13 Indonesian dishes that will not leave you indifferent!
To delve deeper into the culture of Indonesia, it is essential to try traditional dishes from the local cuisine. Some of them are quite exotic and, at first glance, consist of incompatible aromas and flavors. Salads, main dishes, snacks, desserts – all of it is very unusual and incredibly delicious!
This Indonesian meat dish is prepared from the tenderest beef cooked over very slow heat. The homeland of Beef Rendang is considered West Sumatra; however, it enjoys immense popularity throughout Indonesia, both in large restaurants and humble cafes.
The unique recipe for preparing such meat requires the chef's skill and patience because it needs to be simmered for several hours, using a mixture of coconut milk and spices as a dressing. Beef Rendang can be served when it becomes exceptionally tender and rich in spicy flavor.
Sate is a very common dish in all parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Depending on the location of the restaurant, you may encounter different variations of recipes, differing in some details. To make Sate truly delicious, the freshest beef or pork, fish pieces, or chicken are carefully selected. The meat, cut into small pieces, is then threaded onto skewers and grilled until a tantalizing aroma emerges.
Finally, Sate is drizzled with a spicy peanut or soy sauce with chili and shallots, and it is typically served with rice cakes or rice on the side.
We are accustomed to rice being boiled, but Indonesians have found another way to prepare it. Local Fried Rice is a versatile dish that can be found in any culinary establishment—from luxurious hotels to street food kiosks.
Rice is literally fried in a pan, and during this process, anything can be added: eggs, chicken, seafood, vegetables, sausage, meatballs, beef, or goat meat. The dish is typically garnished with acar (pickled cucumbers), chili, shallots, and carrots.
Traditional Indonesian Soto soup is a very colorful, aromatic, and rich first course. To prepare a truly tasty broth, meat or chicken is added to the water, along with essential herbs and spices. In some parts of Indonesia, different herbs and spices may be used, but the general recipe specifics remain the same.
Bakso is Indonesian meatballs, very similar to our meatballs. They are made from beef, although in some places, you may find this dish made from fish, chicken, or pork. Bakso meatballs can be served in various ways— with spicy broth, rice noodles, vegetables, and occasionally with tofu or traditional dumplings.
Tempeh is a naturally fermented soy product, shaped like a small cake. It can be fried, steamed, or used as an ingredient in local recipes. Tempeh is served as a great addition to rice or as a standalone snack.
The highlight of Nasi Uduk is the rice, which is cooked with coconut milk and herbs to create a fragrant base for the dish. It is then served with chicken or beef, eggs, and cucumber, garnished with fried shallots and kerupuk (Indonesian crackers). The recipe for Nasi Uduk originated in Jakarta, Indonesia, where people often enjoy it for breakfast, sometimes even on the go.
This exotic Indonesian salad is dressed with a fragrant peanut sauce and features a base of raw or boiled vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts), as well as fresh fried tofu and boiled eggs. It is traditionally served with rice cakes or a portion of plain rice.
Locals call this dish sop buntut, and it does indeed contain oxtail, a succulent, semi-circular tail that forms a delicious and hearty broth. Later, pieces of potato, diced tomatoes, and other finely chopped vegetables are added to the cooking pot. This delicacy, originating from the western part of the island of Java, is very popular in Indonesia and is considered a festive treat.
A highly popular dish in Bali, Babi Guling is a roasted young pig prepared according to an ancient island recipe. For many years, it has been a traditional family dish, and its recipe has been preserved in its original form to this day: a whole undivided pig is carefully roasted on all sides and then rolled directly over the fire (guling). The unforgettable taste of Babi Guling comes from aromatic local spices and seasonings. You are unlikely to find this dish outside of Bali, as the majority of other Indonesians are Muslims and do not eat pork.
The recipe for this dish traces its roots to the national cuisine of South Sumatra. Pempek is most often made from fresh fish mixed with tapioca. From this mixture, pies of various shapes and sizes are formed. These aromatic fish cakes are served on the table with a spicy and sour sauce made from vinegar and chili. Pempek is beloved throughout Indonesia, enjoyed either as a main dish or as a snack.
You can find this dessert in many Asian countries, but it is particularly popular in Indonesia. Martabak consists of two layers of pancake with various fillings: chocolate, cheese, nuts, milk, or even a combination of all these! You can discover this exotic dessert from street vendors and fully enjoy its taste.
The name Siomay can refer to both a set of dishes and traditional dumplings that are part of this dish. The main ingredients of Siomay dumplings are fish and dough, which, when prepared, are served with steamed cabbage, potatoes, as well as tofu cheese and boiled eggs. All of this is topped with aromatic peanut sauce.
Having tasted these dishes once, you will want to enjoy them again and again! Bon appétit!