Food Travel

20 Plus Exotic Indonesian Foods You Must Try

Written by Jane Sophia

Every country has unique cuisine even if they are close neighbors. The ingredients vary, the preparation differs and also unique vegetables are used.

Indonesia is no different. With an extensive coastline and exotic islands, the seafood scene itself in Indonesia is refreshingly different and mouthwatering. In addition, you know the range of noodles and frothy soups of Indonesian Foods are very popular.

Let us look into some of the tastiest Indonesian Foods. If you ever go to Indonesia, the information about Indonesian Foods will be very useful.

Soto is widely eaten in all parts of Indonesia and thus, you will find it on just about every restaurant’s Indonesian Foods menu. It is more of a semi-soup; call it a broth made with the stalk of vegetables and anyone meat such as chicken, mutton, or beef. There will be some variations across Indonesia but overall, it will be tasty. You can even call Soto as Indonesia’s national food. The consistency of the coconut milk used in Soto and the use of seasonal vegetables will also vary.

  1. 1. Traditional Indonesian Foods: Soto

Traditional Indonesian Foods Soto

Soto is widely eaten in all parts of Indonesia and thus, you will find it on just about every restaurant’s Indonesian Foods menu. It is more of a semi-soup; call it a broth made with the stalk of vegetables and anyone meat such as chicken, mutton, or beef. There will be some variations across Indonesia but overall, it will be tasty. You can even call Soto as Indonesia’s national food. The consistency of the coconut milk used in Soto and the use of seasonal vegetables will also vary.

  1. 2. Hottest Burning Indonesian Foods: Sambal

Indonesian Foods Sambal

From the look of it, Sambal is more of a chutney or a paste than a complete food item. It is rather a paste that is added to other food preparations to enhance the taste and gives added flavor. Sambal’s main ingredients are the commonly used shrimp paste, tomato, chili, garlic, vinegar, and fish sauce.

Even though it is not part of a meal, it is kept on every dining table and you should know what its purpose.

  1. 3. The Staple Indonesian Foods: Nasi Uduk

Indonesian Foods Nasi Uduk

Did you notice a lump of white rice in the image? It is called Nasi Uduk that is nothing but a lump of white rice steamed and mixed with coconut milk. Nasi Uduk is eaten either sweet or savory depending on the accompaniments such as egg, Sambal and some meat-mostly fish that is available in Indonesia in abundance. It is staple Indonesian Foods. Yes, a staple food means it is eaten three times a day.

  1. 4. Gourmet Indonesian Foods: Satay

Gourmet Indonesian Foods Satay

Obviously, it is a skewer; i.e.: grilled meat that is served on a skewer. You dip the meat on sambal served in a bowl and chew it hard and slow. Satay is served both in high-end hotels and street cornet food outlets. At both these places, Satay is cooked in front of your eyes (barbequed).

  1. 5. Spicy Indonesian Foods: Cah Kangkung

Spicy Indonesian Foods Cah Kangkung

As I wrote at the beginning of this article, the Cah Kangkung (tongue twister) is a unique vegetable in Indonesia. Simply put, this is water spinach. I would say the word ‘spinach’ is lofty as it is more of a weed found in the rivers of Indonesia.

In your restaurant Indonesian Foods menu, if you find this name, you can guess what the basic ingredient of the dish is.

  1. 6. Indonesian Fried Noodles: Bakmi Goreng

Bakmi Goreng

It appears as noodles all right, fried and glistening with cheesy texture. I guess the preparation is more of Chinese than Indonesian. Nevertheless, Bakmi Goreng is a very common poor man’s food in rural Indonesia.

  1. 7. Delightful Indonesian Foods: Bakso

Delightful Indonesian Foods Bakso

You guessed it right! They are meatballs indeed made of anyone meat that include pork and beef. The vendor will put the meatball in a small bowl, add some spicy condiments and sprinkle generously boiled egg shreds and fried spring onions (shallots). The meatballs are kept soaked in a soup when served.

  1. 8. Authentic Indonesian Foods: Nasi Goreng

If you see this on the Indonesian Foods menu card, you can straightaway order it without any fear. It’s nothing but the usual fried rice, only the Indonesian name threatens us.

Authentic Indonesian Foods Nasi Goreng

In Indonesia, it seems cucumber is grown in abundance because it is widely used to garnish the Indonesian Foods and the Nasi Goreng is no exception. In this Indonesian food, both the vegetables and meat are found in Nasi Goreng.

  1. 9. Traditional Indonesian Foods: Nasi Rawon

Traditional Indonesian Foods Nasi Rawon

The distinctive black color of the beef soup is because of the usage of black nuts or black Keluak. You can see the large chunks of beef floating in the soup. For garnishing, shallots are added. Of course, it contains garlic too as it is a ubiquitous ingredient in South Asia.

  1. 10. Indonesian Chicken Congee: Bubur Ayam

Bubur Ayam Indonesian Food

Bubur Ayam is one of the most common breakfast Indonesian Foods in Indonesia.  It is a kind of porridge made of rice basically. To give strength to the people, chicken stalk (broth) is also added along with some nutritious pulses, celery, and shallot.

  1. 11. Traditional Indonesian Foods: Gado-Gado

Traditional Indonesian Foods Gado-Gado

It is a salad containing several things. Gado-Gado is literally a dish that you can make ‘as-you-like’. It is because of no-fixed ingredients only; the Gado Gado is very famous and is one of the five national dishes of Indonesia.

I could see pieces of poached egg, potato, cilantro, tomato, some meat pieces, and shallots. I would call it a ‘customized salad’.

  1. 12. Indonesian Foods Cooked in Banana Leaves: Pepes Ikan

Pepes Ikan

That’s fish (mostly Tuna) cooked in a banana leaf. The marinated fish is wrapped in a banana leaf and steam cooked to delicious perfection. It is served steaming hot. As usual, you can dip the fish in a shrimp sauce and savor it.

  1. 13. Most Popular Indonesian Foods: Gudeg

Most Popular Indonesian Foods Gudeg

I must admit it is not certainly looking yummy but its taste is said to be heavenly. It is a sweet dish; jackfruit cooked in coconut milk for long hours and finally, palm sugar is added to increase the sweetness.

It is served with egg and fried chicken legs.

  1. 14. Indonesian foods Made up of Catfish: Pecel Lele

Pecel Lele

Tourists to Indonesia will find this food’s name written on every menu including small street food kiosks. The main purpose of this article is to introduce you to the names of several Indonesian Foods and what each dish is made up of basically so that you will get an idea when you are seated in a steaming hot Jakarta or Bali restaurant.

Pecel Lele and Pecak Lele are one and the same. The basic item in this Indonesian food is catfish. It is deep fried and served with sambal and steamed white rice.

  1. 15. Indomie, The Instant Noodles of Indonesia

When you are in one of the Indonesian city or island, you will hear the name “Indomie” too often. The name of the Indonesian Food suggests it is something to with Indonesia. Yes, it is staple Indonesian Foods.

Indomie

Indomie is nothing but instant noodles. The sachet containing the noodles is transferred into a convenient bowl along with a small packet of flavoring powder. Hot water is poured onto the bowl and voila! Your steaming hot noodle is ready instantly to eat.

It is eaten by everyone in the society in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

  1. 16. Classic Pork Feast: Babi Guling

Babi Guling

I think I don’t have to explain what this Indonesian food is? The image speaks for it.

Pork is an accepted dish in Bali islands. Since the Muslims do not eat pig and as there are more Muslims than other communities in Jakarta, Sumatra, and other Indonesian cities, in order to eat Babi Guling, people travel to Balinese Islands where the Hindus outnumber other communities.

Roasting a whole pig is a big process and watching the same is a pastime. The meat is washed thoroughly in tender coconut water, rubbed with several spicy pastes and let it marinate for more than 2 hours before it is placed on the fire.

  1. 17. Savoury Fishcake Delicacy: Pempek

Pempek

Pempek is a cake but not sweet but a savory. I mean the Indonesian dish is made in a cake form. It is made of tapioca and fish. It is dipped in a sweet and sour sauce called ‘cuko’ made using chili, vinegar, and sugar. What a combination!

  1. 18. Asinan Sayur, The Indonesian Salad

Asinan SayurI think I would like this Indonesian ready to eat food. I mean, you need not cook it because it is a salad of fruits and vegetables that are kept preserved in a brine solution. Apart from restaurants and street food outlets, Asinan Sayur is sold with minor variations by pushcart vendors too.

The vegetables and fruits that are kept in brine are said to be pickled.

In restaurants, the Asinan Sayur is served on a bowl. A waiter will squeeze some peanut sauce over the food, sprinkle powdered palm sugar and garnish with cucumber slices and cabbage leaves. Exotic dressing!

  1. 19. Popular Indonesian Goat Stew: Sop Kambing

Sop Kambing

The word ‘Sop’ indicates it is a soup. The South Asians eat plenty of soup varieties made possible with the availability of red and white meat in abundance.  I think they might have inherited this habit of drinking soups from the Chinese who are known to be fond of soups.

Well, the Sop Kambing is a mutton soup in which, the head of a goat is used. The soup is prepared very spicy by adding several condiments and for garnishing, the Asian Walnut called Candlenut is added along with shallots, celery, and lemon leaf!

This kind of Indonesian foods are served piping hot. Even the pushcart vendors manage to serve this mutton soup very hot.

  1. 20. Cendol, Traditional Indonesian Dessert

Cendol

Many people may not like the green colored dessert that looks like worms that we find in cauliflower and green peas beans. This a jelly, of course, made with mung bean and certainly, that is not green in color. The coloring is artificially induced but that too is vegetable based. Cendol is served chilled and you will find the green jelly immersed in a thick coconut milk sweetened by palm sugar which is much better than white sugar.

  1. 21. Lapis, Indonesian Layer Cake

Originated from Malaysia, the Lapis cake is a layered cake baked creatively with multiple colors.

Lapis

This kind of layered cake is called a ‘sandwich cake’ in other parts of the world.

If you are craving for any of these Indonesian foods, try to find an Indonesian restaurant in your city or make a trip to Jakarta once.

About the author

Jane Sophia

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