If your trip to this Southeast Asian country is getting closer, it’s a good idea to soak up all the information you can so you don’t miss any traditional delicacies. That is why today we present you with a guide to Indonesian gastronomy and drinks, so that you dare to try some of its delicious native dishes and drinks.
You can be sure that you will always have a new food to try. Because it is made up of more than 17,000 islands (8,000 uninhabited) and has more than 300 languages, it is not surprising that its gastronomy is as rich as its culture.
6 Indonesian Dishes and Drinks You Should Try
From tasting the curious civet coffee (considered the most expensive in the world), to delighting yourself with one of the many variations of the classic lumpia. Indonesia offers its inhabitants and visitors a gastronomic tour for all tastes. And due to being a key point on the spice route, it shows with its food its great influence from Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and China.
1. Civet Coffee or Kopi Luwak
Civet coffee is one of the most expensive in the world.
This exclusive type of coffee is known to be the most expensive in the world, since a single cup in the West can cost more than 100 euros. For its preparation, the digestion of the civet (a mammal native to tropical Asia and Africa) that feeds on coffee cherries is necessary and during the digestive process a fermentation takes place that gives the expelled grain a great flavor.
What makes it so expensive is that the Kopi Luwak classification (which refers to civet coffee exclusively), must be digested by free-living civets and harvested by hand. Something that generates that a kilo of this variety can cost up to 1000 euros.
However, to produce that amount, cases of animal exploitation may arise. In this regard, the expert in coffee beans Arne Preuβ has been very critical and questioned the ethics behind this classification. But if you are not vegan and you are a lover of this drink, it is an experience that you must live while taking advantage of your visit to Indonesia.
2. Lumpia Semarang
The term “ lumpia” means ‘spring roll’ in Indonesian, and despite endless variations, Semarang lumpia is one of the most popular in the archipelago. Its name comes from the capital city of the province of Central Java and they are usually found in many fast food stalls on the streets of Indonesia, making it a perfect snack.
This specific variety is stuffed with bamboo shoots, shrimp, shallots, and eggs, among other ingredients. And it is usually accompanied by a delicious sweet and sour sauce with crushed garlic. It is a dish that can even be found filled only with vegetables for all vegans.
3. Mee Bakso
This food is considered by many to be the favorite of Indonesians, despite the fact that it is a street dish. It basically consists of a soup of meatballs (chicken or beef) and Hakka noodles that have a thick and flavorful broth. This thanks to the mixture of garlic, ginger, chili, carrot, chives and green and red peppers.
Bakso is a dish that is deeply rooted in Indonesian gastronomy . That is why it is very common to find it throughout the entire archipelago, with the Javanese being the greatest exponents. Since a large majority of Indonesians are Muslim, it is usually made with beef and chicken. Although on some islands like Bali you can find varieties with pork.
The Kary Ayam combines the best of chicken with a multi-spiced coconut milk broth.
Curry is a dish originally from India, but its influence has been such that some countries like Indonesia have adapted it to their ingredients. Kary Ayam is Indonesian curry and is made from tender chicken cooked in a creamy coconut milk broth and seasoned with spices such as turmeric, cumin and galangal.
This delicacy is perfect for those who like spicy food and is usually accompanied with white rice. In addition, it is a very popular preparation on the island of Java, where you can find specialized restaurants to taste it.
5. Smoothies and natural juices
Being an archipelago whose temperature is between 30-35 °C and a humidity of 80-95%, staying hydrated is a must. So cold water and tea are usually some of the most consumed drinks. However, being a tropical country, you can find a wide variety of freshly squeezed and refreshing fruit juices.
From a traditional coconut lemonade and mango, pineapple and papaya smoothies to more exotic fruit varieties such as soursop (sirsak) or avocado and chocolate juices. Also, during the month of Ramadan , families often break their fast at night with Sop Buah. A kind of very popular fruit soup that contains, among other things, mango, watermelon, grapes and melon, accompanied by syrup or condensed milk and ice.
6. Pisang Goreng
And for all those dessert lovers, you cannot leave Indonesia without first trying a traditional pisang goreng. A simple dessert consisting of fried banana accompanied by vanilla ice cream. A very light preparation that results in a crunchy layer on the outside of the banana and a sweet and soft interior that is complemented by the ice cream.
Indonesia is not just a country that hides paradisiacal beaches , monumental temples and highly modern cities. It is also one of the gastronomic cradles of the East, where you can amaze your palate with all the traditional preparations that each of the islands of the archipelago have to offer.
So follow this basic guide that we present to you today and keep an open mind to let yourself be surprised with new flavors, smells and textures. Because there is nothing like getting to know the culture of a new country through its typical dishes.