Food and Drink in Indonesia

Make sure you get the most out of the food and drinks of Indonesia...

Across Indonesia's 6,000 inhabited islands there is a variety of cuisine to suit even the most eclectic of tastes. Over the centuries, traders, pirates and adventurers were attracted to the region due to its prime location on the trade route and its botanical resources. The main attraction was the vast array of spices that grew in the area. Many cultures valued these highly for their healing properties, trade value, scents, and their ability to disguise tastes in food.

Indonesian cuisine varies between regions and islands. As it has been influenced heavily by Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese and European involvement in the islands over the years, Indonesia doesn't have a single 'Indonesian' cuisine but has regional variations, formed by local cultures and differing outside influences. Food is usually fried or stewed and accompanied by a variety of sauces.

With over 17,000 fertile islands and a population of over 235 million, Indonesia is home to a great variety of fresh fish, vegetables, spices, rice, chilli and fruit. All of these items are evident in abundance in the rich and varied cuisine of the country. Hindu or Buddhist areas of the country have foods that include ingredients such as cumin, coriander, caraway and ginger. Food in areas that were converted to Islam by Middle-Eastern traders typically contain dill and fennel.

Indonesian food is usually prepared in the morning and laid out on the table to be consumed by the family as the need arises throughout the day. Usually taken as snacks, most Indonesian meals are eaten quickly and practically. The exception to this is during festivals, when elaborate food is prepared and eaten communally making for a more special occasion.

As a predominantly Islamic country, a characteristic of Indonesian food is the use of halal meats in its preparation.