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5 Classic Indonesian Foods You Should Try

classic indonesian food

Indonesia is a large country that is culturally diverse. This cultural diversity naturally spills into its great gastronomy. Like its Southeast Asian neighbours, Indonesia is fond of its rice dishes – as you will soon find out. Luckily for us, Singapore is one of Indonesia’s neighbouring countries. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to go far just to enjoy some good Indonesian food!

If you’re new to Indonesian food, let’s take a look at the five classic Indonesian dishes you should try:

1. Nasi goreng

Nasi goreng (fried rice) seems like a very simple dish, but it’s everything but dull. All Indonesians hold the rice in a particularly high place in their hearts; they revere it and genuinely cannot survive without it.

The basic Indonesian nasi goreng is rice flavoured with eggs, veggies, spices, and small pieces of meat – usually chicken, beef or seafood. In most cases, there will be shallots, garlic, belacan (shrimp paste), some chilli, and tamarind. In many homes, nasi goreng is prepared using leftover rice from the day before.

At Zoul’s Corner, you can enjoy the hearty nasi goreng dish with our ayam penyet speciality. There are also other nasi goreng selections for you to choose from our menu.

2. Sate

In Indonesia, satays are ubiquitous and widely available. If you pay attention to the smell and the smoke, you can easily find street sellers with barbecue kiosks. Though popular across Southeast Asia today, satays are considered to have originated in Java, inspired by Middle Eastern traders.

The meat is seasoned or marinated in small, diced pieces prior to grilling. All choices are available, including chicken, goat, beef, fish, and tofu. Slices of cucumber with either peanut sauce or soy sauce are usually served with satay together with ketupat – a rice cake wrapped in a palm leaf.

3. Tahu goreng

One of the most well-known delicacies in Indonesia that everyone is familiar with is tahu goreng, or fried tofu. Tahu goreng can be found anywhere in Indonesia. It’s a go-to dish for both home cooking and eating out in smaller warungs (eateries), plus it’s easy to prepare and satisfying.

In Jakarta, a city that’s notorious for its rush hour traffic, tahu goreng is also one of the most popular fried snacks that people eat while being stuck in traffic. You can usually expect peddlers to crowd around your car and sell you tahu goreng in the middle of the interminable traffic.

This simple and versatile vegan street food is often accompanied by chopped bird’s eye chillies and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).

4. Soto

Soto is a universal soup that has its roots in Java. Small chunks of meat, boiled eggs, bean sprouts, and other vegetables are served with the soup. For the soto Betawi in Jakarta, the meat will be prepared in coconut milk and served with steamed rice.

With noodles as a side dish, soto is often served with either chicken or beef or a mix of both. The broth is often also coloured yellow with turmeric. You can anticipate boiled eggs, fish cakes, begedil (potato fritters), shallots, and other toppings on top of the bowl of soto, depending on where you have it. 
You can enjoy a piping hot bowl of mee soto or soto bakso (meatballs) at Zoul’s Corner for a taste of the original Indonesian soto!

5. Ayam penyet

Indonesians are chicken lovers! And for good reason: unlike any you’ll get in other countries, the most well-liked are little, free-range birds with lean, nutritious meat. Although fried chicken thighs appear like a too simple dish, they can make a fantastic feast!The meat is first marinated in a concoction of local spices before being cooked in palm or coconut oil. The outside is crunchy and the interior is delicious! Ayam penyet (smashed chicken) is a variation of the dish where the fried chicken is smashed with mortar after frying, prior to serving.

Ayam penyet is usually served with sambal, slices of cucumber and cabbage, and fried tempeh or tofu. At Zoul’s Corner, the nasi ayam penyet is our very own award-winning speciality dish! You can also try out other penyet varieties such as the nasi sotong penyet (smashed calamari rice) and nasi udang penyet (smashed prawn rice).

Selamat makan!

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