Padang and its harbor Emma Haven with a population of more than 1,000,000 people is the largest city and the capital of west Sumatra. From the 16th century on Padang was a trade center and in 1663 the city came under the Dutch authorities, who built a trading post n 1680.
The main trade product was gold, but when the mines were exhausted, other products like textiles, coffee and salt became important. Later on copra became also an important trade product produced by farmers. Also the development of the Ombilin coal mine and field in Sawah Lunto had Padang as its outlet and was an economic improvement to the city Padang as well as the province of west Sumatra.
The cuisine of the Minangkabau people is given the name of their capital Padang food. Padang restaurants are now common throughout the country and are famous for their spicy food. Padang food is served in small portions of various dishes, but constituting, with rice, a complete meal.
Customers take only what they want from this array of dishes. The best known Padang dish is randang Padang, a spicy meat stew, often cooked for 6 to 8 hours in a mixture of coconut milk and several spices.
The liquid has to evaporate fully and the spices and meat are nearly dry and black/brown. Other well-known dishes are soto Padang, beef in spicy soup, sate Padang in a curry rich sauce with ketupat, sambal idju, a chili condiment and Gulai Tunjang, gulai of the cow foot tendons.
The biggest different between the food from Padang and the other islands is not only the hot spices but also the use of sugars, which you will find on most of the other towns and island of Indonesia. Especially the people of Java like to add sugar to their dishes, but not the dishes from the Minang people.
Claire Elisabeth Chevalier, my mother, was born in this city on 3-22-1915. Her father Cezar Chevalier and her mother Jacqueline Beljaars were very successfull and built up many businesses like a hotel, restaurant and a car business.