A taste of Indonesia

As I said in my previous story I got a chance to come home to Jakarta for christmas and new year. I kinda needed it as I wanted to spend time with my family. Last time I went home was in summer 2015 but I spent most of the time travelling around Java that I didn’t spend enough time with my family. So this time I didn’t really see or wander around, even in Jakarta, and only spent all my time with my family and friends.

But I ate a lot. I gained two kilos on my first week home. I tried to resist as much as I could but with the fatty greasy yet tasty Indonesian food, I admitted defeat.

In this post I would like to introduce some of the food that I ate during my trip. In Jakarta everything changes faster than in anywhere around the globe – normal for a city with twelve millions habitants and counting. Hence the food trend also changes quickly.

Indonesian cuisine has a lot of influence from different parts of the world. During colonization era (up to the end of WW2) we had a lot of mix between Malay, Western, Indian, and Chinese cuisines. That’s also why most of the South East Asia countries have some common food. Nowadays the influence from Japan, Korea, Europe, and South America have become more pronounce in our cuisine.

Well first it’s impossible to pack all the flavors into one blog. Unfortunately you will not find rendang (One of the tastiest dishes in the world) nor durian (the king of fruit) in here. Since my family is of chinese descendent, majority of my food may fall into this category. This also means, contrary to the majority of Indonesian that don’t eat pork, I do eat pork. Finally most of the food in here came from Java or Sumatra region.

There are six food groups in here: Rice/noodles, vegetables, seafood, meat, dessets, and fruits. Some of the pictures are unfortunately steamy.


  1. Nasi goreng (Fried rice)
    Of course the must try food and the one that is relatively easy to receive is the fried rice. Instead of using soy sauce such in other variety or fried rice, Indonesian fried rice uses sweet soy sauce in the making. It is often served with fried shallots, pickles and emping (melinjo cracker) or prawn cracker.


    Oxtail fried rice

  2. Bakmie/Kwetiauw Bangka
    Another delicacy from Bangka (in Sumatra island) is their bakmie/noodles. So the noddles are boiled, – basically – mixed with soy sauce and pepper, and then served with bean sprouts, grean onion, and chicken meat. Chicken broth is usually served separately. Since Bangka produces good quality of white pepper, most of the cuisine has pronounce heat from the pepper. The noddles can be substitute by kwetiauw (rice tagliatelle or wide vermicelli) or bihun (rice vermicelli).


    Kwetiauw Bangka

  3. Bakmie Babi (Pork noodles)
    So this is definitely of Chinese influence. It’s similar to Bakmie Bangka, but instead of using chicken as topping, it uses different processed pork meat.


    Bakmie babi with a lot of pork topping and half hard-boiled egg


  1. Gado-gado
    Gado-gado (literally translated into mix and mix) is an Indonesian salad, dressed in peanut sauce. It is known to come from Jakarta. The salad itself is a mixed of different local steamed vegetables. Different from Vietnamese or Thai salad, we don’t use fish sauce in the mixture of the peanut sauce and so the flavor profile tends towards sweet and spicy rather than tangy.



  2. Karedok
    Another variant of Indonesian salad is karedok, that instead of using steamed vegetables we use raw vegetables. (Picture above with grilled fish)
  3. Sayur asem
    Sayur means vegetables and asem/asam means sour and can also refer to tamarind. The main spice would be shrimp paste and tamarind to prepare the broth. Then the vegetables such as corn, long/string beans, young jackfruits, melinjo, and peanut, are brought to boil inside the broth.


    Sayur asem

  4. Gulai nangka/Gudeg (Jackfruit curry)
    Gulai nangka is a vegetarian dish. Nangka means jackfruits so we use the young unripe but meaty jackfruit and make a curry (with coconut milk and palm sugar) with it. In Jogjakarta or Central Java it is known as gudeg. Gudeg is usually served with hard-boiled eggs and chicken and krecek (stew of crisp beef skins).


    Gudeg with rice, tempeh, and krecek


Indonesia is a seafood paradise. It’s one of the things that I miss when I’m away. When I’m home I prefer to full myself with these fresh seafood.

  1. Ikan bakar (Grilled fish)
    With the abundance of the seafood in Indonesia, the easiest and quite favorite treatment for fish is to grill them. Ikan=fish and bakar=grill. In Java, the fish is often grilles with sweet soy sauce and chili.


    Ikan bakar with sweet soy sauce and Karedok above

  2. Lindung cah Fumak
    This is more of Chinese influence where crispy eels are sautéed together with Fumak vegetables.


    Lindung cah fumak

  3. Ikan tahu tausi
    Another Chinese influence where a whole fish is fried and then mixed with tofu and salted black bean.


    Ikan tahu tausi

  4. Ikan asam manis (sweet and sour fish)
    Another Chinese influence where a whole fish is fried and then mixed with tomato ketchup and julienne carrots.


    Ikan asam manis

  5. Kepiting saos padang (Chili crab)
    The crab is sautéed in chili-ketchup sauce mix


    Kepiting saos padang

  6. Udang rebus (Steamed prawn)
    In this Bangka influenced steamed prawn, prawns are steamed with water, sugar and galanga.


    Steamed prawn

  7. Pempek
    Pempek is a fishcake basically made by mixing fish (duh) and sago flour (can be replaced by tapioca) and other ingredients. The famous pempek came from Palembang (South Sumatera). Palembang’s pempek is normally boiled and then fried. However since my father came from Bangka (close neighbour of Palembang), the variety of pempek is slightly different where we eat it both boiled and fried. The pempek is served with rice vermicelli and dry shrimp with black vinegar sauce, and condimented with cucumber  and dry shrimp.


    Basic boiled pempek


  1. Sate/Satay
    Basically a skewer with any type of meat you want and served with either peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce. There also exist other sauces to use as condiment from different region of Indonesia.


    Sate with peanut sauce (bottom) and sweet soy sauce (top)

  2. Dendeng balado (Spicy jerky)
    It’s a spicy stew beef that you slice or hammer it into thin slices and then fry it or dry it.


    spicy jerky

  3. Siomay
    Siomay is definitely came from Chinese influence, that is a dumpling stuffed with ground pork and shrimp. As the majority of Indonesians are muslim, the pork is substituted by fish meat and served with peanut sauce and key lime juice. Nevertheless the original pork siomay still can be found.


    Fish siomay

  4. Soto ayam
    Soto ayam is an Indonesian yellow chicken soup. The yellow color came from turmeric, as the soup is served with rice noodles, half hard-boiled egg, shredded chicken meat, and lime juice.


    Soto ayam

  5. Babi Hong
    An old chinese recipe that steamed pork belly with a mix of soy sauce, ngo hiong paste, and a bit of ang kak. The pork is steamed until it becomes tender and juicy.


    Babi hong


Indonesia does not have a lot of pastry. Most of our desserts are cakes or dry cake. With the hot weather we also like to eat/drink shaved ice and mix it with fruits and syrups.

  1. Shaved ice
    Shaved ice is a popular dessert in Indonesia. It is mixed with your preferred syrup. The shaved ice in the picture has been influenced by the need of capturing interesting food pictures culture where the shaved ice is formed into animals or other cute form to attract attention.


    shaved ice

  2. Es teler
    Very common in Indonesia where the shaved ice is mixed with coconut, grass jelly, avocado, jack fruits, and condensed milk. This is more a traditional form than the previous picture.


    Es teler

  3. Serabi
    An asian pancake made of rice flour and coconut milk, served with durian sauce.



  4. Onde-onde
    Is made of steamed sweet potato mixed with glutinous rice flour or tapioca flour (depending on the family culture). It is then boiled in a palm sugar with ginger soup.



  5. Tapai
    Is a sweet fermented cassava. Other variety can be made from rice.


    Cassava tapai

  6. Bika ambon
    This cake is made of tapioca flour, eggs, sugar, yeast and coconut milk. The common form would be a normal rectangular cake shape, but in Bangka we do it in a small round mold.


    Bika ambon

  7. Kue soes
    Is an adaptation of choux and may be brought during Dutch colonization in Indonesia. The original one is stuffed with pastry cream.


    Kue soes

  8. Martabak
    Another pancake type of dessert made in a cast-iron pan. The pancake is then covered with a lot of butter, chocolate, cheese, or sugar peanut. In the picture is the recent trend by putting different grated chocolate including green tea chocolate. It is however not as tasty as the original one.




Located in the equator line, Indonesia has mostly the tropical fruits. Here are some examples of them:

  1. Starfruits
    This star shape fruit isnot unique from Indonesia, but the variety can grow very big with our tropical climate. It has yellow color and contains a lot of water inside.
  2. Mangoes
    A very staple fruit in Indonesia with at least five different varieties (size, shape, taste, perfume, sweetness). It goes with everything from deserts to rice.
  3. Mangosteen
    It is believed to be originated from Indonesia.  the outside skin is a bit thick but not hard. Once peeled, the fruits composed like an orange with white color. It is relatively meaty and juicy. Can be sour or sweet depends on your luck.


    Starfruit, mangosteens (dark purple), and mangoes

  4. Salak
    I believe that salak is an Indonesian native and very common in Bali region. The skin is rough and rather sharp. The inside fruit is not that juicy and can be sour.



  5. Srikaya
    Is also known as sugar apple. When ripe it is very tasty with meaty texture like cooked jackfruit.



3 thoughts on “A taste of Indonesia

  1. A luscious and most interesting glimpse of Indonesian food some of which I am familiar with and some not. Food cultures and the way they knit and meld fascinate me.

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