Bekal Dari Ibu (literally translates as ‘victual from mother’) is one of a few brands that specialize in authentic Indonesian traditional cakes and finger food. Its outlets can be found at premium malls – cake shops that specialize in Indonesian traditional snacks are still something of a rarity at premium malls.

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From its humble beginnings in March 2014 when the products were sold via Instagram only, Bekal Dari Ibu has expanded into four outlets, including at the high-end Pacific Place mall.

The idea of Bekal Dari Ibu was conceived by founders Paulina (Pungky) Purnomowati and her cousin Marina Oceanty to keep their mothers busy after the passing of their loved ones who had long suffered from illness. Pungky’s mother was a busy career woman who quit her job to take care her beloved husband for 15 years, while Marina’s mother took care her much-loved ailing mother for three years. One month after the passing of Pungky’s father in October 2013, Marina’s grandmother passed away.

Pungky and Marina wanted to help their mothers through their immense grieving process by keeping them busy and channel their passionate caring for their loved ones into a business of providing delicious home-made food; just like the food prepared by mothers for their children.

In the beginning, in March 2014, the company was run by Pungky, Marina, their mothers and a friend of Pungky’s; it was indeed a bootstrap business run only by a small group of people. Some of Pungky’s relatives, including Marina’s mother, made the cakes and finger food, while Pungky’s mother focused on the day-to-day operations of the business. Marketed on Instagram only, it had no brick-and-mortar space. After a while, Bekal Dari Ibu turned into a fast-growing business.

In November 2014, they opened their first brick-and-mortar space at Kota Kasablanka mall, while another one was opened at Pacific Place mall in the following week. Today, Bekal Dari Ibu has expanded to multiple locations, namely Pondok Indah Mall 2, 18 Office Park building and Terminal 3 Ultimate at Soekarno Hatta Airport (currently the goods are sold on a food cart only at the airport, however, a large store –the largest among Bekal Dari Ibu’s outlets– will be opened by the end of this year at Terminal 3 Ultimate).

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Using recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, Bekal Dari Ibu offers savoury snacks as well as kue basah (Indonesian steamed cakes) classified as sweet treats; thus, there is something for everyone’s taste.

On the savoury side, there are lalampa (steamed glutinous rice filled with shredded seasoned skipjack fish and chillies, wrapped in a banana leaf) and bakwan udang (Indonesian-style shrimp fritter) among the snacks on offer. As for the sweet treats, klepon (glutinous rice ball, stuffed with melted brown sugar, sprinkled with grated coconut), talam singkong (steamed cassava cake) and cucur (fried sweets made of rice flour and brown sugar) are must-try items for those with a sweet tooth.

“Every day, our preservative-free products are made at dawn to guarantee freshness. We do not sell leftover cakes and finger food, despite the fact that food waste adds costs to our business,” says Pungky.

Bekal Dari Ibu also carries a selection of homemade cookies, including Dutch-influenced ones, such as speculaas (Dutch spiced biscuits, made with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and palm sugar). The cookies are priced between Rp 75,000 and Rp 135,000 per box / per jar.

Due to increasing demand and new offers on the menu, this brand currently has to outsource its goods – however, Bekal Dari Ibu’s core products, such as a variety of fried bananas and various Indonesian sponge cakes are still made in-house. Nevertheless, Bekal Dari Ibu plans to improve its kitchen facilities, hence in the future, all products will be 100% made in-house from scratch, so that Pungky and her team can control the quality of their goods at every stage.

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“Initially, we offered about 25 items, currently we have approximately 40 products that we rotate daily; except for our signature food, pisang karamel, which is available everyday,” says Pungky.

The delicious original pisang karamel (crunchy caramelized fried banana) is the brand’s best-selling product. Besides the original pisang karamel, there are other variants of caramelized fried bananas on offer, namely pisang karamel oreo, pisang karamel ovomaltine, pisang karamel srikaya and pisang karamel speculaas, which cost between Rp 6,000 and Rp 8,000 each.

Pungky who already has experience in luxury retail work (she was the brand manager of Chanel in Indonesia and the brand director of TOD’s in Indonesia) always emphasises the importance of taste and beautiful packaging as well as the atmosphere of the shops.

As she believes that great packaging design is essential to her brand’s success, everything –from the logo to the lovely boxes and bags– is well thought out. A silhouette of a mother serves as the logo of the brand. Thus, those who want to give traditional Indonesian snacks as a lavish gift to their family or friends should put Bekal Dari Ibu on their shopping list.

This brand, with its friendly shop assistants and aesthetically pleasing outlets that resemble a beautiful homey kitchen, aims to give its clientele the feeling of buying premium goods (Bekal Dari Ibu’s products carry premium price tags – priced between Rp 6,000 and Rp 15,000, the cakes and finger foods are on the expensive side for Indonesian snacks).

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Speaking of aesthetically pleasing shops, I was, indeed, impressed by Bekal Dari Ibu’s previous outlet in Pacific Place mall, which was located on the 4th floor; it has since moved to level B1, at the “tunnel” which connects Pacific Place mall and Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) building. Even though the new outlet is not as impressive as the old one due to the limited space available, Pungky said that the sales volume has increased since they moved to the new location, as it drives big-time traffic, targeting the employees who work at IDX building; they will pass this “tunnel” whenever they want to go to Pacific Place.

In fact, purchases from local office workers  – including requests to supply food for their company events – is the main source of income. Nowadays, 80% of its overall revenue comes from office workers – one of Bekal Dari Ibu’s other outlets is located at 18 Office Park building.

Bekal Dari Ibu’s outlet at Kota Kasablanka mall has been closed down, but the new ones at other locations, such as Setiabudi Building and fX Sudirman, will be opened soon. As said by Pungky, being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs – it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get it to the stage where it is today.

The progress has been encouraging, but there is still a long way to go; in the meantime, Bekal Dari Ibu (victual from mother) will keep feeding Indonesians, who are nostalgic for the cakes and finger food of yesteryear (surely, foreigners are welcome to taste those tasty little treats, too!).

Bekal Dari Ibu’s finger food & cakes are available at:
Pacific Place Mall (level B1, near Indonesia Stock Exchange)
18 Office Park (mezzanine floor)
Terminal 3 Ultimate (Soekarno-Hatta Airport)
Plaza Pondok Indah Mall 2 (inside Gigi Art of Dance).

Opening soon in October 2016:
Setiabudi Building and Eat & Eat at fX Sudirman (for more information, contact +62 812 1813 3709)
Instagram: @bekaldariibu
WhatsApp: +62 812 1813 3709 (you can pre-order the goods, which can be delivered to your home or office).

Susanna Tjokro

Susanna Tjokro

Susanna has written articles for various magazines and newspapers. She writes about up and coming retail brands in her column “Made in Indonesia” at NOW! Jakarta.