12 Indonesian Dishes One Must Try

By Halal Trip | 11, Nov, 2015
12 Indonesian Dishes One Must Try

Picking an official Indonesian dish is hard due to the variety of flavors and dishes that are available in the entire archipelago. Depending on the region's situation, the flavors and influences vary greatly. Whether it be Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, or European, these dishes are complex in flavor and leave you wanting more. Nasi Goreng and satay are probably the first things that come to mind when Indonesian food is mentioned. However, Tumpeng has actually been named the official dish of Indonesia. A cone-shaped rice dish – like a mountain – with meat and vegetables on the side, the ministry described it as “the dish that binds the diversity of various Indonesian culinary traditions.”.

1. Rendangrendang

Image Credit: Midori, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

CNNGo readers voted this dish the most delicious in the world for a reason. Mostly beef – but sometimes made with liver, chicken, goat, or other meat – the secret is in the broth. Cooked until the meat has soaked up all the flavors of the gravy and dried up, Rendang has you drooling for more!

2. Nasi Rawon

Rawon is popular in East Java and uses the keluak nut to get its deep brown color and nutty flavors. This is best soaked up with rice.

3. Satay

Mostly understood as chicken in peanut sauce, satay is actually just grilled chicken. The peanut sauce is however a staple in street food in Indonesia.

4. Siomaysiomay

Image Credit: Gunawan Kartapranata, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia’s version of dumplings, topped with the traditional peanut sauce. These steamed fish dumplings are often served with potatoes, cabbage, egg, and sometimes bitter gourd.

5. Bakso

Bakso – or Baso – are golf ball-sized meatballs (or bigger) made from chicken, beef, or even pork in some parts, that are a favorite amongst students. It is served with noodles or rice, vegetables, tofu, wontons, and garnished with shallots.

6. Gado-Gado

Here comes the peanut sauce again! Literally translated as “mix-mix”, gado-gado is a vegetable salad dressed in the classic peanut sauce.

7. Indomieindomie

Image Credit: Gunawan Kartapranata, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This might be a surprising entry on this list, but it is a food that Indonesia lives by! The easiest and tastiest meal made to-go, Indomie has such a large variety of flavors that one will never tire of instant noodles!

8. Nasi Goreng

One of the most popular dishes from this culture means “fried rice”, and it is some of the best-fried rice the world has had. Getting its flavor from a dark soy sauce called kecap (pronounced ketchup), it keeps the balance with acar, pickled cucumber, and carrots.

9. Sayur Asem

Indonesians show off their culinary skills with fried chicken to rival KFC. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, this dish will have you wiping your plate clean.

10. Pempek, aka Empek-Empek


Image Credit: Gunawan KartapranataCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Famous in South Sumatra, pempek is made from fish and tapioca and sprinkled with shrimp powder, and now comes in various shapes and sizes. The most popular one, kapal selam, literally meaning “submarine”, contains a chicken egg in the middle. Set your taste buds alight with cuka - a dark dipping sauce made from vinegar, chili, and sugar.

11. Nasi Uduk

Popular with lunchtime crowds due to its speed and price, this dish revolves around rice cooked in coconut milk and served with a variety of meats and vegetables. The standard side dishes include fried chicken, tempe (soybean cake), boiled egg, and anchovies, and are topped with emping (melinjo nut crackers).

12. Martabak

The Indonesian version of pancakes, this dessert is usually only sold in the evenings. Pick from sweet fillings of chocolate, cheese, or peanuts, or go savory with egg and minced meat. Savory martabak is crispy too, and served with pickled cucumber and sweet and sour vinegar. . Whether you’re a foodie or a newbie, Indonesian food will tickle your taste buds and will make you curious to try more!  

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