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Beginner guide to Indonesia part 1/2: What to eat?

What to eat in Indonesia?

You won’t find it difficult to find something to eat. In most towns the restaurants and food carts (known as Warungs) can be found on

The spiky Durian: Not for everyone!

The spiky Durian: Not for everyone!

the corner of every street. Choosing, however, is all the more difficult: Indonesia’s great variety of both cultures and spices form the basis for a wide range of dishes, from spicy Taliwang chicken from Lombok to sweet Gudeg from Yogyakarta. The most famous dishes, such as Gado Gado, Soto Ayam, and Nasi Padang, can be found throughout Indonesia. If you really cannot choose, then go for Nasi Campur and mix whatever you like with your rice. Stock up on a few deep-fried snacks at a Gorengan before you continue your day-trip, and don’t forget to try some of the abundant exotic tropical fruits, like the Dragon fruit, Rambutan, or if you dare: Durian!

Where to eat?

There is nothing wrong with exploring the side streets and we would usually encourage you to go where nobody else goes, but not when it comes to food. Try to visit the warungs that are a bit busier so you can be sure that the food on display hasn’t been there since yesterday. Many food outlets boil, grill or fry your food after you order, so see if you can spot a grill in the front of the warung, that’s another way you can be sure your food has been properly heated.  In general with a bit of common sense you should be just fine; peel uncooked fruit and vegetables; don’t take ice-cubes in your drink; and with fish and meat: if it smells or looks bad it is probably bad. It is difficult to avoid the occasional stomachache, regardless of whether you eat in a restaurant or at a roadside warung, so sampling some of the great Indonesian street food is recommended!

left to right: A tyical farmers' market, a 'Gorengan' or deep fry, grilled sate

left to right: A tyical farmers’ market, a ‘Gorengan’ or deep fry, grilled sate

 What to pay?

You will find that most dishes bought in the warungs are not only full of flavor, but also inexpensive to most tourists. For those on a budget: meat dishes usually cost a little more and prices vary throughout Indonesia, but nonetheless, spending more than a few euros or dollars is a difficult exercise.

 

So… what to order?

Endless possibilities… Even if you make up your mind beforehand, you’re probably going to end up ordering something else.

Typical ingredients of Indonesian cuisine

Common ingredients in the Indonesian kitchen: Garlic and Chilis

Nasi Campur: (Mixed rice: top it with whatever you fancy)

Sate Ayam: Marinated chicken on skewers, grilled.

Ikan Bakar: Grilled fish

Rendang: Classic beef dish from Sumatra

Gado Gado: Salad from bean sprouts, egg, green beans and peanut/coconut sauce

Soto Ayam: Well-filled chicken soup

Pisang Goreng:  Deepfried banana

Krupuk: Deepfried prawn crackers

Sambal: Spicy sauce from ground chilis

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