What are some traditional foods from Indonesia

Indonesia Food: 23 Delicious Dishes Not To Be Missed

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The Indonesian cuisine is more diverse than many people think. The country has a lot more than just that Nasi Goreng on offer and in addition to the national Indonesian dishes there are also many regional dishes. Even the typical Indonesian dishes are often subject to regional differences.

Eating in Indonesia: we introduce you to 23 delicious and popular dishes

For your next trip, you should also familiarize yourself with the cuisine of Indonesia and then try it out. Whether in cookshops / warungs, restaurants or at markets - you will find the dishes presented below almost everywhere.

Food tours in Bali are also very popular, where you will be introduced to the local cuisine in all its diversity. If you are traveling to Bali this would be a great option to learn about Indonesian cuisine.

Of course they still are by no means all of Indonesia's dishes and the list could go on and on. So that it doesn't get too confusing, we have listed 23 highlights for you here.

Our tip: 38 Indonesian recipes

If you just want to cook these and other delicious Indonesian dishes at home, you should take a look at the book “38 Indonesian Recipes”. The cookbook is awesome and we can recommend it 100%! Also available as an e-book.

1. Nasi Goreng

The classic! This fried rice is the national dish of Indonesia and is offered in every restaurant or warung. There are different versions of Nasi Goreng, e.g. with chicken (Nasi Goreng Ayam), Lamb (Nasi Goreng Kambing) or shrimp (Nasi Goreng Udang). Of course there is also a vegetarian version with only vegetables or tofu.

Nasi Goreng is also a popular breakfast dish and can generally be eaten at any time of the day. Nasi Goreng is often served with a fried egg on top and Krupuk (Crab chips) served.

2. Mie Goreng

Another popular dish are fried noodles, also known to us as Bami Goreng. They are fried with vegetables and any kind of meat, mostly chicken or seafood. Of course, vegetarian is also possible.

3. Nasi Campur

One of my favorite dishes! Translated, Nasi Campur means something like “mixed rice” and the name says it all. You get a serving of pure rice and you can choose your own ready-made side dishes, which are then added to the rice. In the form of a Buffets.

You can choose from egg, chicken, vegetables, shrimp, tofu, Tempe (fried soybean tofu) and much more. Often the side dishes are prepared in a hot sauce.

By the way, many Indonesians like to eat their Nasi Campur with their (right!) Hand. Nasi Campur is also very popular “To Go” and is a kind of fast food because you don't have to wait until it is cooked.

Depending on where you order, Nasi Campur can sometimes be very spicy.

4. Gado Gado

Gado Gado is for sure one of the best vegetarian dishes in Indonesia. It's a lightly cooked one vegetable saladthat is refined with a sweet peanut sauce.

5. Sate

Sate is a small one grilled skewers, which are traditionally served with a sweet and savory to spicy peanut sauce. The most popular is clearly Sate Ayam (Chicken), but there are other variants, e.g. with beef (Sate Sapi).

On Lombok you really should Sate Tanjung try. This variant is only available in northwest Lombok and the skewers made from fish are simply delicious! Another variant only available on Lombok is Sate Rembiga. These tasty little beef skewers are known and loved all over Lombok (and even beyond).

6. Nasi Kuning

Nasi Kuning means “yellow rice” and it gets its color by adding turmeric. Here, too, there are various side dishes, for example chicken, eggs, etc. The selection, as with Nasi Campur, is large.

Nasi Kuning is also a popular breakfast dish or is eaten on special occasions.

7. Lalapan

At Lalapan you can get grilled or fried meat with different types of vegetables. Mostly cucumber, cabbage and long beans. In addition, of course, there is a serving of rice and a Sambal-Sauce served.

Lalapan is available with different types of meat: chicken (Ayam) or fish (Ikan). There are many types of fish to choose from, especially when it comes to fish. A very popular variant is also Lalapan Burung Dara = Pigeon. It may sound a bit unusual to some, but pigeon meat isn't all that bad. Even if there is not a lot of meat on it, at least with the Indonesian pigeons.

Chicken Lalapan does not normally use large and fat broilers, but whole small village chickens. This is the much healthier option.

8. Rendang

Rendang is usually a very sharp one Curry dish from beef. Even if there are other variants (e.g. lamb), rendang is usually made with beef.

The piquant and extremely tasty curry sauce has many ingredients that give it its unique taste. If the beef is tender, and doesn't necessarily contain bones or gristle, it's absolutely delicious.

9. Bakso

Bakso is one of the most popular soups Indonesia. Its main ingredients are pasta, meatballs and some vegetables. The soup is served with sweet soy and Sambal-Sauce, so that you can determine the seasoning and taste yourself. The meatballs are also available in different types, such as chicken (Bakso Ayam), Beef (Bakso Sapi) or fish (Bakso Ikan). Definitely try it!

10. Soto Ayam

Another popular soup in Indonesia is the chicken soup Soto Ayam. In addition to fine pieces of chicken, it includes pasta, vegetables and an egg.

11. Ayam Goreng / Bebek Goreng

Ayam Goreng or Bebek Goreng are fried chicken or fried duck. Sounds boring? It's not, because the fried chickens in Indonesia simply have a special taste. Of course, the (often very hot) Sambal-Sauce.

Here, too, it is common and popular to eat by hand with rice as a side dish.

12. Ikan Bakar

Ikan Bakar is just about grilled fish. That doesn't sound particularly spectacular, but it is! Indonesian grilled fish is some of the best I've ever eaten in the world.

What makes the dish so delicious is, above all, the sauce. You usually get it with a fiery-spicy one Sambal-Sauce served, sometimes there are other sauces. In addition, there is usually a serving of rice and some vegetables.

Ikan Bakar is best eaten by hand (as many locals do).

13. Pepes Ikan

Pepes is an Indonesian variant of cooking or grilling, in which the dish (mostly fish = Ikan) in Banana leaves is wrapped. So that the banana leaf does not fall apart during cooking or grilling, it is held in place with natural needles. This type of preparation gives the meat a special and intense taste. Delicious!

14. Urap (also Urap Urap)

Urap Urap is another dish that might be of particular interest to vegetarians. Usually, however, urap is a side dish.

It's a warm one vegetable salad, which especially its desiccated coconut make it unique. The Balinese variant of Urap is called, by the way Lawar.

15. Pecel Lele

Pecel Lele is a fried catfish, which e.g. also in Thailand as Catfish is known. As is so often the case, a tasty, spicy one is a must Sambal-Sauce in which you can dip the fish. On top of that comes Tempe and some vegetables.

16. Lombok only: Nasi Puyung

Nasi Puyung is one of my favorite dishes in Lombok! It is also one of the sharpest Indonesian dishes that I know. It originally comes from the village of Puyung, which is where it got its name from.

Like Nasi Campur, Nasi Puyung is white rice with various side dishes. The main ingredient is the extremely hot, very finely chopped chicken as well as soybeans and fried coconut flakes. Traditionally, it is served on banana leaves and eaten by hand.

An absolute must-try for anyone who likes to eat spicy.

17. Lombok only: Plecing Kangkung

For the residents of Lombok, especially the Sasaks, plecing kangkung is by far the most popular dish. The vegetarian dish consists only of boiled water spinach and a special one Plecing sambal Sauce.

Plecing Kangkung is a delicious side dish, but you can also order it as a main dish with rice.

18. Lombok only: Ayam Taliwang

Another typical Lombok dish is this grilled chicken. Again, a small, un-fattened chicken is typically used here. It is first pre-grilled, then pounded soft and finally provided with a delicious fiery sauce that provides a unique taste.

As you have probably noticed by now, many include Indonesian dishes Sambal. It's a sauce that comes in many different flavors. Mostly it contains tomatoes, lime juice, shrimp paste, garlic and of course plenty of chilies. In my opinion, a well-made sambal sauce is one of the tastiest sauces to be found in Southeast Asia. At least if you like to eat spicy.

For dessert or in between

19. Gorengan

Gorengan is a general term for fried food. Are specifically meant small fried snackswhich are mostly made from tofu, vegetables or bananas. You can often buy them on the street for a few thousand rupiah. Ideal for on the go or as a small snack for tours.

My favorite here is Bakwan. Bakwan are small cookies that are filled with vegetables and deep-fried. They taste even better when they have cooled down and eaten with a small green chili.

But also fried little bananas, Pisang Goreng, you should definitely try it. More tasty snacks are available Tempe (deep-fried soybean tofu), deep-fried tofu or Singkong (deep-fried cassava), which is somewhat reminiscent of potatoes.

20. Es Campur / Es Buah

This typical Indonesian Ice cream desserts are ideal after eating. But they are also great for cooling down in between. You can buy them both in restaurants and on the street at the small stalls, where you can get them in a bag.

These desserts mainly contain a kind of jelly or jellies of various colorful varieties, ice cubes, milk, syrup and, in some cases, fruit. All of this is then mixed (= campur) and results in a delicious and refreshing ice cream dish. Delicious!

21. Martabak

Martabak is a Indonesian pancakes, which you can also get in Malaysia or Singapore.

There are 2 Martabak versions: a sweet one (Martabak Manis) and a hearty one made with eggs and stuffed with meat (Martabak Telur). The sweet version is more reminiscent of a cake and tastes completely different than the egg version. You should still try both.

22. Rujak

Rujak is a fruit saladwhich contains a special sauce. This sauce tastes extremely sweet at first, but then becomes hot very quickly due to the chillies it contains.

You can buy Rujak almost anywhere on the street, when the Rujak dealers with their small cars usually draw attention to themselves with some kind of horn or other noises.

A very tasty salad, but depending on how it is prepared it can be very spicy. Since the sauce is prepared when you buy it, you can use “tidak pedas” to indicate to the seller that you don't want it to be too spicy.

23. Bubur Hitam

Bubur Hitam means something like “black porridge”, which doesn't sound particularly appetizing, but is definitely tasty. The black sticky rice is refined with coconut milk and sugar. I could also describe Bubur Hitam as a kind of sweet rice pudding.

By the way, you can find more tips on Indonesian dishes, delicious fruits and tips on how to eat in our Lombok travel guide.

And now you: what is your favorite Indonesian dish? What do you think is missing from this list? Let us know directly!

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Moin, I am Marcel! Blogger, author, web & graphic designer and digital nomad. I prefer to travel through Southeast Asia and discover beautiful beaches and delicious food there. My home base is Koh Phangan, Thailand. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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