5 Traditional Indonesian Dishes
Most people have never tried traditional Indonesian food before and don’t really know what the popular dishes are! There are very few Indonesian restaurants in America. Only those who have traveled to Indonesia, have tasted the unique and flavorful Indonesian dishes.
Almost every Indonesian meal comes with rice. Indonesians have a saying “If you have not eaten rice, you have not eaten.” Even if they have eaten a full meal, if there wasn’t rice, they call their meal a snack. Most Indonesian farmers grow rice (77%) and 60% of rice production is grown on the island of Java.
Indonesian dishes are full of spices. They usually add “sambal” (a chili-based sauce) to most meals. Dishes aren’t complete unless they have a hearty dollop of this spicy condiment. Sambal is a combination of chilies, sharp fermented shrimp paste, tangy lime juice, sugar and salt all ground together with mortar and pestle.
Nasi Goreng is the Indonesian version of fried rice. It is a staple and the most famous dish in Indonesia. Usually Nasi Goreng is made with vegetables and chicken and comes with a fried egg. The rice is then topped with pickled carrots and cucumber, and fried onions to give it an even more delicious flavor.
If you would like to make Nasi Goreng at home you can follow this recipe! One ingredient you need to buy is the Nasi Goreng paste. You can find this paste at an Asian market near you.
Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay) is a tasty dish where meat skewers are marinated in turmeric and placed over hot coals. Indonesians use a fan to waft away the smoke as they cook. Once the chicken is ready, it is then served with rice and a creamy peanut sauce on top with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
Indonesians also barbeque goat, duck and rabbit for sate dishes. The barbequed meat with peanut sauce and kecap manis makes the perfect savory combination. This dish is a favorite among many people!
Mie Goreng is the famous Indonesian fried noodles. This delicious dish is served with chicken or shrimp. You can make Mie Goreng by frying egg noodles with cabbage, bean sprouts, garlic and chicken then adding spices and kecap manis. The same paste used for Nasi Goreng can be used to make Mie Goreng. You can then garnish the dish with chopped scallions and tomato wedges. Like most other Indonesian dishes, Mie Goreng can look different depending on which area of Indonesia you are in. The picture above is Mie Goreng from the island of Java.
Indonesians have many different types of Soto (soups) that they prepare. Common street versions are a simple, clear soup flavored with chicken, goat or beef. One famous soup is Soto Ayam which is Indonesia’s chicken noodle soup. There are also yummy soups that contain coconut milk like Soto Resah which is infused with coconut milk, turmeric and spices. Jakarta’s 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 Uduk is rice steamed with coconut milk, lemongrass, and bay leaves. If you love coconut flavors this is the rice for you! It is a flavorful rice that you can easily make in your kitchen! Nasi Uduk is usually served with meat, vegetables and tempe (soybean cake). Indonesians also eat it with strips of egg, roasted peanuts and cucumber slices. Try making Nasi Uduk in a rice cooker or Instant pot using this recipe.
Stop by your local Asian market and see if you can find Indonesian spices and pastes to make these amazing traditional Indonesian dishes! If you are nearby Austin, TX visit Twin Panda to try some delicious authentic Indonesian food. Enjoy!