|Place of origin||Indonesia|
|Region or state||Yogyakarta, Central Java, East Java|
|Serving temperature||Room temperature|
|Main ingredients||Vegetables in peanut sauce|
The peanut sauce used in pecel is quite similar to those used in gado-gado, a similar Indonesian traditional salad with slightly different ingredients. Peanut sauce for pecel, however, contains no coconut milk. Pecel has been strongly associated with Javanese cuisine, while gado-gado is usually associated with Betawi and Sundanese cuisine.
Pecel can be homemade, but it is often sold in Javanese restaurants or in warung. It is also sold by Mbok bakul pecel, travelling pecel-selling women that carry pecel ingredients in woven bamboo baskets and frequent residential areas, marketplaces, or train stations to sell their wares. This travelling sales method is similar to Mbok jamu gendong, a method of selling jamu (a traditional medicine).
The simplicity of pecel preparation and its cheap price have contributed to its popularity throughout Java. It has become a food that represents practicality, simplicity, and travel, since the dish is often found along the train journey across Java.
Pecel comes from Java, but its exact origin is unknown. Vegetables smeared in sauce have been eaten in Java for centuries. Ary Budiyanto, an anthropologist of Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java, suggests that ancient texts used the term "pecel" to refer to food preparation by slathering or smearing a substance over the main ingredient. Later, the term came to refer to a type of dish of vegetables with sauce. The term "pecel" was mentioned in the manuscript of Sanghyang Siksakanda Ng Karesian, which was written in 1518, and was defined as a sauce served with chicken. Today, pecel sauce can be served with lawar (raw vegetables) or kuluban (cooked vegetables).
"Pecel" is also mentioned in Babad Tanah Jawi, composed around the 17th or 18th centuries, which suggest that the Javanese word "pecel" refers to the action of squeezing, since the boiled or blanched vegetables were squeezed by hand to separate them from the water.
Pecel consists of boiled or blanched water spinach, chinese amarath, bean sprouts, yardlong bean, cucumber, cassava leaf, and lemon basil, served with a sauce made from ground fried peanuts mixed with water, salt, palm sugar, tamarind juice, chili pepper, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, and garlic. Additional side dishes can be served with a pecel dish, such as fried tempeh or tofu, perkedel kentang, bakwan jagung (vegetables and corn fritters), crispy rempeyek peanut crackers, or krupuk.
The vegetables used in pecel vary, and the peanut sauce's recipe differs slightly between different regions in Java. Different pecel recepies can have different amounts of Kaffir lime leaf zest, galangal, palm sugar, or tamarind juice, leading to different flavors.
Today, pecel is often associated with Madiun and Ponorogo in East Java, since they have the most famous pecel variant, and also because sate Ponorogo uses the same kind of peanut sauce that is normally used in pecel. Nevertheless, pecel can now be found in most Javanese villages and cities.