Gastronomic ethnobiology of “terites”—a traditional Batak Karo medicinal food: A ruminant's stomach content as a human food resource

Endang C. Purba, Marina Silalahi, Nisyawati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Terites is a traditional food of Batak Karo ethnic group, which is cooked with a juice of partly digested food (chyme) of slaughtered cattle. The stomach juice serves as a soup base, cooked together with certain wild and cultivated vegetables, aromatic herbs and possibly also meat. The objectives of this ethnobiological study were to describe terites preparation, document plant species used and to discuss possible implications for the human nutrition. Methods: The data were gathered through individual interviews and group discussions with informants from 6 villages in Karo regency of North Sumatra. The plant specimens were collected in the field and identified taxonomically. Results: A total of 29 plant species belonging to 17 families were used to prepare terites. The main rationale behind consuming this indigenous food was its perceived medicinal value, particularly for the treatment of digestive disorders. Karo people use several lesser-known wild food plants for preparation of this local specialty. To best of our knowledge, consumption of chyme in tropical Asia is so far unique solely to the Batak Karo people. The present ethnographic record of consuming chyme as a medicinal food is also discussed in the context of paleodietary reconstructions. Conclusion: This extraordinary food heritage of Karo indigenous gastronomy, based on traditional knowledge, indicates rich foodscapes and bio-cultural diversity of the Batak Karo ethnic group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ethnic Foods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Biocultural heritage
  • Ethnobotany
  • Stomach content
  • Traditional food
  • Wild edible plants


Dive into the research topics of 'Gastronomic ethnobiology of “terites”—a traditional Batak Karo medicinal food: A ruminant's stomach content as a human food resource'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this