I think that all Indonesian cuisine is pretty fantastic, but here is a list of the best of the best. These are the foods that you absolutely have to try when you are starting out experimenting with Indonesian food.
- NasiGoreng: One of Indonesia’s signature dishes, NasiGoreng is a plate of fried rice topped with an egg and served with prawns, chicken, salted dried-fish, goat, or any meat that works with your taste buds. There are also veggies mixed in as well as chilies.Kerupuk are often served on the side. Kerupuk are Indonesian crackers and can be found accompanying many different meals.
- Mie Goreng: Usually made with the same ingredients as NasiGoreng, but it is made with fried noodles instead of fried rice.
- Mie Ayam: If you haven’t figured it out yet, “Mie” means noodles. Another noodle dish, Mie Ayam is served with chicken broth and topped with chicken and dumplings.
- Bakso: This is a personal favorite. Bakso is Indonesian meatballs that are served in chicken broth, with rice, or with noodles. They are topped with celery and shallots.
- NasiUduk: A popular dish in Jakarta, NasiUduk is rice cooked in coconut milk. Coconut is commonplace in Indonesian cuisine and this dish is no exception. The coconut rice is often served along with other dishes, or just on the side of fried tempe or AyamGoreng.
- BuburAyam: This is actually a breakfast dish, though it is not going to be any kind of breakfast dish that you are used to. Where American cuisine is filled with savory and sweet, the Indonesian breakfast will include ingredients we don’t usually for breakfast. The dish is a rice porridge that is served with chicken cakwe, which are Chinese crullers, fried shallots, and scallion. This is very popular and you are sure to find it in Jakarta if you ever go for a visit. Unfortunately, it is uncommon for Indonesian restaurants in the United States to be open for breakfast, so may not find this one on the menu.
7. Sate or Satay: This you have probably already had before and not realized it. As Indonesia’s diverse recipes come from many different influences, sate is found in many different cultures. It is skewered meat that is grilled and served with peanut sauce, not too different from a kabob. They are often served from street venders and are easy to eat on the go since they are portable. And their smell will make your mouth water. So delicious.
8. MartabakTelor: Martabak is usually a savory dish, but Telor is the dessert version. It is sweet and made with an array of different toppings, including chocolate, cheese, peanuts, bananas, and occasionally Nutella. It is like a thick buttery pancake and very tasty.
9. Soto: A traditional Indonesian soup, Soto is made with a chicken broth and seasoned with turmeric. The dish can be different depending where you are and will range greatly in color, flavor, and appearance. Think of it like Indonesian gumbo. The turmeric will usually turn it a shade of yellow. There is typically chicken, eggs, rice, and fried shallots, but other ingredients may be added.
10. Ketoprak: Also a traditional Indonesian food, Ketoprak is usually a street food. Its primary ingredient is compressed rice cake, bean sprouts, and a peanut sauce. A variation on it is Gado-gado, but it has more in the way of veggies than Ketoprak does. And, as is the case with many Indonesian dishes, eat a good helping of Kerupuk with it to be able to fully enjoy it.
There are so many different kinds of Indonesian dishes out there due to the cultural diversity that this is only a very small sampling of everything that Indonesia has to offer. I just say try everything that you can and your taste buds are sure to be surprised.