Food of Indonesia - 25 Dishes That Represent Indonesia on A Plate
Indonesia is home to some incredibly tasty cuisines. They are mouth-watering and irresistible. Food is always an integral part of your travel and exclusive to your destination. So when you travel to Indonesia, make sure to try these unique Indonesians dishes. They are sure to please your palate.
Here’s a list of 25 delectable food of Indonesia that you must dig-in when you are in The Spice Islands.
The dish consists of a variety of meat cooked over the coal and smoked and barbequed to perfection. The flesh varies from chicken, fish, mutton, duck, pork or rabbit. The meat is marinated in spices, and a special soya sauce before it is exposed to fire. The meat takes a while to grill over the coal and finally it is served with a variety of dips and appetisers like the spicy peanut sauce or topped with more soya sauce and chillies. It is sometimes served along with rice cakes or fresh cucumber toppings to compliment the smoky flavours of the dish. The dish has different variants across Indonesia, but the preparation is more or less the same.
Where to eat: Jal Sabang in Kota Pusat and Sate Ragusa at Gambir, Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 10
Gudeg is a famous food of Indonesia made with love and lots of time in hand. It is a jackfruit dish which is cooked with coconut milk, lemongrass, local spices and palm sugar. It is on the sweeter side but a must-try. It is Yogyakarta's traditional recipe. The fruit is cooked for a long time until it becomes tender and soaks all the flavours. It is accompanied by either a generous portion of rice or other meat like mutton, chicken, eggs or fried beef skin. It makes for a hearty Indonesian meal.
Where to eat: Gudeg Yu Djum Wijilan 167 and JL in Yogyakarta ApproxCost: USD 8.3
A bowl of meatball soup with a variety of meat including chicken, beef, pork or a mix of the three is Bakso all about. They are usually made from meat and tapioca. It makes for a delicious savoury dish. It is much loved amongst the Indonesians as it makes for a quick and convenient meal. The balls are thrown into a bowl of rice or egg noodles after which the flavourful broth is poured over. It is usually topped off with extra flavours of chilli sambal, crispy shallots, fried garlic and soya sauce.
Where to eat: Kafe Betawi at West Mall, Soto Madura and Bakso Akiaw in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 8
Sambal is not precisely a dish but an accompaniment. The secret of any spicy food of Indonesia is the Sambal sauce or chutney. A hearty portion is added to meals either during its preparation or eaten alongside a bowl to complement it. One can usually find it placed along with the sauces at any restaurant. The preparation includes a lot of chillies, fermented shrimp paste, sugar, salt, shallots and turmeric. It is pureed with pestle and mortar. There can be a variety of flavours like mango and mushroom.
Where to eat: Pedas Abis, Waroeng Spesial Sambal at Solo, Surakarta Approx Cost: USD 2 for 50 gm pack
5. Nasi Goreng
This dish is an eclectic combination of savoury, spicy and sweet flavours which will perplex you, but appeal to the taste buds. It is Indonesia’s spin on the preparation of fried rice. The steamed white rice is cooked in keycap, which is a soya sauce. It is prepared with chilli, garlic, onion, and tomato with a generous amount of shrimp paste. Veg and non-veg proteins are also added along while cooking- chicken, beef, pork, mushrooms, eggs, cabbage and lamb. The greasiness of this meal makes it a sumptuous dish. Nasi Goreng can never taste the same in the country. The flavours and the touch of cooking vary from place to place.
Where to eat: Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih, Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 4
6. Bebek Goreng
Bebek Goreng is a fried duck dish. It’s incredibly crispy because the duck is usually deep fried. The recipe is often prepared in a large amount of soy and oil. To cut through the greasiness of the fried duck, it is often served with sambal- the traditional chilli chutney, rice and salad include fresh veggies and some raw herbs like basil. The dish may seem a little salty at first, but it is one of the most favourite food of Indonesia.
Where to eat: Bebek Goreng H. Slamet in Jakarta and Bebek Bengil in Bali Approx Cost: USD 2.11 per piece
Pempek is a uniquely prepared fish and Tapioca cake dish. The fish cake consists of pureed fish and tapioca starch. It is cooked to perfection until it gets a chewy, bouncy texture. The fish is usually deep fried or grilled as per one’s taste and rolled in preparation. Alongside which, it is complimented with noodles and a sweet and spicy sauce. There are many variations to the dish, the most popular being Kapal Selam which is cooked with an egg in the middle. It is a wholesome and hearty dish. The best way to eat a Pempek is to dip it in a unique sauce called cuko, which is nothing but a mix of vinegar, sugar and chilli.
Where to eat: Pempek Palembang & Otak – Otak 161, Jalan Boulevard Raya Blok in Jakarta and Kebon Sirih in Palembang Approx Cost: USD 7
This food of Indonesia is for all the dumpling fans out there. Siomay is an Indonesian take on steamed dumplings which contains a variety of fillings that include fish, tofu, chicken, pork and more. They are commonly sold among vendors. If you eat from a local vendor, you need to ask for the fillings available there and then choose accordingly. These Siomay’s are best eaten with Sambal chilli sauce or the sweet and spicy peanut sauce. So if you are a dumpling lover, eating the Indonesian dumplings are mandatory. The alternated for a steamed Siomay is the fried Batagor.
Where to eat: Jakarta’s Chinatown- Glodok has vendors selling delicious Siomay, serving hot plates on their bicycles. Siomay Pak Lili, Jl. Geger Kalong Girang, Bandung Approx Cost: USD 1.11 per plate (In Glodok)
9. Beef Rendang
This dish holds the most popular position in Indonesian foods internationally. This dish holds in roots in the western region of Sumatra, commonly cooked by the Minangkabau people. It is a spin of beef curry, the difference being the gravy is rich and thicker. The prep time is about an hour or so. It is cooked with a lot of coconut milk, desiccated coconut and spices including cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, dry chillies, garlic, and shallots. There is another generous gravy version of it. Beef Rendang is not available or prepared everywhere, given the time taken to make the dish.
Where to eat: Nasi Padang restaurants. Rumah Makan Surya Masakan Padang in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 12.52
10. Nasi Padang
Not a dish but more like a culinary experience, this world-famous food of Indonesia is a plethora of dishes with a unique flavour and a touch of typical Indonesian spices. Nasi Padang food is typically seasoned with fresh curry pastes that include ingredients like turmeric, garlic, galangal, shallots, and a handful of herbs, along with coconut milk. There is a difference in Nasi Padang when you eat from a local eatery or a high-end restaurant. The local eatery gives you an option to choose from which will be served in one plate only while on the other hand, a restaurant will serve a variety of twenty dishes, making it a royal feast and you can pour it over your plate at your own pace. The accompanying dishes may vary from cow feet to fish head curries and Beef Rendang.
Where to eat: Garuda Nasi Padang in Sumatra. Rumah Makan Surya Masakan Padang in Jakarta, Indonesia Approx Cost: USD 13
11. Nasi Uduk
Nasi Uduk is a rice preparation in the typical Indonesian flavours. It is cooked with lemongrass, dry spices like coriander seed, bay leaves, pandan leaves and finally the all-important coconut milk. Cardamom is used occasionally. They are both sweet and savoury to taste. There are different regional varieties of Nai Uduk. It is served with a varied range of curries or simple fried chicken or the traditional sambal to eat along.
Where to eat: Nasi Uduk Zainal Fanani (also known as Nasi Uduk Kebon Kacang) and Nasi Uduk Babe Saman in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 6
The creamy beef soup is a soup packed full of flavours with a roasted peanut taste. It is dark, nutty and sour. It is not just a soup but includes beef organs like intestine and tripe. The soup is best eaten with some additional lemon, sambal and rice cakes alongside. The soup is best to relish with an accompaniment. It is one of the many Coto soup varieties and is one of the best. It takes a while to cook and boil. The boiling process cooks the meat and makes for a tender beef in the soup.
Where to eat: Coto Makassar Senen in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 2
Indonesia is not just about savoury delicacies but sweet ones too. It is a spin on crepes or pancakes (varying according to regions) with an Indonesian touch. The pancakes are way thicker than the usual ones filled with chocolate or anything sweet. There is a savoury take on the same which contains a filling of egg and minced meat, but this one is made with a different pastry which is crispy pulled. To add to some freshness of the dish, peeled cucumbers are served as well as soya sauce as a dip to accompany. Sesame seeds act as a garnish to both the variations. Martabak is not served all day long in any part of Indonesia. It is usually prepped and served in the evening and often serves as midnight snacks for the students.
Where to eat: Martabak Ayah in Aceh and Martabak 65A in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 6.71 (giant Murtabak piece)
14. Pecel Lele
A very conventional and classic street dish, Pece Lele is a fried catfish dish. This famous street food of Indonesia is served also in restaurants. This fish is locally known as warung as well. The Pecel Lele preparation is fast and straightforward. It just involves the basing of fish with salt and turmeric powder before frying the fish. The fish is then cooked to the last bit of it until it is completely soaked in oil and crispy. The portions served to vary from place to place. It can fit into a meal if it is served along with rice and green and red sambal. It makes for a delicious and wholesome meal.
Where to eat: Permata Mubarok 1 and Bakmi GM in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 10 (meal for four people for the whole catfish)
The dish is one which is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. It is flavourful and lip-smacking. It consists of different proteins- fish, mushroom, tofu or meat, the most popular being chicken. It is first wrapped around a layer of garlic, turmeric, chillies candlenut, mixed with shallots and lemon basil. After which it is wrapped in the banana leaf which gives the dish an earthy essence and aroma. The dish is packed with a herby taste.
Where to eat: Beautika in Kebayoran Baru and also popularly found in Bogor (street stalls and restaurants) Approx Cost: USD 5
16. Sop Buntut
Sop Buntut is an Oxtail soup. It is a very light clear soup, unlike the ones prepared in coconut milk. The soup is simmered in broth with shallots, salt, pepper, carrots and potatoes. To add further to the taste, nutmeg and cinnamon are added. It can be topped with kecap or eaten with rice. To top it off, some lime juice should be drizzled, and fresh herbs are to be added. This food of Indonesia is perfect to indulge on a nice rainy day to keep you warm.
Where to eat: Sop Buntut Bogor Cafe and Cut Meutia Mosque in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 2 (serves 2)
17. Kerak Telor
Kerak Telor is a dish which is grilled to perfection. It is a rice frittata and may take the shape of a pancake, but the similarities end there. It is made with sticky rice which is placed over hot charcoal. Then an egg filling is put over the sticky rice, and once the bottom is cooked, the other side is exposed to the grill. It makes for a smoky snack which can be relished easily on the go. It is a very famous street snack in Indonesia. It may have different fillings of chicken or duck instead of the egg. It is garnished with shallots and some desiccated coconut. The duck filling is mostly recommended. It may be costlier but worth the extra bucks. It is commonly a street food dish.
Where to eat: Found in an around National Monument in Jakarta and Fatahillah Square being sold by hawkers. (Usually after 4 pm) Approx Cost: USD 2
18. Mie Goreng
While in Indonesia, if you wish to eat a local Chinese noodle dish, then Mie Goreng is a must-try food of Indonesia if you're hunting for which is noodles with an Indonesian touch. It is a stir-fried noodle dish prepared in a wok with a lot of oil, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, cabbage, egg and a generous amount of the traditional Sambal chilli sauce. If you are looking for it, it is colloquially called Indomie instant noodles. They are tasty and spicy noodles; your palate is sure to love it if you are a noodle fan.
Where to eat: Street vendors (in every nook and cranny) and Sin Moy Kong Chinese Food in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 14 (plate for two)
Meat filled savoury steam buns are what Bakpao is all about. The fillings are all different sorts which include either chicken, beef or pork. The buns are soft and decadent. The fillings can also include chocolates, nuts and green beans, for those that want a sweet variant of the meal. They make for a healthy and steamy snack. The Bakpao is generally relished with a cup of coffee to sip on. Who would not like Indonesian hot steam buns?
Where to eat: Kedai Kopi & Bakpao Kwang Koan in Jakarta ApproxCost: Majorly differs from place to place and filling type.
20. Soto Betawi
Soto Betawi stems from the city of Jakarta, and the dish means Jakarta soup. This food of Indonesia is a dense and creamy preparation with beef at its prime, cooked with the staple coconut milk and cow milk, boiled with herbs like lemongrass and Indonesian bay leaves with flavours of galangal, candlenut, garlic and shallots. The soup is garnished with shallots and eat alongside rice and some Indonesian pickles. It is a culinary classic, and a must-try if you are in Indonesia.
Where to eat: Popular in every nook and cranny of Jakarta (local eateries and restaurants) Approx Cost: USD 10 (for two servings)
21. Babi Pangang
Indonesians are fond of pork. So along with a different version of fried fish and chicken, here’s a version of the grilled pork dish. The pork is well prepared with a smoky and chargrilled taste. It is made with a good portion with delicious and juicy flavours intact. It is coated with spices or marinated according to the variation and grilled to perfection. It is a bit on the saltier edge, but it well marbled. If you are a pork lover, this dish is a must try. It is best eaten with steamed rice or sambal.
Where to eat: Lapo Ni Tondongta, Jalan Gelora Los A1, Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia Approx Cost: USD 7 (Meal for 2)
22. Nasi Uduk
The rice which compliments almost every Indonesian curry is Nasi Uduk. It is the humble and staple rice of the Indonesian land- loved by one and all. It is cooked typically in coconut milk with herb flavours of lemongrass, bay leaves and pandan leaves along with dry spices like coriander seed, and occasionally cardamom. It is a very soft rice preparation with a sweet taste due to the addition of coconut milk. It is usually accoutred proteins and vegetables. It does also include soybean cake called Tempe; anchovies boiled eggs and nut-crackers. There is a spin to the Nasi Uduk regionally. The ideal way to eat Nasi Uduk is along with the sambal chilli paste. It makes for a hearty and wholesome meal and is also one of the most authentic food of Indonesia.
Where to find: Nasi Uduk Zainal Fanani and Nasi Uduk Babe Saman in Jakarta Approx Cost: USD 5.72 (serving a good portion for two)
If you think savoury is all that Indonesia has, then you are mistaken. Indonesia is also famed for its wide variety of indulgent desserts and Klepon is just one example of this. Klepon is nothing but sweet coconut rice balls. These rice balls come in two main varieties- Green Klepon (white flour based) and Black Klepon (black sticky rice). Biting into Klepon brings an burst of brown sugar in the mouth. It is extremely delicious. The contrasting flavours will surely leave you wanting more than just one.
Where to eat: Klepon is available in packets at local vendors or market. They are seldom or not available at street-side stalls. It is not sold as per piece usually but in a pack. So if you want to get a few packets to take back home, head to the markets. Approx Cost: Varies from vendors to markets
Kolak is delicious food of Indonesia that is prepared with a long list of ingredients which include banana, sweet potato, pumpkin and cassava. The preparation consists of diced pieces these ingredients prepared in palm sugar and the essential coconut milk. This happened to be a healthy dessert and consumed in high quantities during the month of Ramadan. The variations are just a difference in quality as some may use local ingredients while some preparations use variety and carefully picked imported ingredients from the most excellent places in the world. This directly reflects on the price of the dessert.
Where to buy: It can be found available in local markets and with some vendors of Indonesia and Best Kolak- Café Degan in Kuta, Bali Approx Cost: USD 28 - USD 70 (depending on the quality and variations)
25. Durian - The King of fruits
Similar to Stink beans, the durian fruit is rightly conferred the title of the king of fruits in Jakarta. It is popularly eaten all around the country. It is consumed raw or tossed into another preparation like ice cream or durian cake. The best of Durian’s use is in the Es Campur durian which is the durian flavoured mix shaved ice. It is excellent for the sugar cravings as it is a natural sugar outlet. There are different uses of the Durian which vary from region to region, some of which include Medan and Palembang durians.
Where to buy: It is available in local and supermarkets to purchase. Approx Cost: USD 1.34 (varies from markets to seasons)
Indonesia is a food hub and holds some of the best dishes in the world. People make sure to not miss out on the local as well as exotic food of Indonesia when visiting this beautiful country. So whenever you are here, try and taste some of the dishes listed here. They are a few of the best-picked classics of the country.