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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Indonesia

Indonesia Food and Drink

While 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 to be heavily 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 belacan.

Specialities

Rijsttafel: A Dutch-invented smorgasbord of various meat, fish, vegetable and curry dishes.
Nasi goreng: A traditional dish consists of fried rice and meat, flavoured with spices and accompanied with vegetables.
Ayam goreng: Fried chicken, a national staple.
Soto: Traditional soupy broth with meat and vegetables, and sometimes featuring chicken and noodles.
Sambal: A fiery chilli paste, a hot and spicy condiment to many dishes.
Bakso: Indonesian meatballs usually made from chicken or beef. A popular street food.
Sate or Satay: Skewers of beef, chicken or lamb, cooked on hot coals and served with peanut source.
Rendang: A speciality of Sumatra that consists of a densely spiced coconut beef stew.
Gado-gado: A Javan salad of raw and cooked vegetables with peanut and coconut milk sauce.
Babi guling: Suckling pig roasted on a hand-turned spit over an open fire, a delicacy in Bali.

Tipping

Tipping is not mandatory. However, if you want to tip, provide 5-10% of the total bill. Some restaurants will include 5-10% service charge to their bill.

Drinking age

21

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