Aru Islands is a regency in Maluku Province. Geographically, Aru Islands is actually closer to Papua and West Papua than to Ambon. This cluster of islands has its own unique culture, including culinary. One of the most stands out feature is the snacks from Aru Islands.
As with many islands in Maluku and East Indonesia, they really love their kenari (local walnut) in Aru. You can find staple East Indonesian food like Papeda here. However, traditional snacks from Aru Island might be a bit unheard of to most people. Here are some of them.
Bagea is a type of pastry. It has a crunchy texture and usually has a round shape with small cracks. The main ingredients of Bagea are sago flour, cinnamon, and kenari. Bagea is basically savory but there are several flavors you can try. However, there are three very popular flavors, namely Kenari, coconut, and plain sugar. This cake is very popular as a complimentary for tea or coffee time.
Just as the name suggests, this is a kenari-based snack. In western Indonesia, this type of snack is called ting-ting and is made from peanuts. In Aru, local nut (kenari) is the obvious choice. It is basically kenari swathed in a caramel. When cold, the caramel hardens, creating a crispy though sometimes chewy snack. Obviously, it tastes really sweet and savory.
This snack has nothing to do with the tufts used by cheerleaders. Instead, pom pom is a type of snacks from Aru made from sago. In other places in Indonesia, pompom is made from potato. Specifically, it is a kind of fried mashed potato with certain flavors. In Aru, they often add sago flour. There are three villages that commercially produce pom pom in Aru, namely Namara, Gulili, and Tabarfane Villages.
This cake is almost similar to bagea in many ways. The main difference is that sarut usually smaller with an elongated shape, instead of round. Also, this pastry is quite homogeneous in term of recipe and shape. Sarut only uses palm sugar as a sweetener as well as flavoring. This is a crunchy cake, there might be lots of crumbs if you are not careful while eating it.
As an archipelagic regency, Aru is actually also rich in seafood-based dishes. However, snacks from Aru takes the cake because it is really unique and delicious. The best thing is that most of the snacks here are good for souvenirs. Next