If you’re a bit of a foodie and heading on an Indonesia holiday, you’re certainly in for a treat! Indonesian cuisine is very diverse and tends to vary quite a bit from region to region. As with many other Asian countries, one of the most significant and staple ingredients in Indonesia is rice. With a fundamental role in Indonesian culture, rice is not only an important accompaniment for many meals, but it also forms the contours of much of Indonesia’s rural landscapes.
Whilst most Indonesian dishes are influenced by other Asian cultures, some of the national dishes include ‘nasi goreng’ (stir-fried rice with soy sauce, vegetables and egg), ‘gado-gado’ (a vegetable salad dish served in a rich peanut sauce) and ‘satay;’ which originated in Java and has become an increasingly popular delicacy in Indonesia as well as in other parts of the world. You’ll find most of these national dishes wherever you go in Indonesia; from travelling street vendors and traditional food festivals, to swanky restaurants and even rural villages where the locals put their own stamp on classic national delights.
Typical ingredients that are often used in Indonesian cooking include tamarind juice, coconut milk, lime, chillis, kemiri (or candle nut) and lemongrass. If you’re feeling inspired and fancy putting your culinary skills to use in the run up to your Indonesia trip, here are some of my favourites that you might like to try out for yourself:
Rendang: Now a popular dish served across the country, Rendang once originated from one of Indonesia’s ethnic groups, the Minangkabu, and is predominantly made from beef and cooked in spices and coconut milk.
Sambal: Often served as a side dish, Sambal is characteristically made from hot chillis, so if you’re not keen on spicy cuisine – beware! The great thing about food in Indonesia is that the same dish can taste completely different depending on your location, and this certainly true for the Sambal as lots of adaptations of this dish exist in Indonesia.
Soto: This is a traditional soup with a host of ingredients including meat (such as chicken or beef), vegetables and broth and is typically served with a side dish of rice (a trusty favourite). Similarly to many other Indonesian meals, Soto has a number of regional influences.
Nasi Goreng: Whether it’s eaten on its own or as part of a bigger meal, this has to be one of the simplest and most popular Indonesian dishes and can be found almost anywhere in the country. The main ingredients are usually (you guessed it) rice, vegetables, meat (this can differ depending on local delicacies or recipes), peanuts and eggs.