Indonesian foods we didn’t know about (but do now!)

Indonesian food doesn’t get out much. It’s not something we’ve seen in the West before, despite the abundance of Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Vietnamese and even Malaysian places.

We obviously haven’t managed to experience it all, but having visited the beaches, cities, jungles and stayed in both high-end hotels and village-style homestays alike we think we’ve had fairly decent exposure to the cuisine. One major takeaway? Egg is everywhere! Whilst it was generally pretty nice, it’s safe to say we were looking forward to Malaysia by the end…

Some of the stuff we’ve had now:

Nasi Goreng/Mie Goreng

The archetypal Indonesian dish – seems to be had for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Nasi is rice, Mie is noodles and it’s essentially ‘spicy fried’ and topped with an egg and some pickled vegetables.

Sambal

Like super spicy Indonesian tapas. Eaten with rice and your hands, it’s a chilli/garlic mix that comes in many varieties at incredible prices. You order a few small vegetable and protein plates to come with it and dig in. It’s a group occasion, and we were the only westerners in the local warung where we went for a Sambal session. We tried unripe mango stalk and ‘green’ – a herb version that was hotter than the sun.

Rendang

We had always thought Rendang was Malay, but more fool us! This stew like cuisine hits two spots – the crushing need for a curry and the warming hug in a bowl of a beef stew.

Satay/Sate

We know this one, of course. Didn’t realise how prevalent it would be in Indonesia though – it’s a phenom, often had as a whole meal.

Tofu/Tempeh

Tempeh is like a poor man’s tofu – easier to make and ultimately less to it. We spent a morning watched tofu made from scratch and can confirm it’s waaaaaay better then our supermarket bought version! Has an actual flavour, rather than acting as an absorbent.

Jackfruit

Obviously this is getting bigger in the West now, but it’s huge in Indonesia. Curries, stirfries, smoothies, you name it. Gudeg – stewed jackfruit – is considered one of the regional specialities of Yogyakarta.

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