Indonesian Specialities

Discover some of Indonesia's main regional and national dishes...

National Indonesian dishes

Although diverse, Indonesia has numerous dishes that are found throughout the country. A few of the most popular include:

  • Nasi goreng (literally 'Fried Rice' in Indonesian and Malay): A fried rice dish that usually refers to either simple pre-cooked fried rice, a meal including fried rice as an accompaniment, or a one-pot dish with a combination of spices, eggs, vegetables, meat and seafood
  • Nasi campur: A steamed rice dish served with mixed vegetables and meat
  • Nasi rames: Rice and vegetables served with a fried egg and a variety of meat
  • Ikan pangang: A whole broiled fish marinated and basted with spices, coconut, chilli, lime and ginger - served with a sauce accompaniment
  • Mie goreng: A fried noodle dish combined with egg
  • Gado-gado/Lotek: A mixed vegetable and tofu salad covered in a peanut sauce dressing
  • Satay/Sate: A marinated and skewered meat or fish dish, grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire and served with spicy seasonings. Usual ingredients may include chicken, mutton, beef, seafood or tofu
  • Soto/Sroto: A soup with various regional variations and varieties, but traditionally including broth, meat and vegetables

Regional Indonesian dishes

Every area of Indonesia has its own traditional dishes that have evolved over the years according to their influences and raw produce. The archipelago nature and the size of the country have made the differences in the cuisine from region to region more apparent than in most other countries. A few traditional dishes from various regions can be found below:

  • Bali: Dishes such as Lawar (pork or chicken blood and meat mixed with coconut, garlic and chilli), Betutu (spicy stuffed duck or chicken steamed in banana leaves) and Babi guling (Balinese style roast pig) are all found on the popular tourist island of Bali
  • Java (Central): Renowned for their sweetness, dishes such as Gudeg (sweet Jackfruit curry), Kelepon (rice and flour balls with a sugar filling), Nasi liwet (rice with coconut milk, papaya, garlic, shallots chicken and egg) and Opor ayam (braised chicken in coconut sauce) have become synonymous with the region
  • Java (East): Dishes from here are similar to central Java but are slightly less sweet and spicy, Eastern Java cuisine has many dishes containing seafood such as Longton Kupang (clam soup and rice cakes), Pecel lele (deep fried catfish with rice), Sate klopo (grilled beef and coconut on a skewer) and Bakwan, Malang (wonton, noodle and meatball soup). Many dishes also contain terasi/petis udang (shrimp paste) for flavouring
  • Java (West): West Java, or Sunda, is home to the popular fresh dish called Karedok. It is prepared using beans and cucumber with a spicy sauce. Other regional dishes from this area include Colenak (cassava with a coconut sauce), Mie kocok (beef and egg noodle soup) and Soto bandung (beef and vegetable soup containing lemongrass)
  • Sumatra (North): Thought to be heavily influenced by Middle-Eastern and Indian traders, the area of Northern Sumatra still contains traces of the ancient heritage. Coconut dishes like Kare and gualai curries were traditionally made with beef, chicken, goat and fish but have now been adapted to include tofu, fruit and vegetables. Other specialities in the area include babi panggang (roasted pork marinated in vinegar and pig blood) and Ayam namargota (chicken cooked in spices and blood)
  • Sumatra (South): Pempek/empek-empek (deep fried fish dumpling) and pindang (spicy fish soup with soy and tamarind) are very popular dishes in the city of Palembang in the southern area of Sumatra
  • Sumatra (West): Within the typically hot cuisine of western Sumatra, buffalo plays a large part in many recipes: Rendang is a spicy buffalo dish while Ampiang dadiah is made from buffalo yoghurt, rice, coconut and a sugar syrup. Western Sumatra is also the home of the popular cuisine of 'Padang food'.
  • Sulawesi (North): The northern area of the island of Sulawesi features Minahasan cuisine. This has been shaped in part by foreign influences on the island. Brenebon (pork and bean stew with nutmeg and clove) comes from the Dutch words 'bruin' meaning 'brown' and 'boon' meaning 'bean'. Other dishes of the area include meats from animals such as bat, dog and forest rat
  • Sulawesi (South): Famed for its fish markets, the city of Makassar in southern Sulawesi is a culinary hotspot in Indonesia. Dishes such as Coto (beef and offal broth), mie kering (sliced chicken with dried noodle and gravy) and pallu basa (beef and coconut spiced curry) are considered delicacies of the region