Ms. Atisa’s kitchen is a new kitchen project established by three Indonesian women – Ratu Lestari, Amelina Nurikka, and Lismita Yelohim. They live in different cities around Indonesia, and come together to share their visions about food, the environment, and living a healthy lifestyle. Their mini meal prep videos are perfect for healthy eating inspiration, and detail easy steps to creating plant-based meals and snacks with an Indonesian twist.
We caught up with Ratu to learn more about the work of these three women trying to make a difference …
1. Hi Ratu! What inspired you ladies to get together and start your own blog?
We’d been planning to make the blog together for quite a while! After graduating from college, we wanted to stay connected and share our thoughts, and this was a great way of doing it. Last December, I decided to start my own YouTube channel and when Lismita came home, we decided to make a blog about it – it just started evolving.
2. Where did the name Ms. Atisa’s kitchen come from?
Atisa is my middle name and the kitchen is where everything started for me. It’s not only the place for making food, but also a place to prepare every idea, thought and feeling.
3. With meat regularly featuring as a staple in a lot of Asian diets, what has been the reaction to your blog/recipes from family and friends?
Surprisingly they like it! They’ve said the recipes inspire them to eat the a healthier diet. Sometimes they ask if they can add meat or fish or dairy to it. I believe dietary choices are a very personal thing, so I don’t mind. I only ask that that to use the recipe as it is first and then they can decide whether they still want to add other things to it.
4. How easy is it for budget travellers to live on a vegan diet whilst in Indonesia?
It’s easy, but can seem a bit tricky sometimes. Some of the easiest things to find in Indonesia are Gado-Gado, stir fry veggies, Nasi Goreng, tempe and tofu. They’re everywhere and relatively cheap. However, sometimes they still add eggs as an ingredient. Items such as bread can catch you out. You should always ask.
I currently live in Ubud, where you can find so many vegan/vegetarian restaurants – my favourite restaurants are Moksa, Alchemy, Clear cafe, and Sayuri. There’s also plenty of budget restaurants/cafes here as well, we call them Warung Nasi (the Indonesian term for a small local restaurant). Small stall often advertise Gado-Gado or Nasi Goreng with signs in front of them.
5. Besides good food, how else to make sure you’re taking care of your bodies?
Our mind and body are always connected to each other. As well as exercising at least 5 times a week, I also meditate every morning. I believe it’s important to have not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.
6. Where do you get your inspiration for your vegan recipes?
The inspiration for the recipes from everywhere! Sometimes it’ll go like this – I’ll think about what I want to eat and then I’ll go search for a recipe base for the ingredient. From there, i’ll try to make some adjustment from it. It can also from something that I saw in restaurant or café, and I’ll change it into a vegan version. It can also come from simply looking at traditional Indonesian recipes.
7. One of your blog posts discusses the fact that you found European countries much better at limiting their use of plastic in comparison to Asian ones. Why do you think this is the case?
There are a couple of factors: low economic status and low education level. These factors go hand in hand with each other. If you’re poor, then you can’t get a higher education. As a result, you won’t build knowledge about the effect that using plastic excessively has on the environment – and how to reduce, reuse, or recycle it. It’s also worth noting that plastic is cheaper and easier to find, compared to degradable materials. If you don’t have money, your instinct will be to buy the cheapest one. For example, in Indonesia, there are some biodegradable and eco-friendly products, but they are still expensive, so not so many people want to buy them. They’re bought only by people who really care about the environment and don’t mind spending their money on it. In Europe, the economic and education level is way higher than here, so (of course) they are more aware of ecological problems and have better developed solutions. In Germany for example, they have machines to collect plastic bottles and you even get money for returning them. Meanwhile, here, people are still thinking how to get food for tomorrow! They aren’t thinking as much about other problems like reducing plastic. Of course, I’m speaking in general, there are some people here that are taking action (especially where there is good access to education and in the big cities). I’m in Koh Tao, Thailand, right now and I’ve met a Thai woman who really cares about the plastic issue here. She has becomes an activist against the using of plastic in Thailand. There’s still a lot of work to be done, some people still don’t care about it and think it’s impossible to not use plastic.
8. In your ‘Reducing Waste’ post you discuss the impact of plastic straws. Do you have any favourite alternatives for travellers?
In my opinion, you don’t really need a straw for drinking, you can still enjoy your drink without straws! I’ve seen this great video about these people surviving without straws. If you enjoy drinking with a straw, it’s better to bring our own bamboo/stainless steel/glass straws anywhere we go. If you think bringing your own straws is too complicated, just simply say, “No straw, please”, anywhere you want to have a drink. It really helps 🙂 We also use bamboo straws!
9. What’s next for you?
For the long-term goal, we would like to make an eco-friendly and natural bulk store in Bali and have our own eco-friendly products. We’re still working on it, hopefully, we can make it happen soon! If anyone is visiting Bali, we’d been happy to meet them, and they can contact us via our Facebook, Instagram, or email.