsu 20-minute Suppers: Quick, Simple & Delicious Noodles, Grains, Rice, & Soups. Octopus. ISBN 9781784721800. In fact, the word "laksa" derived from an ancient Persian word for noodles, "lakhsha", meaning slippery.
  2. Yamin, Muhammad (1962). Tatanegara Madjapahit [Majapahit State System] (in Indonesian and Kawi). Vol. 2. Prapantja.
  3. Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië (1912). Oudheidkundig Verslag [Archaeological Report] (in Dutch).
  4. Lombard, Denys (1996). Nusa Java: Réseau Asiatique (in French and English). University of Michigan.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Sedapnya Kuah Laksa Khas Banjar Bercampur Daging Ikan Gabus" [Delicious Banjar Laksa Sauce Mixed with Cork Fish]. Banjarmasin TribunNews (in Indonesian). TribunNews Network.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Batarfie, Balqies (2016). 34 Resep Langka Masakan Bogor Tempo Doeloe [34 Rare Recipes for Classical Bogor Cuisine] (in Indonesian). Gramedia Pustaka Utama. ISBN 9786020322513.
  7. Indonesia Magazine (in English and Indonesian). Vol. 26. Michigan: Yayasan Harapan Kita. 1995.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 usually associated with Jewish culinary
  2. 2.0 2.1 usually associated with Uyghur culinary