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Indonesia Food and Drink

Whilst Indonesia cooking has some similarity to the cuisines of nearby Thailand and Malaysia, its history as a key stop on the spice route means the diet has been highly influenced by the trading empires of Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and China.

The staple diet for most Indonesians is nasi (rice), but this is swapped on some islands with other starchy foods such as noodles, corn, sago, cassava and sweet potatoes. Coconut milk is used extensively in sauces and soups.

Indonesians like their food highly spiced, with an emphasis on ingredients such as lime leaves, lemongrass, tamarind, cloves, cinnamon and chilli. Be wary of the tiny and fiery hot red and green peppers included in salads and vegetable dishes. Seafood is a regular feature on menus and many dishes are flavoured with shrimp paste, known as terasi or belacan.


Rijsttafel: A Dutch-invented smorgasbord of 12 various meat, fish, vegetable and curry dishes.
Nasigoreng: Considered the national dish it consists of fried rice, flavoured with spices and usually eaten with accompanying vegetables.
Ayam goreng: Fried chicken, a national staple.
Soto: Traditional soupy broth with rice cakes and noodles, often with chicken or beef.
Sambal: A fiery chilli sauce condiment served with every dish.
Bakso: Indonesian meatballs usually made from chicken or beef.
Sate: Skewers of beef, fish, pork, chicken or lamb, cooked on hot coals and dipped in peanut sauce.
Rendang: A speciality of Sumatra; a densely spiced coconut curry with lime leaves and buffalo meat.
Gado-gado: A Javan salad of raw and cooked vegetables with peanut and coconut milk sauce.
Babi guling: A roast suckling pig, a delicacy from Bali.


10% is normal unless service charge is already included in a restaurant bill.

Drinking age

21 (from December 2017).

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