Asian cuisine is one of the best in the world, with fresh ingredients, balanced flavours and herbs and spices that make things both lively and delicious! Indonesia is home to an awesome range of dishes that are totally different to anything else on the continent but that pack the same punch. While each island’s cuisine has its own character, you’re sure to find many dishes that you’ll fall in love with. To save you doing the research, we’ve chosen our top Indonesian dishes (and sometimes where to find the best) so you can add them to your bucket list for your next visit.
Sweet, salty and slightly spicy sate (or satay as it’s known elsewhere in the world) is one of life’s great pleasures. This simple dish of skewered meat marinated in nuts, sauces and spices is a must try in Indonesia. The skewers are cooked over hot coals giving them a light smoky flavour which only adds to the indulgence!
Nasi Goreng/Mie Goreng
The goreng siblings are a classic among Indonesian cuisine that you will find in every cafe, restaurant or roadside shack across all of the islands. The names literally translate as fried rice (Nasi Goreng) and fried noodles (Mie Goreng). While every chef will have their own take on the dish, they generally include meat, seafood or vegetables and are quickly fried over a high heat. Some are served are with a fried egg or omelette and most will have a little salad on the side. This is a great cheap meal or light snack that you can make your own with the addition of extra sauces or spices.
Bebek Bengil (at the restaurant in Ubud of the same name – called Dirty Duck Dinner in English!) is one of the best Balinese/Indonesian dishes of all time. This dish comprises of crispy duck that has been both steamed and fried and is served up with veg, steamed rice and salad. It’s best just to get stuck in with your fingers and savour the flavour of this mouth-watering dish.
Another one for meat lovers is babi guling, or suckling pork. The spit-roasted pig is stuffed with a whole range of spices and is slowly cooked over coals to ensure the meat is juicy and tender while the skin is crisp. This meal was originally a celebratory dish among local communities but luckily for us it’s now available in restaurants across the country.
Ikan Bakar is another classic that is served in slightly different ways depending on where you are. Essentially, Ikan Bakar is grilled fish cooked over coals that has been marinated in an array of sumptous spices. You’ll want to pick the freshest catch of the day to ensure the light flavours of the ocean shine through among the spicy sambal sauce.
Rica-rica is a hot and spicy dish that originates from Northern Sulawesi. The curry-style dish is thick and saucy and is packed with fresh vegetables, red chillies, shallots and tomatoes to make a recipe to die for! A decent rica-rica can be found at Bramakusu Masakan Khas Manado in Jakarta!
Pepes originated in Western Java but this scrumptious street food snack has now spread across multiple islands in Indonesia. Pepes translate as ‘herbal packet’ but trust us, they are much tastier than they sound! The packets are made up of fish, meat, veg or tofu that have been cooked in a range of herbs and spices and wrapped up in a banana leaf.
This sweet treat is a delicious Balinese snack that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Pisang Rai comprises of boiled banana coated in rice flour and shredded coconut and is absolutely heavenly. It may be served street-side, wrapped in a banana leaf or as a tempting desert with pineapple in sugar syrup in a restaurant.