A Taste Of Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and home to over 240 million people. With a diverse mix of languages and ethnic groups spread across 17,000 islands, the food scene is considered to be as diverse as its geography! Traveling through Indonesia is a culinary journey unlike any other.

Its cuisine has been similarly shaped with influences from China, Europe and India. For instance, the Indians brought curries with them when they first arrived and it is now a mainstay in Indonesian cuisine.

Although meals are appear simple to prepare, the clever and frequent usage of various roots, spices, grasses, and leaves adds zest to most dishes. Unless specified, food in Indonesia is rarely spicy. Chili condiments known as sambal are provided as well so that you can spice your own food to taste. Do note that some sambal is made from fermented shrimp or fish so smell it first if you are not sure!

Similar to most of its neighbors, rice is Indonesia’s most important staple food. It is usually served at every meal and is often the main ingredient for desserts and beverages. In fact, what could be considered its national dish is a rice-based dish! Let us look at some of the must-try dishes when in Indonesia.

1. Nasi Goreng
nasi gorengNasi Goreng, literally translated as “fried rice” – is Indonesia’s version of fried rice. Unlike the more common Chinese-style fried rice, the orange-colored Nasi Goreng contains a light blend of chili and other spices. Nasi Goreng is ubiquitous and is available everywhere, from the inexpensive street stalls to upmarket restaurants. In fact, this was one dish served to President Barack Obama during his visit to Indonesia in 2010.

Some places to get good Nasi Goreng in Jakarta:
Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih
Di Pamulang Permai 1 Blok B 38 No.12. Pamulang, Jakarta, Indonesia
Tel: 0811190775

Nasi Goreng Kemang – Music Café
Jl. Kemang Utara I no. 5E, Kemang, Jakarta Selatan 12730
Tel: 021 – 7182635 / 021 – 99761313

2. Mie Goreng
mie gorengMie goreng – pronounced “mee goreng” refers to the Indonesian version of fried noodles and is served differently in the country, depending on where you are. Restaurants in the tourist areas such as Jakarta will serve thin, stir-fried, yellow noodles with spices and vegetables. However, you may get a pack of instant, ramen-style noodles that are high in fat and MSG when you order Mie Goreng in Flores or other rural areas.

Some places to get good Mie Goreng in Jakarta:
Remboelan Plaza Senayan 4th Floor | Jl. Asia Afrika, Jakarta, Indonesia

Ikan Bakar Cianjur Jalan Cipete Raya 35, Jakarta, Indonesia

3. Gado Gado
gado gado
Gado-gado refers to Indonesian-style vegetable salad made up of assorted ingredients such as lettuce, beansprout, steamed potato, boiled egg, fried tofu, corn kernels, spinach, cucumber, lontong (compressed steamed rice in banana leaf); smothered with thick peanut sauce and topped with prawn crackers.

Some places to get good Gado-Gado in Jakarta:
Gado Gado Boplo
Jalan Wahid Hasyim No. 87, Jakarta Pusat, Jakarta, Indonesia (Palmerah)
+6221 – 3919481

Gado-gado Bonbin
jl.cikini IV no 5, Jakarta, Indonesia

4. Satay
sataySatay is one of the most popular street snacks one can find in Indonesia. Similar in appearance to a kebab, albeit smaller, satay is a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat. Usually made from chicken, beef, goat, pork, or anything else that can be grilled on a stick, satay can serve as a quick snack or a main meal depending on the quantity of small skewers purchased. Satay is usually served with peanut sauce or sambal.

Some places to get good Satay in Jakarta:
Satay Khas Senayan
Cokroaminoto, Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
+62-21-7399403

Samarra: Satay and Wine Restaurant
Jl. Kebon Sirih, Jakarta-Pusat, Jakarta, Indonesia
021-3918690

5. Tempeh
tempehTempeh is made from fermented soybeans that are formed into a patty, similar to a very firm veggie burger and then roasted or fried. Tempeh has a textured and nutty flavor that goes well with a variety of dishes. Considered a side dish rather than a main, it is readily available in most restaurants, food stalls and even supermarkets.

Dining out in Indonesia can be an interesting experience and knowing what dishes to try makes the experience even more worthwhile.

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