Indonesian Food and Cuisine

Local Dishes

Indonesian cuisine reflects the vast variety of people that live on the 6,000 populated islands that make up Indonesia. Indonesian cuisine is as diverse as Indonesian culture, and has taken on culinary influence from many sources. Throughout its history, Indonesia has been involved in trade due to its location and natural resources. Indonesia’s indigenous techniques and ingredients, at least in the Malay World parts, are influenced by India, the Middle East, China and finally Europe. The Spanish and Portuguese traders brought New World produce even before the Dutch came to colonize most of Indonesia.

In western and central Indonesia the main meal is usually cooked in the late morning, and consumed around midday. In many families there is no set meal time where all members are expected to attend. For this reason, most of the dishes are made such that they can last and remain edible even if left on the table in room temperature for many hours. The same dishes are then re-heated for the final meal in the evening. Most meals are built around a cone-shaped pile of long-grain, highly polished rice. A meal may include a soup, salad(or the more commonly sauteed vegetables with garlic), and another main dish. Whatever the meal, it is accompanied by at least one, and often several relishes that are called sambals.

In eastern Indonesia where the natives are more influenced by pacific islander cultures such as on the island of Papua and Timor, the meals can be centered around other sources of carbohydrates such as sago and/or grain.

Street hawkers and vendors are commonplace in Indonesia, serving a variety of foods.

The most popular dishes that originated in Indonesia are common across most of Asia, with satays, beef Rendang and sambals favored in Malaysia and Singapore. Soy-based dishes such as variations of tofu and tempeh are also very popular. In fact, tempeh is an adaptation of tofu to the tropical climates of Indonesia.

In most cities it is common to see Chinese dishes such as buns and noodles sold by street vendors and restaurants alike, often adapted to become Indonesian Chinese cuisine. One common adaptation is that pork is no longer used since the majority of Indonesians are Muslims. Street and street-side vendors are common, in addition to hawkers peddling their goods on bicycles or carts.

Indonesian meals are commonly eaten with combination of spoon in the right hand & fork in the left hand, although in many parts such as West Java it is also common to eat with your hands.

List of some common Indonesian ingredients

Spices: (Indonesian names in brackets) 

• Candlenut (kemiri)
• Galangal (laos)


• Lemon Basil (kemiri)
• Lemongrass (serai)
• Pandan (pandan) (P. amaryllifolius, a variety of Pandanus, used in kolak)

List of some popular Indonesian dishes

• Ayam Taliwang
• Bakmi Goreng
• Gado-gado
• Gudheg
• Gulai
• Karedok
• Nasi Campur or Nasi Rames
• Nasi Goreng
• Nasi Kuning
• Nasi Padang
• Nasi Pecel
• Nasi Rawon
• Opor Ayam
• Pecel
• Rendang
• Sate or Satay
• Soto or Sroto or Coto
• Tongseng

List of some popular Indonesian snacks

• Asinan Betawi
• Bakpia Pathok
• Geplak
• Gethuk
• Kerak Telor
• Klepon
• Kue Bandung
• Lemper
• Lontong Cap Gomeh
• Lumpia Semarang
• Martabak
• Nagasari
• Rujak
• Somay/Siomay
• Srabi
• Tempeh Bacem

List of some popular Indonesian drinks

• Bajigur
• Cendol
• Es teler
• Jahe Telor
• Serbat
• Teh Talua
• Wedhang rondhe
• Tehbotol

List of some popular Indonesian desserts

• Bubur Ketan Hitam
• Klepon
• Kolak
• Lapis Legit
• Lupis
• Pisang Goreng
• Tape Uli

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Latest Blog Post