Most Indonesians are Muslim and consume no liquor or pork. The islands of Indonesia offer a variety of cuisines to suit a wide variety of tastes. Food and cooking styles differ between islands and regions.
Fresh fruit is a staple of the diet found in Indonesia and East Java is known as the “Fruit Bowl”. Coconuts, apples, avocados, mandarins, lemons, bananas, mangos and pineapples are among the favorites and are eaten raw or in desserts, or made into drinks or snacks. Rice is also an important ingredient in many dishes. Indonesia is known world wide as the “Spice Islands” and the use of many spices has played a big role in shaping the nation’s culinary identity.
Although each island has its own specialties, there are many dishes that are popular across the country. They include:
Nasi Goreng is a traditional fried rice made with kecap manis (a thick soy sauce) served with a fried egg, some crispy fish crackers, and a small side salad. Some places serve this with a few skewers of chicken satay or fried chicken. this is fried rice that is sometimes served just as an accompaniment or can also be served as a one-pot dish with spice, eggs, vegetables, meat and seafood.
This noodle dish is made up of thin yellow egg noodles stir-fried with a variety of vegetables. You can have it with chicken or tofu-it’s really up to you. Similar to Nasi Goreng, you can get this dish almost everywhere from cheap warungs to big restaurants.
A salad made up of boiled potatoes, eggs, carrots, green beans, and tofu served with a hefty serving of peanut sauce. A mixed vegetable and tofu salad that is covered in a peanut sauce dressing.
Rendang is a made from a mixture of coconut milk cooked in with lots of spices, giving it that rich and spicy flavor. It is often made with beef but you also have other variations such as chicken, mutton, or goat.
Ikan pangang: a whole broiled fish is marinated and basted with spices, coconut, and chili, lime, ginger and is usually served with a sauce accompaniment.
Satay / Sate: this is a marinated and skewered meat or fish dish that is either grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire. It is then served with spicy seasonings.
Vegetarians will have plenty to choose from when looking for a good square meal, with tofu, jackfruit, and tempe frequently used in curries, noodles, and rice dishes, and plenty of side-dish fried delights as well.
“Sambal,” a chili sauce that sits on the table for most meals, allows you to adjust the heat of your food and is great for dipping “krupuk” and “emping,” traditional Indonesian crackers.
Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, Indonesian food isn’t that well known. To help you figure out what to try during your visit to Indonesia.
Tea or Teh is a favorite drink amongst Indonesians. “Teh manis” is a sweet tea that is quite common in most homes. Popular variations include Jasmine and green tea. Coffee, or “Kopi” is also popular with kopi tubruk being a hot, sugary coffee. Wine and other alcoholic beverages are not particularly in demand in Indonesia as it is a predominately Muslim country, however they are available.
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