HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Favorite Indonesian food?

I don't know anything about Indonesian food. What are your favorite dishes that I should try? Anything is fine, except fried foods.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like just about all things from many cuisines but when it comes to Indonesian food, I can't help but jump on the beef rendang. It's very beefy, but the seasoning is very exotic. You'll pick up right away on the chile - it's not typically spicy hot but does bring a little heat - and you'll find other complex notes of lemon grass, coconut, cumin, curry, and sometimes even kaffir lime leaves.

    If I have this dish with some rice and some acar (Indonesian/Malaysian pickled cucumbers w/ fruits), I'm set.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      i second the beef rendang. delicious, especially if you like coconut.

      1. re: bulavinaka

        I'll second the beef rendang as well, but there is a slight difference between the Indonesian and Malaysian versions. Less or no coconut milk in the Malaysian version from what I can tell.

          1. re: salutlemonde

            Make that a fourth, fifth and sixth here for beef rendang -- one of my favorite beef dishes of all time. Tender, rich chunks permeated thoroughly by a complex number of spices equal an array of flavors and tastes, spicey but not fiery, complex but not overpowering. With nasi lemak? Oh man, my mouth is flooding at the thought.

      2. I'd never walk away from a Gado Gado platter. Have you seen the new book by James Osland? Cradle of Flavor Cooking from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. A beautiful book and a great read too.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          Wow - how timely for me... I just went to Malaysia and Singapore after my last visit 11 years ago... Thanks for mentioning this book...

          1. re: bulavinaka

            i got it out of the library and ordered it immediately. Osland is the editor iin chief of Saveur. He goes into grest detail. I am taking my time reading it thoroughly before starting to cook

            1. re: Candy

              Great that you're savoring the pages... these cuisines can be very complex and sourcing some of the critical ingredients can be challenging her in the States, but getting easier in LA. Good look and great eating!

              1. re: bulavinaka

                We have a very international mix in this town. I can even find candle nuts. Sometimes I am amazed at what we have here and sometimes I am frustrated by what we don't but Indy is an hour north and if I can't get it here then I can go there. I am alsp always looking for an excuse to go to Jungle Jim's in Cincinnait. An amazing placeIt also helps to have a good friend who is Indonesian

          2. re: Candy

            I took this book over to my Dutch and Indonesian friends home on Saturday. It was instant lust for them. They did not want to give it back. They both commented on how authentic the recipes are and how well explained and that Osland knows his stuff. I was lucky to get home with it. If you have any interest at all in this cuisine it is the book to own.

            1. re: Candy

              You've already sold me - I thumbed through two book stores on Friday but no luck... will probably just order it online... thanks again for this keeper...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                I ordered through Amazon, discounted, no tax and free shipping.

              2. re: Candy

                Great read! So entertaining and well-written, the book practically permeates in spice aromas. It sat on my shelf, an unread gift until this thread. Thanks for the reminder.

                1. re: Kris P Pata

                  I got this book as well! t's very nice!

            2. My fave is a west Java dish made of cassava (yuca) leaves, spices, some pork fat, and a bit of coconut milk. Can't recall what its called.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Oh man - I can almost taste it... Is it a stewed dish? Sauteed?

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Funny...sort of stewed and sauteed at hte same time. Steweed?

              2. Of course, the national dish (more or less) is Nasi Goreng.

                This means fried rice, but it has bits of chicken, shrimp, egg, veggies...whatever. It's not deep fried, but it is pan fried - not sure when you said "fried" if this is taboo or not.

                I don't know if it's food or not, but sambal olek (chili sauce) can be absolutely fantastic.

                1 Reply
                1. re: salutlemonde

                  Sambal olek is a great intro to the sambals of this general region. My FIL is Malaysian-Chinese and makes a mean Sambal Belacan. I don't recall all of the ingredients but pulls out a huge pot and cooks an enormous amount of chillis where the seeds and veins have been tediously removed, belacan (shrimp paste), coconut milk, garlic, shallots, peanuts, and peanut oil. He also has a version with dried anchovies added in. This one with nasi lemak is the best I've personally tried.

                2. Fried foods, especially deep-fried foods are a very integral part of the Southeast Asian cuisines, so it can be hard to completely avoid it. But one dish that comes to mind that the OP might enjoy, especially now that it's mid-summer, is Rojak. It is a Malay version of fruit salad that relies heavily on fresh tropical fruits, jicama, cucumbers, bean curd (usually deep-fried but light), shrimp chips (again deep-fried), belacan (shrimp paste), tamarind, some sort of sweetener like sugar or honey, peanuts, and chilli. There are other versions but what I've described is probably the most common. This sold by street vendors as well as cafes and restaurants. All ethnicities seem to have their own take on it - Malay, Chinese, and Indian, while each region will have its own version as well.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    bulavinaka, one reason I like NE Thai-Lao food is that little frying is involved.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Sam the Man, where haven't you been?!?! You really need to be writing at least a couple of books... the stories that you amass in one year are a lifetime's for most...

                  2. a thirteenth or fourteeth for the rendang, and a second on the Gado Gado..

                    1. Satay from a street vendor, rojak (an acquired taste), and nasi goreng.

                      1. Allright very original, haha, Rendang!!!! it's amazing! Just made indonesian food tonight (if you can't find it, might as well make it, haha) we made Aubergine Petjal (Eggplant in a peanutty curry, yum!) Sambal Goreng Telor (sambal eggs) and Sayur Lodeh (vegetables in coconut curry sauce. is all very tasty!
                        If you're going to an indonesian restaurant, go for the Rijsttafel! Here you will get several small dishes. It's very nice and you get to taste different things! (and yes, most rijsttafels come with Rendang!)

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: mariekeac

                          Grrrrrrreat meal and great rec on the Rijsttafel...

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            Second that. Sounds great. mariekeac, can you share the eggplant recipe? Thank you.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Aubergine Petjal

                                1/2 Tsp Salt
                                1 Large Eggplant (Peeled & cut in Cubes)
                                Groundnut Oil (i used Argan Oil, yum!)
                                4 Shallots (finely Chopped)
                                2 Garlic Cloves (chopped)
                                1 Tsp Shrimp Paste (Trassie Bakar)
                                1/2 Tsp Galangal Powder (i used 1 inch of bruised fresh galangal)
                                8 fl oz Coconut Milk
                                1 Tsp Tamarind paste (didn't have paste so used Tamarind water instead)
                                1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
                                1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
                                1 Tbsp Palm Sugar (or light brown sugar)
                                4 oz Roastedpeanuts (coarsely ground)

                                Rub the salt all over the eggplant and place in a steamer above a pan with boiling water. Steam the eggplant for about 5 minutes, until it is just tender. Drain and set aside.

                                eat the oil in a wok, add shallots & garlic. Fry over gentle heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the shrimppaste (smelly!!!! haha) and galangal, fry for another 3 minutes.

                                Add the coconut milk, tamarind, soy, sambal and sugar. Stir well and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the steamed eggplant and cook genly for another 5 minutes. Add the ground peanuts and cook for 2 minutes.

                                Serve curry with rice.

                                This is the recipe from a cookbook I always play a little with amounts and times... I added extra sambal but it's very easy to make and soooo tasty!

                                Enjoy cooking!!!

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    you're welcome sam! have fun cooking!