Indonesian food is the most flavorful on Earth, having historical influences from Dutch, Chinese, and Arabic interactions. It is no wonder that several dishes have gained international recognition. Although Indonesian cuisine basically includes rice and noodle, it varies in unique yet attractive ways. Each region has its own characteristic; Sumatra with curry, Java with sweet delicacies, and Maluku with sago congee and seafood. To address your curiosity, you should try the following 10 best Indonesian foods.
1. Beef rendang
Beef rendang was once recognized as the best delicious food in the word by CNN in 2011. It’s a beef-based dish from West Sumatra, requiring a long cooking process. The diced beef is mixed with a large amount of coconut milk and aromatic spices such as turmeric, ginger, lime leaves, galangal, chilies, and lemongrass. They are simmered for several hours until the beef is super tender. In Indonesia, rendang is usually devoured at certain occasions and religious celebrations.
2. Nasi Goreng
Nasi goreng or Indonesian fried rice is a national dish that can be found across the country. The rice is stirred with some basic seasonings such as sliced shallots, chopped garlic, chili paste, and sweet soy sauce. It’s usually served with prawn crackers, chicken, fried shallots, egg, and sliced sausage. Instead of enjoying nasi goreng in a fine restaurant, you should try the street food version. The authentic taste and the aroma are so incredible and whets your appetite.
Satay or Sate is a popular Indonesian dish made of skewered, grilled meat. The meat can be chicken, pork, beef, mutton, and even rabbit. Satay is usually served with a thick peanut sauce and sliced fresh shallots. There are numerous variations of satay depending on which region they are from. Sate Padang is made of grilled diced beef with yellowish sauce. Meanwhile, the Balinese sate lilit is made of minced fish and grated coconut with a lemongrass as the skewer.
If you are a vegetarian, we highly recommend Gado-Gado, the Indonesian salad. Gado-Gado literally means “mixing.” The blanched vegetables (spinach, string beans, cabbage, and carrot) are mixed with fried tofu and tempeh, sliced cucumber, and boiled egg. It’s always served with tasty peanut sauce, “mlinjo” crackers, and “sambal” (chili paste). You can eat the Gado-Gado with a steamed rice cake wrapped in banana leaf called “lontong.” This healthy food has been a favorite among Indonesian people over the years.
Soto is another national dish comprising of broth, shredded chicken or diced beef, and complementary ingredients such as bean sprouts and chopped celery. The soup is always eaten with rice. You can add soya sauce, chili paste, and lime to add amazing flavours. There are several types of Soto ranging from Soto Jawa, Soto Betawi, Soto Kudus to Soto Banjar, They have different appearances and flavors yet are all mouth-watering. If you are an avid foodie, you had better try buffalo and cow’s inner organ Soto.
If you are craving more soup, try the Bakso. It’s the Indonesian meat ball soup, similar to the Chinese beef ball. Bakso is basically made of ground meat (beef, fish, and pork) and tapioca flour. It’s shaped like a ball and boiled in hot water. Barack Obama’s favorite dish is usually served with bihun (rice vermicelli), tofu, crispy wontons, and veggies. Besides, you can add in sweet soy sauce and chili paste. Malang, the city most famous for its Bakso, has a lot of variations of this dish.
Martabak gets its influence from the Middle East. This savory street food is a crispy dough filled with chicken’s or duck’s eggs, leek, onion, and some spices. It’s served with cucumber and chili pickles, and spicy dark sauce. The combination of crispy skin and the soft meat filling is so addictive. You can get a Martabak from evening street vendors. They also have Martabak Manis, which is a dessert version with sweet fillings.
Pecel is a traditional dish from Java, which is similar to Gado-Gado with a spicy peanut sauce dressing. The veggies, such as spinach, cassava leaves, and bean sprouts, are blanched before serving. The spicy yet sweet salad is served with steamed rice or “lontong” (rice cakes), chopped cucumber, fresh Thai basil, and “rempeyek” (crispy peanut crackers). You can have side dishes like fried tempeh and tofu while enjoying pecel salad. The unique flavor of the sauce is from an herb with the pungent aroma named “kencur.”
Gudeg, native to Yogyakarta, is a traditional dish made of young jack fruit deeply boiled along with coconut milk and palm sugar for several hours. It has reddish dark brown look due to the long cooking process and the teak leaves. Some spices like shallot, garlic, galangal, and bay leaves are added to make the dish tastier. The sweet Gudeg is served with additional dishes such as “telur pindang” (the dark boiled egg), fried chicken, and “sambal goreng krecek” made of buffalo skin.
Siomay is a traditional steamed dumpling, taking its influence from China. The dumpling is usually filled with fish and prawn paste. This delicious dish is topped with a sweet peanut sauce, soya sauce, and lime juice. Its complementary dishes are steamed potato, cabbage, tofu, bitter melon, and boiled egg. You can find this type of food at either street-side food stalls or street vendors across the country. To have the most flavorful Siomay, we recommend eating it while it’s still hot.
One word to describe Indonesian food: Delightful!
If you travel the archipelago, never miss any chance to delight in its foods. There is a wide variety of good Indonesian dishes you should try. If you are a meat lover, you can have both Beef Rendang and Bakso. They are indeed the most popular dishes offering incredible flavor and texture. Don’t get worried if you don’t like meat; Gado-Gado and Pecel will satisfy your hungry stomach. Indonesia is truly a heaven for foodies - your taste buds will thank you.
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