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10 Most Popular Indonesian Street Foods You Should Try

Try These 10 Popular Street Foods When You Come to Indonesia— Cheap and Delicious!

Indonesia has so many vibrant street food cultures, with a wide variety of delicious and affordable dishes available throughout the country. Each region and city has its own specialties, making Indonesian street foods more diverse and exciting to explore.

Here are some popular Indonesian street foods you should try when you visit the country:

A food street seller is making something at his "gerobak".
Source: Unsplash

1. Satay

Satay or known as “sate” is a skewered and grilled meat (usually chicken, beef, or goat) served with a flavorful peanut sauce. The sellers serve it with a side of rice cakes (ketupat), sliced cucumber, shallots, and a bowl of peanut sauce for dipping. Some variations may also include additional condiments like pickles or sambal (spicy chili paste). Indonesian people love this food because of its aromatic flavors, tender meat, and the combination of savory grilled meat with sweet and nutty peanut sauce.

There are some common types of Indonesian satays, such as Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay),  Sate Kambing (Goat Satay), Sate Sapi (Beef Satay), Sate Babi (Pork Satay), Sate Lilit (Minced Satay), and Sate Padang.

Source: Unsplash

2. Nasi Goreng

It is a popular Indonesian fried rice dish that is commonly enjoyed as a main course. It is a combination of vegetables (sliced cucumbers or carrots), meat (such as chicken, shrimp, or beef), and extra spices. You can also add some fried eggs and “krupuk” (prawn crackers). It is a versatile dish, so you can customize the food with various ingredients and flavors.

People love nasi goreng because of its savory flavors, fragrant aroma, and delightful combination of textures from fried rice, protein, and vegetables.

3. Martabak

Martabak is a popular Indonesian street food that comes in two main varieties: martabak manis (sweet martabak) and martabak telur (savory martabak). Both versions are incredibly delicious and often enjoyed as a snack or light meal. Here’s an overview of each type:

  1. Martabak Manis (Sweet Martabak): a thick, sweet pancake filled with a variety of delightful ingredients. The seller will pour the batter into a round pan and cook it until golden brown. There are some popular options for the fillings, including chocolate, cheese, peanut, and condensed milk.
  2. Martabak Telur (Savory Martabak): a savory stuffed pancake that resembles an omelet or a thick crepe. The fillings can include ground meat, eggs, vegetables, and seasonings.
Source: Unsplash

4. Bakso

It is one of the most popular Indonesian street foods that consists of meatballs served in a flavorful broth, often accompanied by noodles and various toppings. It is a versatile dish and has so many variations. You can easily find the food across different regions of Indonesia. Some variations may include additional ingredients such as sliced beef tendons, fried dumplings, or vegetables. It is also common to find street vendors who offer different sizes of meatballs, ranging from small to jumbo, allowing customers to choose their preferred size.

People love bakso because of its comforting flavors, hearty texture, and combination of tender meatballs, noodles, and savory broth. It is a popular choice for a quick and satisfying meal in Indonesia.

5. Soto

Want to try something hearty and flavorful? Then you can try Soto! It is a traditional Indonesian soup dish that is made with a clear or mildly spiced broth, with aromatic herbs and spices. People enjoy the versatility and regional variations of Soto so it becomes their comfort food.

Here are some popular types of soto in Indonesia:

  1. Soto Ayam (Chicken Soto): it is one of the most common types of soto in Indonesia. It features a clear chicken broth flavored with aromatics like lemongrass, galangal, and garlic. It typically includes shredded chicken, rice vermicelli, and bean sprouts, and is garnished with fried shallots, sliced scallions, and fresh herbs.

  2. Soto Betawi: a specialty from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. It has a rich and creamy broth made with coconut milk, beef, and aromatic spices. It often includes beef chunks or offal, potatoes, tomatoes, and emping crackers. It has a slightly sweet and spicy flavor profile.

  3. Soto Madura: this one comes from Madura Island in East Java. It has a robust and spicy flavor. The broth is made from a mixture of beef and chicken. Indonesian people usually blend the food with spices, including coriander, turmeric, and ginger.

  4. Soto Lamongan: it is a popular variation of Lamongan, a city in East Java. It has a lighter broth compared to other types of soto. The broth is made from chicken and seasoned with garlic, shallots, and turmeric. People serve it with lime juice and sambal to make it tastier.

  5. Soto Kudus: Soto Kudus comes from Kudus, a town in Central Java. It has a clear and aromatic broth made from chicken, garlic, and lemongrass. The distinguishing feature of Soto Kudus is fried tempeh (soybean cake) and emping crackers as toppings.

Source: Unsplash

6. Gado-gado

It is a popular Indonesian salad dish that features a colorful mix of blanched or steamed vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and hard-boiled eggs, all generously dressed with a rich and flavorful peanut sauce. You can enjoy it as a main course or as a side dish.

You can enjoy gado-gado as a standalone dish, but you can also eat it with rice or lontong (compressed rice cake) on the side. It is customary to mix all the ingredients together before eating to ensure that each bite is coated with the delicious peanut sauce. So many people love gado-gado because of its combination of textures, from the crispness of the vegetables to the creaminess of the peanut sauce. It offers a harmonious blend of flavors, ranging from sweet and savory to slightly tangy and spicy. Gado-gado is a nutritious and satisfying dish that showcases the diversity of Indonesian cuisine.

7. Ketoprak

It is a popular Indonesian street food dish that originated in Jakarta. It is a flavorful and filling dish that combines various ingredients, including rice vermicelli noodles, tofu, bean sprouts, and lontong, all served with a spicy peanut sauce.

Ketoprak offers a combination of textures, from the softness of the rice noodles and tofu to the crunchiness of the bean sprouts and emping crackers. The peanut sauce adds a rich and savory flavor to the dish. Ketoprak is known for its satisfying and balanced taste, combining sweet, savory, and spicy elements. It is a popular street food in Indonesia, often found at food stalls and street vendors.

8. Pempek

Pempek, also known as “empek-empek”, is a popular Indonesian dish that originated in Palembang, South Sumatra. It is a type of fishcake made from a mixture of ground fish and tapioca flour, served with a tangy and sweet vinegar-based sauce.

There are different types of pempek, each with its own unique shape and size. Here are some popular variations:

  1. Pempek Kapal Selam: The inside of this variation of pempek is a whole hard-boiled egg.
  2. Pempek Lenjer: It is in the shape of a cylindrical roll and has a chewy texture. The seller will serve it with the cuko sauce to make it more flavorful.
  3. Pempek Adaan: It is a small, round fishcake that is usually served in a bowl with the cuko sauce and slices of cucumber.

Pempek is a beloved street food in Indonesia and people enjoy it as a snack or light meal. Its unique texture and flavors make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

9. Gorengan

Gorengan refers to a variety of Indonesian deep-fried snacks and fritters. It is one of the most famous street foods in Indonesia. Gorengan is crispy and has various flavorful fillings.

Source: Unsplash

Here are some common types of gorengan:

  1. Bakwan: It is a type of vegetable fritter made from a mixture of shredded vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts, mixed with flour batter.

  2. Tempe Mendoan: It is a popular Javanese dish made from thin slices of tempeh that are marinated in spices and then lightly battered.

  3. Tahu Goreng: It is deep-fried tofu. The tofu is usually cut into cubes or rectangles and then deep-fried until golden and crispy. You can choose to stuff it with vegetables or meat.

  4. Pisang Goreng: It is a deep-fried banana fritters. Basically, the ripe bananas are coated in a batter made from flour, sugar, and sometimes spices like cinnamon or vanilla. You can bask in the sweet flavor and enjoy it as a light snack.

  5. Cireng: It is a popular West Javanese snack made from tapioca flour.

These are just a few examples of the wide variety of gorengan available in Indonesia. The versatility of gorengan allows for endless combinations of fillings and flavors. It is truly a tasty snack option for many Indonesians.

10. Rujak

Rujak is a traditional Indonesian fruit salad that combines a mix of fresh fruits with a sweet, tangy, and spicy dressing. It is a popular snack and street food item known for its refreshing flavors. Rujak can vary in its ingredients and preparation style across different regions in Indonesia.

This food offers a delightful combination of sweet, sour, tangy, and spicy flavors that complement the freshness of the fruits. It is a versatile dish that can be customized to individual preferences and can be adjusted according to the availability of fruits. Rujak is a popular street food, particularly during hot weather, as it provides a refreshing and vibrant burst of flavors.

 

These are just a few examples of countless Indonesian street foods. Each region and city has its own specialties, making Indonesian street foods diverse and exciting to explore. Go grab your passport and explore the city’s flavor!

 

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