Indonesian cuisine is unlike the other countries. They have more than 5,000 cuisines because of the many regions that are found in Indonesia. Similarly, due to the size of the country and its history, the local cuisine has been influenced by other countries as well.
Despite the diverse food, some dishes are synonymous with the country’s people and culture. These distinct dishes are what Indonesian refer to as their national foods. Indonesian food grew so popular that the popular dishes can be found in its neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
Indonesian cuisine is labelled as one of the most vibrant, colourful and flavourful in the world. Like few other Asian countries, the Indonesian also enjoys their dishes with rice and eat them using bare hands.
Indonesian food evolution
For example, Sumatran cuisine is largely influenced by Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, while Java food is influenced by Chinese cuisine. Regional food can be differentiated by the difference in cooking styles.
Sumatran food tend to use more spices and herbs in their dishes. This is similarly practised in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine which heavily influenced Sumatran cuisine. Compared to other regions in Indonesia, food in Sumatra tend to have bold and flavourful dishes.
For the Javanese region, the food is a bit bland and plain compared to food in other Indonesian regions. They even have several dishes that consists of egg and rice noodles. The different cooking styles and preparation methods make Indonesian cuisines unique and celebrated by locals and foreigners alike.
Popular Indonesian food
Bakso or baso is similar to fish balls. It is a ball of meat made from beef, mixed with flour and salt. Bakso is best enjoyed with noodles and soup. It can also be served with only meatballs in the soup, upon request. Bakso is one of the most famous street food and you can get it from all across Indonesia.
Ayam penyet is an East Javanese cuisine where the fried chicken is tenderised and served with special condiments, salad, tempeh and fried tofu. The special sauce is usually a spicy sambal made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, chillies and shrimp paste.
Babi guling or roasted pork is a favourite in the Bali region. Various spicy ingredients are stuffed inside the pork such as turmeric, coriander, lemon-grass, black pepper, and garlic. Sliced babi guling is best eaten with hot steamy rice and spicy sambal.
Nasi rawon is an Indonesian term to mean beef soup. It is a famous dish in the Surabaya region and is best served with rice. Garlic, chilli, turmeric, shallot, and salt are sautéed with oil to make this flavourful dish.
The addition of herbs in the soup makes it fragrant and spicy. The special dark beef soup is commonly garnished with green onion. If you want more spice, you could ask for a spicier variation of this dish called ‘rawon setan.’
Oxtail soup, also known as sup buntut is a healthy and hearty dish. Oxtail is the main ingredients in the making of this soup. The oxtail is usually barbecued or fried first before adding it to the soup. This simple oxtail soup stands out from other broths because of its distinct and addictive flavour.
It is a delightful Indonesia street food that is loved by the locals. The dish is an Indonesian-style dumpling filled with steamed fish, cabbage, egg and topped with peanut sauce. The tasty peanut sauce adds texture and flavours of earthiness which really makes the dish enjoyable.
Nasi uduk is an Indonesian Betawi-style ‘nasi lemak’ originally from Jakarta. The rice is cooked with coconut milk and herbs to give it a creamy, spicy taste. Nasi uduk’s fragrance comes from lemongrass that makes one crave for more after each bite.
This delicious pempek is made of fish and tapioca, and served with sour or dark dipping sauce made with vinegar. This dish is originally from the Palembang region. It is an Indonesian savoury fishcake that is usually served with noodles.
Sweet martabak is the most famous dessert in Indonesia. It is the Indonesian version of pancake that is filled with either chocolate, peanut or cheese.
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