Indonesian cuisine is one of the most colorful and diverse not just in Asia but in the whole world. With 17,000 islands and 300 groups of people making up the country, with each of these groups bringing their own culinary traditions to the table, you’re sure to be off to a grand gastronomic adventure on your visit to Indonesia.
So, what dishes should you try on your Indonesian holiday? We have here ten of the best eats that you must taste on your trip to Indonesia.
All countries probably have their own version of fried chicken, and ayam goreng is Indonesia’s own. The difference between ayam goreng and your regular KFC fare, though, is the meat used in the Indonesian version comes from small, free-range village chickens. These fowl may be smaller but they’re more flavorful, especially after they’re marinated in garlic and shallots.
A popular Indonesian street food often sold from pushcarts, bakso is noodle soup with meatballs, wontons, fried shallots and boiled eggs. The meatballs can be made with chicken, pork or beef. If you ever find yourself starving while exploring the cities of Indonesia, just find a cart that sells bakso and you’ll have something tasty and slurp-worthy to fill up on.
Gado-gado, literally “mix-mix” is an assortment of veggies tossed together with peanut sauce. This salad often consists of long beans, tofu, tempe, bean sprouts, corn, spinach, cucumber and boiled eggs.
Martabak is Indonesian crepe. It’s available either as a savory or a sweet treat. The savory version is filled with egg and minced meats, served with sweet and sour vinegar and pickled cucumber on the side. The sweet version, on the other hand, can have peanuts, cheese and chocolate.
One of Indonesia’s most recognizable dishes, nasi goreng is fried rice with veggies and meat mixed in. What makes nasi goreng different from the fried rice of other cuisines is it’s coated with thick and sweet soy sauce.
Rendang, one of the many versions of curry in Indonesian cuisine, is a dish usually served on special occasions or when there are guests. It takes time and skill to cook rendang. You need to cook the beef in a spice mixture consisting of star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic, shallots and dried chili until the spices coat and infuse the beef itself. Rendang is often served dry or with a curry sauce.
At every meal you sit down to in Indonesia, you’re sure to find a small bowl of sambal on the table. Sambal is Indonesian chili sauce made with chilies, fish paste, sugar, salt, lime juice and shallots pounded and pureed together. Sometimes it is served with durian, mushrooms, or green mangoes. It is an essential element to most Indonesian dishes, and no meal is complete without it.
Satay is Indonesia’s take on the kebab. In cooking satay, the meat is marinated in turmeric and sweet soy sauce. Then it’s cooked over hot coals and then doused with peanut sauce. It smells as delicious as it tastes.
Read More: Bucket List to do in Indonesia
Indonesia’s version of the Chinese dim sum comes in the form of steamed fish dumplings served with steamed potatoes, cabbage, bitter gourd and eggs, along with a generous helping of peanut sauce. Another popular street food, you can find these sold from carts or vendors with steamers on their bicycles.
Soto is traditional Indonesian soup, often eaten as comfort food. Considered to be one of the country’s national dishes, soto has many regional versions. At its most basic, it’s meat and vegetables cooked in broth. The meat can be pork, chicken, beef, goat, tripe and organ meats. The broth can be clear or mixed with coconut milk. A wide variety of spices can be added to the soup, including turmeric, lemongrass, galangal, cloves, and star anise. It can be served with crackers, tofu, eggs, mashed potato patties and many other side dishes.
Is your mouth watering yet? Stop drooling and book your gastronomic holiday to Indonesia right now.