There are many reasons why we fell in love with Indonesia, we told you already about the best places to visit in Indonesia (its paradise islands and incredible wildlife is something unique to see), but another reason why we love the country so much is because of their food.
Today we are going to tell you all about the famous food in Indonesia, we will talk about why is it so delicious, about its spices and herbs, and of course, we will tell you which are the best Indonesian dishes.
Top 10 most popular Indonesian dishes
Although we should do a list wit the 100 best foods to try in Indonesia, it would take us forever and it would be really hard for you to pick your favourite. For that reason, we have decided to do a shorter list with just the top 10 Indonesian dishes you can not miss. Believe us, if you ever visit the country, don´t forget to try all of them!
1) Nasi Goreng
On first place, we are going to start with the one considered the national dish of Indonesia, it´s known as Nasi Goreng, but you will easily recognise it as Indonesian fried rice.
Calling it by fried rice may be too simple, but this popular Indonesian dish is actually famous for having a very intense flavour. It´s served with many spices, fried egg, vegetables, kerupuk and chilli sauce.
A very interesting fact about this Indonesian food is that it was originally made to avoid throwing away the leftover rice, and that´s why you won´t be surprised if you find out that they eat it for breakfast.
2) Indonesian Satay
Another very common food in Indonesia is the Satay, which is basically a meat skewer cooked in a very different way than the one we are normally used to do it.
The Satay is generally cooked over coals, and it´s served with rice and garnished all over with a peanut sauce. It´s also recognised as one of the 5 national dishes of Indonesia.
As soon as you travel to Indonesia, you will see that they eat all over the country as it is the most authentic Indonesian street food. It´s cheap and delicious, so you won´t have any excuse for not trying it.
3) Sop Buntut
If you are visiting Indonesia and you want to try one of their most luxury dishes, we would advice you to try their Sop Buntut or also known as the Indonesian Oxtail Soup.
The recipe of this traditional food of Indonesia is a combination of frying the oxtail and mixing it with a soup of vegetables (tomato, carrot and potatoes normally work well on this dish).
Indonesian people love this typical meal as it is very healthy, but you should also know that it´s very heavy and you will get full quickly.
If you are a big fan of Indonesian street food, you will love the Siomay. As it happens with many other street foods of Indonesia, the Siomay is also served with a peanut sauce (Locals love it)
This traditional Indonesian food is a fish (or shrimp) dumpling normally steamed with potato, egg, and cabbage, and as we said it is very common in the street markets.
The Siomay is a version of the Chinese dim sum, and actually its origins are in China, but they have made their own version in Indonesia.
We don´t know why Indonesian love spicy food so much, but the truth is that all of the cultural foods of Indonesia are a bit hot.
Imagine how crazy they go for spicy food that they don´t only have spicy noodles or rice, they also use spicy condiments for chicken and fish!
The rica-rica is a spice mixture used in chicken, meat and fish, just so you can have an idea of how hot it is, the word rica is used when something is very spicy. Anyway, unless you can´t deal at all with spicy food, we still recommend you trying it as it´s a delicious sauce.
6) The Gudeg
Gudeg is an Indonesian stew and a very popular recipe from the province of Yogyakarta, well, actually, is their national dish.
The stew´s main ingredient is the jackfruit, and it´s the reason why the Gudeg is so sweet. Other than the Jackfruit, this typical food of Indonesia is also made with coconut milk, palm sugar and some other spices from the area
If you have the chance of trying it, we truly advice you to do it. This food is very hard to make and you will need to be patient if you are going to try to make it at home.
7) The Lumpia
They can be confused with the Chinese spring rolls or even with the French crepes, they are known as Lumpia and it´s a traditional food from Indonesia and the Philippines.
The lumpia is made with a crepe-style pastry named lumpia wrapper which has some sweet and savoury flavour.
You can either eat this famous Indonesian food as a snack, main course or even as a dessert if you decide to put some sweet ingredients inside. It can be eaten either fresh or fried.
Have you ever heard of the Tempeh? The tempeh has become an international food all over the world, but it was first known in Indonesia, more concrete in the island of Java, where it´s very popular.
The tempeh is basically an Indonesian soy product, and it´s made from fermented soybeans. After a fermentation process, the beans end up having a cake form. They use a special fungus called tempeh starter.
There is one Indonesian dish made with tempeh that you must tr, it´s the tempeh kecap, which is based on frying the tempeh and mixing it with the kecap spicy sauce.
9) Snake Fruit
Although it´s not one of the most popular foods in Indonesia, it´s becoming very famous in many countries of southeast Asia. Yes, we are talking about the Snake fruit, which it has a weird and different taste, but once you start eating it, it will be hard to stop.
The snake fruit is known that way because of its shape and texture, as you can see in the picture, is very similar to the skin of the snake. It´s actual name is Salak or Salacca Zalacca.
You will find this Indonesian food in almost every street food market, but let us give you one tip, do buy them and try them, but don´t eat many of them at the same time because it can be bad for your stomach.
10) Beef Randang
We are finishing this list with one of the most popular foods of Indonesia, the Randang, a famous dish traditional from Padang, a city located in the island of Sumatra.
The Radang is a beef dish very similar to the beef curry but without the broth, it has a very rich flavour and it´s a little bit spicy as well.
Indonesian people love this meal because it takes a lot of time to get to the perfect level of tenderness from the beef and they don´t have it much often. We advise you to try it.
Other interesting facts about Indonesian food
That was it about our list of the top 10 best Indonesian food, hope you are able to visit Indonesia one day soon and try all those dishes and many more. Before living us, we are going to tell you some interesting and fun facts of the Indonesian food that you will appreciate learning.
Why is Indonesian food so spicy?
The first fact about Indonesian food is about its spiciness. As you have already seen on the dishes we mentioned you before, a majority of them are somehow spicy, but why is that?
Indonesian food is rich in flavour and spices, they love to add spices to every dish and many of them are hot, so they are now use to it and they always ask for more.
Don´t believe them if they tell you that a dish is not spicy, because their tongue is way more use to it than what you can imagine. If you are trying to avoid spicy food, don´t try dishes that contain “rica2”, the foods with its name finishing in “balado” and of course, do not ever try the nasi tempong.
It´s not a typical Indonesian meal if it doesn´t go with rice
That´s right, we spent 9 days in Indonesia, and we ate rice every single day, and sometimes twice per day. The use of rice in Indonesia is as common as the use of bread in Spain.
Imagine how popular is rice, that there is a goddess of rice! It´s known as Dewi Sri and is very popular in Bali, maybe it´s the actual reason why they have rice on every meal?
The Indonesian cuisine has a strong influence from the Chinese
Indonesian locals are already used to eat all the original Chinese dishes, that´s why they may never recognise that those foods are not traditional from Indonesia, but from China.
The truth is that a great number of Chinese immigrants have decided to move to Indonesia and live their lives there, they have brough with them their original recipes like the bakso meatballs, the bakmi, or even the popular siomay.
Many of these dishes have adapted in their own way to the Indonesian style cuisine and now are a bit different from the original Chinese food.
Eating together is a must!
Last of all, if you want to know what is to have an authentic Indonesian food experience, you must know that eating together (with family, friends, partners…) is something they do every day and it´s a tradition they always respect.
Although younger people do it less often, you will find that a majority of Indonesian locals would meet together to share food and portions of different dishes.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the famous Indonesian food!
That´s it, that´s all you should know about the famous Indonesian dishes, as you have seen they are very unique and we definitely recommend you trying them all to have an incredible experience of what Indonesian food is like.
We know there are many other delicious Indonesian foods, so if you have any other recommendation in mind, do let us know in the comments.
Hope you enjoyed reading our article about the top 10 popular Indonesian foods, and if you have any other question, we would love to help you with it.