Credit by Indonesian foods we can't live without © Teropong Bisnis
40 Indonesian Foods We Can't Live Without
FUN FACTS Indonesia

40 Indonesian Foods We Can't Live Without

It's time to give Indonesia's culinary credentials some time in the limelight.

Here we run through a mouth-watering array of broth-soaked noodles, fiery curries, banana-wrapped fish and vegetable salads with sweet peanut dressing.



Sambal. Image: CNN
Sambal. Image: CNN

1. Sambal

While technically more of a condiment, the chili-based sauce known as sambal is a staple at all Indonesian tables.

Dishes aren't complete unless they've a hearty dollop of the stuff, a combination of chilies, sharp fermented shrimp paste, tangy lime juice, sugar and salt all pounded up with mortar and pestle.


Satay. Image: CNN

2. Satay

These tasty meat skewers cook up over coals so hot they need fans to waft the smoke away.

Whether it's chicken, goat, mutton or rabbit, the scrappy morsels get marinated in turmeric, barbecued and then bathed in a hearty dose of peanut sauce.

Other nations now lay claim to sate, but Indonesians consider it a national dish conceived by street vendors and popularized by Arab traders.


3. Bakso

A favorite among students, this savory meatball noodle soup gained international fame when U.S. President Barack Obama remembered it as one of his favorites during a visit to Jakarta.

The meatballs -- springy or rubbery, the size of golf balls or bigger -- are made from chicken, beef, pork or some amorphous combination of them all.

Sold mostly from pushcarts called kaki lima, bakso comes garnished with fried shallots, boiled egg and wontons.


Soto. Image: CNN
Soto. Image: CNN


4. Soto

This traditional meat soup comprises a broth and ingredients that vary across the archipelago.

Common street versions are made of a simple, clear soup flavored with chicken, goat or beef. In Jakarta, home of the indigenous Betawi, soto Betawi garners fame with its sweet, creamy, coconut-milk base.

It's usually topped with crispy shallots and fried garlic, and as much or little sambal as taste buds can take.


Nasi Goreng. Image: CNN
Nasi Goreng. Image: CNN


5. Nasi goreng

Considered Indonesia's national dish, this take on Asian fried rice is often made with sweet, thick soy sauce called kecap (pronounced ketchup) and garnished with acar, pickled cucumber and carrots.

To add an element of fun to the experience, diners can try nasi gila (or "crazy rice") and see how many different kinds of meat they can find buried among the grains -- yes, those are hot dog slices.


6. Gado-gado

Literally "mix-mix," the term gado-gado is often used to describe situations that are all mixed up -- Jakarta, for instance, is a gado-gado city.

As a food, however, it's one of Indonesia's best-known dishes, essentially a vegetable salad bathed in the country's classic peanut sauce.


Nasi Uduk. Image: CNN
Nasi Uduk. Image: CNN


7. Nasi uduk

A perennial favorite among native Betawi, nasi uduk is rice cooked in coconut milk and includes a pinwheel of various meat and vegetable accoutrements.

It almost always includes fried chicken, boiled eggs and tempe (soybean cake) with anchovies and is topped with emping (melinjo nut crackers).


Nasi padang. Image: CNN
Nasi padang. Image: CNN

8. Nasi padang

Singaporeans may say they can't live without it, but nasi padang, named after its birth city in Sumatra, is 100% Indonesian.

Nasi padang is a meal with steamed rice accompanied by more than a dozen dishes -- goopy curries with floating fish heads or rubbery cow's feet -- stacked up on the table.


9. Ayam Goreng

The key to Indonesian fried chicken is the use of small village birds, whose freedom to run around the yard makes them tastier than the big chunks of meat at KFC.


10. Bakmi goreng

Noodles compete with rice for carbohydrate of choice in Indonesia, ranging from broad and flat (kwetiau) to scrawny vermicelli (bihun).

The best are bakmi -- pencil-thin and, in this case, fried with egg, meat and vegetables.


Gudeg. Image: CNN
Gudeg. Image: CNN


11. Gudeg

Fit for a sultan it may not be, but gudeg is certainly the signature of the royal city of Yogyakarta.

The sweet jackfruit stew is boiled for hours in coconut milk and palm sugar, making the fruit so soft and tender it falls apart with little chewing.

Other spices are thrown into the mix but teak leaves give it a brown coloring.

Like nasi uduk, it's served with rice, boiled egg, chicken and crispy, fried beef skin.


12. Rawon

A beef stew from East Java that goes heavy on the keluak nut to give it a nutty flavor and a deep, black color.

The soup base also mingles with garlic, shallots, ginger, turmeric and red chili to make it nice and spicy.


Pecel Lele. Image: CNN
Pecel Lele. Image: CNN


13. Pecel Lele

The sight of fried catfish may surprise first-time diners since it looks almost the same as it does living.

Served with rice and red and green sambal, this is simple street fare that fills the belly, which may be why it's a standout across Jakarta.


14. Opor Ayam

It is staple on tables around the end of Ramadan, when it's served with packed rice cakes (ketupat).

A little like a mild curry with less prep time required, it's filled with Indonesia's signature spices -- garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander.


15. Mie Ayam

For this dish, bakmie is boiled in stock and topped with succulent slices of gravy-braised chicken.

Chives and sambal add extra flavor -- but if it's done right little else is needed.


16. Babi guling

Pork is uncommon in this Muslim majority nation, but we had to include roast suckling pig given the near hysteria it generates on the Hindu island of Bali.

The Balinese respect their food and lavish attention on its preparation. Before spit-roasting the pig they bath it in coconut water and rub it with chili, turmeric, garlic and ginger to ensure succulence.


Gulai. Image: CNN
Gulai. Image: CNN


17. Gulai

Gulai is the common name for curry dishes, namely those from north Sumatra. 

Indonesian curries have regional variations that depend on the types of meat and fish available


18. Bubur ayam

From blue-collar workers to government ministers, almost everyone starts their day with this rice gruel, a savory porridge served with soy sauce, fried shallots, shredded chicken, beans and crackers.


19. Bakpao

Vendors often line busy roads during rush hour to offer these fluffy meat-filled buns to hungry passersby in need of a snack. Sweet offerings include chocolate and green bean. No need to go in search of them, they'll find you.


20. Asinan sayur

When palates crave the opposite of Javanese sweetness, this pickled vegetable salad offers reprieve.

The secret is in the dressing, a thin peanut sauce swirled with palm sugar to offset the salty snap of preserved mustard leaf, carrot, cabbage and cucumber.

Cah Kangkung. Image: CNN
Cah Kangkung. Image: CNN


21. Cah kangkung

Otherwise known as water spinach, a common river weed, kangkung gets stir fried with sweet soybean sauce, huge slices of garlic, bird's-eye chili and shrimp paste to take it from a poor man's food to something with a kick.


22. Pepes Ikan 

Pepes signifies the steaming of food in banana leaves, which gives it an earthy flavor that works well with the rich Manadonese spices (woku) it's coupled with.

When matched with tuna the result is a dense, fiery dish that holds its distinct flavors, but should be eaten gingerly.


Pempek. Image: CNN
Pempek. Image: CNN


23. Pempek

These fish and tapioca cakes from Palembang in South Sumatra comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.


Perkedel. Image: CNN
Perkedel. Image: CNN


24. Perkedel

So simple it's often overlooked, Perkadel's unassuming appearance belies its flavorful punch.

A distant relative of Dutch minced-meat frikandel, these croquettes are either potato based and filled with beef or made from corn (perkedel jagung).


Martabak manis. Image: Liputan6
Martabak manis. Image: Liputan6


25. Martabak

Think of a spongy, thick crepe made with 10 times the lard and you'll be somewhat close to imaging martabak.

The sweet version looks more like a pancake filled with gooey chocolate, peanuts or cheese, while the savory one is made from crispy pulled pastry like filo that is flattened in a wok as egg and minced meats are rapidly folded in.


Sayur Asem. Image: CNN
Sayur Asem. Image: CNN


26. Sayur asem

This clear, refreshing soup derived from tamarind pairs well with fried food since it's stocked with vegetables and some of Indonesia's most interesting ingredients: melinjo, bilimbi, chayote.


Oxtail soup. Image: CNN
Oxtail soup. Image: CNN


27. Sop Buntut

Oxtail soup is loved by Indonesians from all classes. The high-end version -- now the domain of Indonesia's diplomatic corps -- uses imported Australian beef, 7,000 kilograms a month to be precise, and comes complete with steamed rice, pickles, lime and sambal.


28. Ketoprak

Ketoprak is made from vermicelli, tofu, packed rice cake and bean sprouts with peanut sauce. 


29. Balado terong

Nothing more than grilled purple eggplant topped with heaps of chili sauce made from dried shrimp paste (balacan), it calls for a substantial portion of rice to even out the fire engine flavor.


Lontong sayur. Image: CNN
Lontong sayur. Image: CNN


30. Lontong sayur

Rice cake serves as the base for this savory morning favorite, a coconut-milk curry made with young papaya, soy-braised tofu and hard-boiled eggs.

Crushed up krupuk add a little crunch to get you going.


Rendang. Image: CNN
Rendang. Image: CNN


31. Rendang

Perhaps Padang's most famed curry, rendang is not an everyday food since it takes time and skill to make.

Its secret is in the gravy, which wraps around the beef for hours until, ideally, it's splendidly tender.


32. Tahu gejrot

These clouds of golden, fried tofu look like little packages behind the windows of the boxes from which they are sold.  This fluffy tofu steeped in sweet soy sauce and chili and served in a pestle and mortar.


33. Sop kambing

A robust soup with a yellow broth full of celery, tomato, and great chunks of goat meat, this dish could make the Campbell's soup man quiver. 

Ginger, lime leaf, candlenut and spring onion give it peppery smell that adds to its refreshingly earthy flavor.


34. Siomay

Think of it as Indonesia's version of dim sum -- traditional steamed fish dumplings known in China as shaomai.


35. Ikan bakar

While squid and prawns have a place in Indonesian cuisine, ikan bakar gets a far better showing for a fleshy texture that is great for dipping.

It is usually marinated in the typical trove of spices and served with a soy and chili-based sauce.


Daun Pepaya. Image: CNN
Daun Pepaya. Image: CNN


36. Daun pepaya

Papaya is one of the fastest growing trees in Southeast Asia, and its bitter leaves are great for sauteing.


37. Otak-otak

Another famed fish cake from Palembang, otak-otak has a more charming appearance, since it's wrapped in banana leaves before being grilled over charcoal.


Bebek Goreng. Image: CNN
Bebek Goreng. Image: CNN


38. Bebek goreng

Fried duck requires special skill to make it crispy but not oily. Sambal condiment will also make this dish extra special!


39. Gorengan

Or simply "fried foods," gorengan are the most prolific snacks in all of Indonesia.

Street carts typically offer crispy golden nuggets of tempe, cassava and tofu, as well as fried bananas, sweet potatoes, vegetables fritters made from shredded carrot, cabbage and bean sprouts and fermented soybean cakes.


Indomie. Image: CNN
Indomie. Image: CNN


40. Indomie

If you had to name one food Indonesians couldn't live without, it would have to be one that is easy to transport, since they're often on the go.

That makes instant noodles Indomie beloved by all. Sold at grocery stores, village mom and pop shops and even from the basket of bicycles, Indomie calls for nothing more than hot water and a packet of chemical-induced flavoring before it's ready to fill one's tummy.


Source : CNN


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