A Brief Indonesian Food Primer

Bakso (meatball noodle soup)

Bakso (meatball noodle soup)

A big concern for many travelers is “What will I eat overseas?!”  There are so many TV shows these days that showcase international dishes that seem unusual, bizarre, or even downright unappetizing to Western palates. As entertaining as these shows might be, I think they do a disservice to would-be travelers.

Before we get into the basics of Indonesian food, let me tell you that the places we’ll be taking you in Bali & Lombok all have a huge Western food selection, as well: pizza, pastas, burgers, fries, etc. So, if you’re in need of some comfort food or familiar tastes, you’ll be well taken care of.  (BJ & I maintain that Ubud, Bali has some of the best Italian food in the world!)

One more note: Vegetarians will find plenty to eat in these areas, particularly with the addition of tofu and tempeh. Pescatarians (those who eat fish) will be in heaven, and we’ve successfully toured with Celiacs (allergic to gluten) in this part of the world with no problem.

Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng

Indonesian food is extremely accessible to foreigners, even though it may go by unfamiliar names. In addition, tofu and tempeh are easier to find in Indonesia than anywhere else in SE Asia. (Tempeh is a soy protein similar to tofu but less processed and with greater health benefits due to its fermentation. It’s actually quite delicious!)  Check it out!

  • Nasi Goreng = fried rice (Nasi means rice, and Goreng means “fried.”)  This can be served with meat or tofu/tempeh; typically has a fried egg on top and shrimp rice crackers on the side.
  • Mie Goreng = fried noodles (Mie = noodles).  Typically wheat noodles—think “Top Ramen” style.
  • Sate (satay) = BBQed meat (or tofu/tempeh) on skewers.
  • Bakso = meatball soup, but can be any sort of meat, including fish.
  • Gado gado = bear with us on this one, as it sounds off-putting but is delightful.  It’s a salad of cooked greens and sprouts with peanut sauce on top, served with tofu/tempeh, a boiled egg, and a fresh salad of tomatoes, cucumber, and sometimes green beans.  Typically also served with rice crackers. Somehow it all works, and is a solid vegetarian choice.
  • Gado Gado

    Gado Gado

    Lumpia = fried spring rolls

  • Cap Cay (chap chai) = stirfried vegetables, Chinese-style, with meat or tofu/tempeh
  • Beef Rendang = recently won a CNN Reader Poll for best dish in the world (click here for that story). This dish features beef that is slooooow cooked in a flavorful curry until you’re left with melt-in-your-mouth brisket-style beef with just hints of spice. Addictive.
  • Soto ayam = chicken soup

 

A Quick Glossary

Ayam = chicken

Ikan = fish

Tahu = tofu

Air = Water (I know!)

Teh = tea

Kopi = coffee  (note: coffee is served as a fine powder that is mixed with hot water, not usually a drip-brew.)

 

 

Lauren

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."Looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren

AROUND THE WORLD JOURNEYS

October 19 – November 12, 2020: Around the World: World Wonders Edition

Coming soon: Around the Buddhist World, early Autumn 2020!

 

THE GALAPAGOS

LADAKH (INDIA)

Stay tuned for 2020 Ladakh offerings, and click here to learn a bit more about Ladakh!

INDIA (EXCLUDING LADAKH)

EGYPT

BHUTAN

Want to add Bhutan on to your Asian journey? See PrivateBhutanTours.com for private tour options!


BUDDHIST JOURNEYS WITH TRICYCLE: THE BUDDHIST REVIEW

Walking with Buddha in India & Nepal, November 1–13, 2019

Pilgrimage to Sri Lanka with Tempel Smith, January 7–18, 2020

Coming soon:

  • Pilgrimage to Ladakh, Summer 2020
  • Pilgrimage to Mongolia, Summer 2020
  • Pilgrimage Around the Buddhist World, early Autumn 2020

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