What about the variety of foods in Indonesia?
Indonesia, the spice paradise
With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia has been a home of several travelers and foreigners for hundreds of years now. Indonesia has long been known for its wide range of spices. Since the islands are located among the main trading itineraries, it was easily accessible for traders. Many immigrants went to Indonesia mostly for business and trading exotic spices.
The most used spices today are chili pepper, coriander, cumin, and ginger. Indonesian also like to mix these spices with milder flavors which are sweeter or hot sauce for example.
Staples in Indonesia
Just like any other country in Asia, rice is a staple. It is eaten with meat, fish and veggies. According to Indonesian history, rice has been consumed for over 4000 years. Some ancient Indonesian meals were made of veggies, fruits, fish, bananas, yams, coconut and cane sugar. Rice is not only used for the main meal, they also use for sweet desserts and beverages. There are two types of rice: the long grain white rice and the glutinous rice. The glutinous rice is used the same way as in China. You can find it in cakes and other sweet baked or fried snacks. Rice is not that cheap and poor people rely more on yams or soybeans, which are more accessible foods.
Indonesian dishes are often fried, grilled, simmered or steamed and sometimes with coconut milk. Coconut milk is one of the important staples of the Indonesian cuisine. The meats are mostly beef, chicken, goat or lamb. As about 90% Indonesian are Muslim, pork is not a popular meat in the country …
The Indonesian cuisine influenced by several waves of colonization and immigration. The first to impact Indonesian cuisine were the Chinese. You can find a lot of Chinese-type foods in Indonesia such as noodles, soybeans, cabbage, or tea. The mode of cooking, stir-frying, also comes from China. One of the most popular dishes in Indonesia is Nasi Goreng.
Hindus entered the country around 100 BC and brought with them some more spices such as : curry, ginger, cumin, .. as well as foods such as onions, mangoes, eggplants and other typical Indian foods.
As for the Muslims who arrived a bit later, they added additional meats like Goat and lamb to the Indonesian cuisine as well as dishes cooked with cow milk. These dishes are now commonly cooked with coconut milk instead of dairy milk. So if you are lactose intolerant, it is going to be a perfect destination for you!
It is also important to note that since Islam is the main religion, about half of national holidays are dedicated to this religion. If you decide to go to Indonesia check first if it doesn’t fall on the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting and one of the main pillars of Islam. If you want to know more, you can read our previous article about traveling during the Ramadan month in Indonesia.
European and more specifically Portuguese brought a great deal of their cuisine. You have for example Cassava and sweet potatoes. Other veggies such as turnips or cauliflower came from Netherlands. Finally, we have the Spanish immigrants who brought corn, tomatoes, and chili pepper.
Regional local cuisine
Each island in Indonesia has its own twist to national meals. However, it seems that Bali’s cuisine is the most popular. Some popular meals include duck and pig meals. If you are Muslim or don’t eat pork, be aware that since Bali is not a Muslim region (see our article about religions in Indonesia), they widely eat pork and other meats. In Java, most proteins are cooked in pig or buffalo blood. In Minahasa, it is also common to eat mice or dog meals …
There are also some typical festivities foods
Some pastries and sweet treats are cooked in advance, a day before the Hindu Day of Silence called Hari Raya Nyepi. All activities are stopped during that day and even tourists are forbidden to go out.
Then you have Tumpeng, which are cones placed made of steamed yellow rice placed in the center of a plate full of veggies and other foods. This dish is usually eaten during important events such as marriage, etc. It is commonly eaten after prayers.
The typical day in Indonesia
For breakfast, Makan Pagi, Indonesians usually consume fried rice, soup or noodles with some coffee called Java coffee or tea for the one who are not coffee drinkers. Then you have lunch called “Makan Siang” and dinner, “makan malam”. The main component of each meal, is as you would have already guessed, rice! It usually is accompanied with some meat, fish, and veggies.
When it is a family, friend or business meals, just like in any other East Asian countries, dishes are placed in the center to be shared with everyone on the table. The dishes go from meats, veggies to sweet sauces and other small dishes.
When Indonesian want to eat some fruits, they would go for banana or Durian. Durian is a very smelly fruit but apparently tasty enought.
5 Best Indonesian Foods that You Should Taste
Travelling abroad means you will experience many things during your holiday. It would be incomplete if you have not tasted the local food when you visit a country. It is the same when you visit Indonesia. It is known that the country has lots of local cuisine meals and it would be a good opportunity for you to taste all of the local food you like. Actually, you can conclude the taste of Indonesian food exactly since you will find it in sweet, sour and spicy. Most of the things you will see are Indonesian foods using lots of spices. Here are several Indonesian foods that you must taste and try:
Soto is a traditional soup from Indonesia that you need to taste during your holidays. Well, Indonesia has many variations of Soto as every area has its own characteristics. For example, when you visit Jakarta, then you can taste Soto Betawi. It consists of angel hair noodle, lettuce, chicken breast, and coconut milk. You can have it with several condiments like tomatoes. In addition, when you visit Central Java, you need to taste Soto Kudus, the taste is very good as you can find it in the broth. Soto is one of the Indonesian cuisines you must try.
You might already be familiar with BBQ. Indonesia has this kind of dish as well. However, you need to taste this Indonesian style of BBQ called satay. This kind of satay is very delicious. There are several kinds of satay that you can taste like beef, chicken and lamb. It is served in the skewers and grilled until it is well done. Then, you should put on some peanut sauce to enhance the taste even more.
Nasi or rice is an ordinary indonesian meal you should try. Here, in Indonesia you must try Nasi Bakar. The rice is wrapped in banana leaves. However, it is filled with mushrooms, anchovies and so on. Then, it will be grilled to make the taste even more delicious.
There is nothing more delicious than ayam bakar. It is a roasted chicken which is cooked in advance using spices. Here, you will find that the taste of ayam bakar is sweet and delicious. Indonesian people used to have it with sambal or chili sauce. If you can hold it, then it is better to eat the ayam bakar on its own.
Martabak is one of the Indonesian cuisines you can easily find along the street. You can choose to have sweet martabak or salty martabak. Both of them are very tasty and you should try it as well.
Talking about Indonesian food is something that will never end. Those are the 5 best foods we recommend you to try. It is good for you to taste all of them since it makes you want to eat more.
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Three unusual delicacies that can be found in Indonesia
At nightfall, the streets of Indonesia are full of small food stands. Meat, soups, fritters, sweets: there are plenty to choose from…even some very unusual dishes.
Kopi Luwak coffee: poop coffee
Kopi luwak coffee is harvested from the feces of an Indonesian civet, the luwak.
The civet consumes cherries from the coffee trees, digesting their pulp but not their core, which is then found in his feces. In the digestive tube of the Luwak, gastric juices react with the beans, which gives the coffee a very elaborate flavor.
The coffee is produced mainly in the Indonesian archipelago: Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi. It is considered to be the most expensive coffee in the world, with a kilogram sometimes worth more than $1000 US.
Kopi luwak coffee: Author Wibowo Djatmiko
Bats burned with a blowtorch
Bats are served several ways in Indonesia, including cooked in stews, grilled, barbecued, deep fried, and in stir fried. Bats are considered healthy because they are high in protein and have a low fat content.
On the north of Sulawesi, locals eat bats that are known as flying foxes (their heads look like small fox heads). These bats are often burned with a blowtorch before being eaten.
Bats have a reputation for emitting a strong urine smell during cooking. It can be explained by the fact that bats spend most of their time in an upside-down position, during which urine leaks onto their bodies. Locals in Indonesia deal with this problem by washing them and preparing them with condiments like chili pepper, garlic, or onion.
Slicing a bat: Author Edwin S
Indonesians consume snake in various forms, but snake blood is of particular interest to the male population. Snake blood is believed to remedy the slackening of sexual desire. This is a very lucrative business; cobra sellers can earn about $30-50 each evening, which is a good wage in Jakarta. Often, customers do not make these purchases publicly. They arrive in a large car with tinted windows, never go out, and wait to be served inside their vehicle. Beyond cobra blood, numerous products derived from snake are offered for sale—ointments, oils, tablets—to treat pain, allergies, rheumatism, asthma, eczema, fatigue, and more. In short, the snake market is like an alternative pharmacy, where you can be treated without a prescription.
Draining the blood of a cobra snake
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