Spices and condiments are at the heart of Indonesian food culture.user rating
With more than 17,000 islands (6,000 inhabited), Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, stretching from Australia to Southeast Asia. Indonesian cuisine traditionally blends spicy, sweet, sour and hot flavors. Staple ingredients include nasi, or rice, which is steamed or cooked with spices and coconut milk; spices and herbs such as coriander, ginger, tamarind, lemongrass and galangal, a root with earthy and citrus flavors; and condiments such as sambal, a spicy mix made from chile peppers, and trassi, a pungent shrimp paste.
Although goat, pork, chicken and beef are used in Indonesian cookery, fresh tuna, lobster, crab, squid, mussels and oysters are more prevalent. With the tropical climate and volcanic soil, vegetables and fruit grow readily, producing tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, mangoes, papayas and the exotic fruits lychees and durians. Traditional dishes include chili prawn sate; nasi goring, a fried rice with cooked eggs, chicken, mixed vegetables and sweetened with a thick soy sauce; and beef rendang, beef long-simmered with coconut milk and chile. Indonesian curries are popular and include squid curry flavored richly with cumin, black mustard and fennel.
Desserts and drinks can be for the adventurous such as the beverage es tele, made from avocado, red beans and jackfruit, or cendol, a dessert of shaved ice, coconut milk, starchy noodles and grass jelly.—Leska Tomash