Showcasing the Mediterranean diet and Asian diet  

Indonesian cuisine




Grains, vegetables and fruits

The foundation of an authentic Indonesian meal is rice (nasi). In fact, rice is such an important part of an Indonesian meal that all other foods served with it are simply seen as an accompaniment. Rice is usually plainly boiled or steamed, or is sometimes cooked with coconut milk and spices. The Indonesian version of fried rice, called Nasi goreng, is another popular way to enjoy rice.

Noodles, made from rice or wheat flour, are also used in dishes such as mie goreng (fried noodles) or added to curries.

The tropical climate throughout most of Indonesia makes it green and lush, and ideal for growing a wide range of vegetables and fruits.

The vegetables most commonly enjoyed include onions, garlic, scallions (spring onions), chili, bell peppers (capsicum), cucumber, shallots, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and carrots. These vegetables are eaten in curries; used to make soups, salads and flavorsome side dishes; or added to fried rice and noodle dishes.

Fruits are typically enjoyed as a dessert and snack, and are sometimes used to add a sweet accent to savory dishes. Popular fruits include bananas, mangoes, papaya, lychees and more exotic varieties such as durians, mangosteens and rambutans.

Fish and seafood

Indonesia is made up of over 13,000 islands, so it's little surprise that fish and shellfish are eaten regularly. A countless variety of fish are eaten, and popular shellfish include shrimp, scallops, crab, squid, oysters and mussels.

Fish and shellfish are enjoyed in many ways: wrapped in banana or pandanus leaves and barbecued or steamed; added to curries, fried rice and noodle dishes; marinated and grilled on skewers; or added to soups and salads.

Meat, chicken and eggs

Traditionally red meat is eaten sparingly throughout Indonesia. When beef, lamb or goat is eaten, it's often in the form of a curry such as Rendang, or it may be marinated and cooked on skewers.

Chicken is eaten regularly and is enjoyed in rice and noodle dishes, curries, and soups (such as the spicy chicken soup Soto Ayam). A popular Indonesian appetizer is chicken satay—marinated chicken pieces grilled on bamboo or wooden skewers and eaten with peanut sauce.

Eggs are enjoyed in moderation. Sliced boiled eggs or strips of omelet are often used to garnish rice dishes and salads.

Legumes and nuts

Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are used regularly in Indonesian cookery. Bean curd (tofu), which is made from soy beans is used in a variety of traditional dishes. Tempeh—made from fermented, coagulated soybeans—is also popular. It has a nutty flavor and a firm meaty texture, and it soaks up the flavors of the foods it's cooked with.

Green beans are a popular addition to salads, vegetable dishes and curries. Bean sprouts are also eaten regularly and are commonly added at the last minute to hot dishes for a contrasting crunchiness.

Peanuts are typically used as a garnish (either crushed or whole) or ground into a paste and mixed with spices and coconut milk and water to make peanut sauce. This rich sauce is used as a satay dipping sauce or is drizzled over Gado gado (a colorful salad of mixed vegetables with contrasting flavors and textures, garnished with sliced boiled eggs).


Traditional Indonesian cuisine relies on hot, salty, sweet and sour flavors. Soy sauce and sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) add richness to hot and cold dishes, and are used in marinades and as a condiment. Trassi (shrimp paste) is a dark brown concoction of salted and fermented shrimp, and is used to enliven and add depth-of-flavor to food.

The fiery heat of chili is an ever-present part of Indonesian cookery. Chili is either thinly sliced and used fresh, or ground into a paste to make a hot chili sauce such as sambal oelek.

Richly-flavored Indonesian curries rely on ground spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric. These spices are also used in sauces and marinades. Other common seasonings include garlic, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, basil, cilantro, tamarind, and lemon and lime juice.