In case you’re brand new to Indonesian cuisine, you just can’t go wrong with the ten dishes below…they’re simply delectable!
Rendang is a spicy meat dish with a creamy, spicy, flavorful coconut milk sauce. It originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia and is now a nation-wide and even world-wide favorite.
It’s most commonly served with soft, succulent beef as the meat.
This dish is a must-try.
Sambal is not so much a dish as it is a sauce, yet it is so popular, it may as well be a dish. Sambal is an absolute staple on all Indonesian tables and the love of Sambal is so ardent that there are estimated to be as many as 300 varieties of Sambal across the Indonesian archipelago!
That’s a lot of variation for something that’s made with a combination of chilies, shrimp paste, lime juice, sugar and salt.
No dish is considered complete in Indonesia without a healthy dollop of Sambal and oftentimes, it’s the main attraction of a dish. You’ll find Sambal versions of everything under the sun – mango, mushroom, durian, cassava…you name it, they’ll serve it with Sambal.
Mmmmm. Roasting BBQ skewers of soft, succulent meat. You’ve probably tasted these in Thai restaurants as they’re a popular appetizer, but you must try them in Indonesia as well.
You can choose from a wide selection of meat – chicken, goat, mutton, or rabbit – and these yummy morsels of meat are marinated in turmeric, barbecued over hot coals, and then bathed in a hearty does of peanut sauce.
4. Nasi Goreng
No list of Indonesian food is complete without Nasi Goreng, long-considered Indonesia’s national dish. This simple, Chinese-influenced fried rice dish differentiates itself from all the other fried rice dishes of the world with a sweet, thick soy sauce called kecap and a sprinkling of acar, pickled cucumber and carrots for a refreshing note.
A slightly runny egg tops off the yummy picture.
5. Gado Gado
Sure, Nasi Goreng might be the national dish, but nothing represents culturally diverse Indonesia like the popular Gado Gado.
Gado Gado literally translates to “mix mix” and is a term often used to describe situations that are all mixed up. The dish lives up to its name – Gado Gado is a healthy, hearty mix of veggies that are boiled and blended together.
6. Nasi Padang
A South East Asian favorite, the popular Nasi Padang is 100% Indonesian.
The dish is not so much a dish as a mini-buffet: Nasi Padang dishes are prepared in a hot, spicy, dry style of cooking full of flavor and aroma.
Choose from around a dozen dishes and dig in!
Sure, you can find KFC in Indonesia, but after you try Ayam Goreng, you won’t even be tempted to visit. Indonesia’s fried chicken dish uses small village birds that are given free reign to run around the yard all their lives. The life spent roaming free and happy – as opposed to being cooped up in a cage – makes these chickens pure juicy yumminess.
Freedom never tasted so good.
Soto is ubiquitous in Indonesia – you can trek from one end to another and still manage to consume a bowl of Soto every day. The broth and ingredients do vary across the archipelago, however, so you probably won’t even get sick of eating it.
It’s a super simple dish, a traditional soup composed of broth, meat and veggies. Common street versions are made of a simple, clear soup flavored with chicken, goat, or beef – sometimes with a deliciously sweet, creamy, coconut-milk base.
Garnish with crispy shallots and fried garlic and you’ll understand why this simple dish is so darn popular.
Another Chinese-influenced dish, Bakso made it to international fame when President Barack Obama fondly recalled it being one of his favorites during a recent trip to Jakarta. The main feature of this dish is the Bakso, or Indonesian meatball, which is made a meat – beef, chicken, fish, shrimp – combines with a big of tapioca flour.
These meatballs come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors but are usually served in a bowl of beef broth with noodles, veggies, tofu, egg, and wontons and sprinkled with fried shallots and celery.
Last but certainly not least, Rawon is a deliciously flavorful black beef stew from East Java. The soup uses keluak nut for a deepy, nutty flavor combined with garlic, shallots, ginger, turmeric, and red chili for a hearty spiciness.
It’s an unforgettable flavor.