Broth-soaked noodles. Red hot spices. Banana-wrapped fish. Vegetable salads. Indonesian cuisine is an array of all this and more. The archipelago is full of magnificent food ranging from sweet coconut milk to spicy beef stew. Indonesian cuisine is a bowl of richly-flavoured herbs, spices, and other seasonings, guaranteed to awaken the foodie in you. It relies on a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes and meats.
There are curries, salads, soups and sauces; rice, noodles, mashes and stews. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to this particular cuisine. It is traditional, while borrowing tips and methods from French and Italian cuisines. It is a diverse platter of food from a diverse public. While it is a joy ride to stop at street sides to wolf down a simple sandwich, it is a real treat to sample these five delicious dishes whose unique tastes will keep you going back for more.
Nasi Goreng: Considered Indonesia’s national dish, Nasi Goreng is fried rice typically spiced with sweet soy sauce, shallots, garlic, tamarind sauce and chilli. A rich blend of authentic Indonesian flavours, this type of fried rice sometimes includes eggs, grated chicken or crispy, deep-fried prawns for that special Asian touch.
Gado Gado: Literally translated, Gado Gado means “mix-mix”. This dish is a veritable feast of potatoes, string beans, bean sprouts, spinach, chayote, bitter gourd, corn, cabbage, tofu, tempeh (soybean cajke), and hard-boiled eggs. This mixture is dressed in thick peanut sauce topped with fried shallots and Indonesian deep-fried crackers called krupuk.
Nasi Uduk: It isn’t traditional Indonesian without that wholesome and delicious coconut milk. Nasi Uduk is a perennial favourite in Indonesia, for locals and tourists alike. A plateful of cooked rice placed on a puree of tomatoes and spice, surrounded by sumptuous fried chicken, boiled eggs and tempeh with anchovies and emping (nut crackers), this is a popular lunchtime dish.
Gulai: North Sumatra is known for its flavourful curries and Gulai is a rich, smooth curry which deserves the culinary limelight. Made of succulent pork, poultry, mutton and various kinds of offal, and sometimes fish and seafood, this sauce is a local delicacy. The secret of its flavour lies in its spices namely turmeric, coriander, and black peppers, with a tangy dash of tamarind.
Cah Kangkung: Kangkung, or water spinach, is a river weed commonly available in Indonesia. Stir-fried with sweet soybean sauce and huge slices of aromatic garlic, kankung is made into a delectable masterpiece by adding a bit of bird’s-eye chilli and several spoons of shrimp paste. Garnished with a sprig of coriander and just a hint of grated onions, this dish is transformed into a king’s feast from a poor man’s food.