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Food in Indonesia - Embark on a Gastronomic Adventure

9 mins. read

There is no denying the fact that Indonesia makes for an amazing holiday destination with its amazing beaches, natural landscapes, island hopping, water sports, historical attractions, and much more. However, this is not all that an Indonesia tour package has to offer for tourists. Food in Indonesia is famous for emulating a flavourful journey that showcases the diverse cultures of the archipelago. When you are on a holiday in Indonesia, food will always be an integral part of your travel experience. From breakfast to dinner and snacks, the food in Indonesia offers an eclectic selection of dishes that will leave you enthralled.

Explore the Rich Flavours of the Most Popular Food in Indonesia

Indonesian cuisine offers an explosion of flavours that have been influenced by the diverse geography and culture of the islands. Whether it is the spicy and aromatic dishes from Sumatra, or the sweet and savoury flavours from Java, each region in Indonesia has done its part to help create the unique tapestry of gastronomic delight that is Indonesian cuisine. Indonesian cuisine is characterised by aromatic herbs and rich spices that create a harmonious amalgamation of flavours, like sweet, salty, and umami, all together, without being overpowering. Here’s more on the foods and dishes that you should definitely taste when you travel to Indonesia on your next vacation.

  • The National Food of Indonesia
    • Soto
    • Rendang
    • Sate/Satay
    • Nasi Goreng
    • Gado-Gado
  • Street Food in Indonesia
    • Martabak
    • Warteg
    • Mie
    • Durian
    • Ketoprak
  • Vegetarian Food in Indonesia
    • Bakwan Jagung
    • Urap/Urab
    • Telur Belado
    • Rujak
    • Tahu Bacem
  • Traditional Food in Indonesia
    • Ikan Bakor
    • Pepes Ikan
    • Tempeh Ayam Goreng
    • Pisang Goreng
    • Sayur Lodeh
  • A List of the Most Common Items You May Come across in Menus.

The National Food of Indonesia

A while back, there was no official national food of Indonesia, with most people being involved in ongoing debates about which dish deserves the title. In 2018, Indonesia’s tourism ministry put an end to the debate by declaring not just one but five dishes as the national food of Indonesia. This move was made in a bid to promote Indonesian cuisine to attract more tourists to the archipelago country. Here are the five Indonesian dishes that are now the official national food of Indonesia:

  • Soto

Soto is a classic Indonesian soup that is available in different variations across the country, like Soto Betawi (beef soup) and Soto Ayam (chicken soup). The main ingredients of this soup are noodles, meat, vegetables, and spices.

  • Rendang

Rendang is one of the most popular food dishes in Indonesia, which is made by braising beef in coconut milk, herbs, and spices. As it cooks, the beef becomes tender, and the liquid keeps reducing until it turns into a dark sauce.

  • Nasi Goreng

Any list describing the food in Indonesia will be incomplete without a mention of the Nasi Goreng. At its simplest, the dish is made using fried rice (preferably leftover rice), vegetables, and meat and is available in multiple variations across Indonesia.

  • Sate

The best food in Indonesia to have gained popularity across the world, sate, known around the world as satay, are skewers of grilled meat, accompanied by various sauces.

  • Gado-Gado

In Indonesian, Gado-Gado means ‘mix-mix’ and it is a salad that consists of a variety of vegetables, like bitter gourd, cabbage, potatoes, corn, and many more, as well as protein, like tempeh or eggs.

Street Food in Indonesia

In Indonesia, street food vendors, known as ‘kaki lima’, can be found almost everywhere, offering dishes that are as varied as the culture of Indonesia. Street food offers the most authentic experience and there are plenty of options for you to try.

  • Martabak

This is a ‘heavy’ snack that is full of calories and flavour. Available in sweet as well as savoury, these are stuffed pancakes that embody indulgence.

  • Kerak Telor

Kerak Telor is a famous food in Indonesia but can only be found outside certain well-known spots. Sticky rice is first grilled with shallots, shredded coconuts, and your choice of meat, which is then simmered over charcoal, garnished and served on paper.

  • Mie

Mei means noodles and depending on where you are, you can try different variations of Indonesian, like Mie Godog, Mie Aceh, and Mie Ramen.

  • Durian

Durian is a spiky fruit with a symphony of flavours inside. Many people describe its flavour as being a mix of savoury, sweet, aromatic, and bitter at the same time, with a butter-like consistency and undertones of creamy custard.

  • Ketoprak

A favourite food in Indonesia, Ketoprak is a vermicelli noodle dish that is made using tofu, sprouts, and sweet soy, and covered with veggies and peanut sauce.

Vegetarian Food in Indonesia

You don’t need to worry about finding vegetarian food in Indonesia. You can find several forms of traditional food in Bali and other Indonesian cities that are completely vegetarian. In Indonesian, ‘Sayur’ means vegetable, so if you’re looking for vegetarian food in Indonesia, keep an eye out for the word in the menus you check.

  • Bakwan Jagung

The best food in Indonesia for vegetarians looking for a quick snack, Bakwan Jagung is made using corn and can be enjoyed as a side dish, appetiser, or a snack.

  • Urap/Urab

This is an Indonesian salad made using boiled or steamed vegetables, like Chinese water spinach, mung bean sprouts, spinach, green beans, and more.

  • Telur Belado

Next on the list of vegetarian food in Indonesia is Telur Belado, which originated from Sumatra. Remember that this dish contains eggs, so it is not suitable for all types of vegetarians.

  • Rujak

If you want to eat only purely vegetarian food in Indonesia, Rujak is a great option. It is a salad of fruits and vegetables that is prepared with several variations across different regions in Indonesia.

  • Tahu Bacem

This is counted as traditional food in Indonesia and is fully vegan. Spiced temped is first deep fried and then boiled with a traditional mix till all of the water has evaporated.

Traditional Food in Indonesia

Traditional Food in Indonesia

In Indonesia, traditional food has a large variety of dishes on offer and the common feature that binds them together is the use of spices and fresh herbs. A paste made using such spices and fresh herbs, Bumbu, forms the base of several of Indonesia’s popular food preparations. Its ingredients include chillies, garlic, shallots, candlenuts, galangal, turmeric, ginger, and more.

  • Ikan Bakar

In terms of ingredients, fish is an extremely popular food in Indonesia. Ikan Bakar, or roasted fish, is a simple, healthy, and delicious dish for you to try. However, Ikan Bakar is not any simple grilled fish dish, as it is first marinated to impart aromatic flavours to the fish.

  • Pepes Ikan

Pepes refers to a way of cooking in which meat or vegetables are steamed or grilled in a banana leaf wrapping. Pepes Ikan is a fish that is covered with spices inside a banana leaf and grilled. This dish can also be made with, tofu, chicken, or minced meat.

  • Ayam Goreng

Translated to English, Ayam Goreng means fried chicken. However, this dish is much more flavourful than its name suggests, as the chicken is first marinated in a mix of flavourful spices and fresh herbs before being deep fried until it turns golden brown.

  • Pisang Goreng

Food in Indonesia takes simple ingredients and transforms them into amazing dishes. Pisang Goreng is slices of bananas or plantains that are deep fried. These slices can be plain or battered, covered with breadcrumbs or in honey, and can also be made using many different methods.

  • Sayur Lodeh

Sayur Lodeh is a soup that is made with various vegetables, like eggplants, carrots, beans, or jackfruit, that are cooked in coconut milk and served with salted meat or rice cakes.

A List of the Most Common Items You May Come across in Menus.

There are around 700 languages that are spoken across Indonesia. However, the official language, Bahasa Indonesia is also the most commonly used language, and it can be found on almost every menu in Indonesia. Knowing the Indonesian names of the ingredients that are an integral part of the cuisine can help a lot.

  • Mie: Noodles
  • Rice: Nasi
  • Fish: Ikan
  • Beef or Meat: Daging
  • Chicken: Ayam
  • Pork: Babi
  • Vegetable: Sayur
  • Satay: Sate
  • Soup: Sup
  • Cheese: Keju
  • Spicy: Pedas
  • Bakar: Goreng
  • Grilled: Bakar
  • Roasted: Panggang
  • Eddoe or Dasheen: Taro
  • Tapioca: Cassava
  • Sweet Potato: Ubi Jalar

From the traditional food in Bali to Sumatra’s flavourful recipes, there’s a lot of famous food in Indonesia that you can try when you visit the Indonesian islands.

May 24, 2024


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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