The staple food of most of Indonesia is rice. On some of
the islands in eastern Indonesia, staple food traditionally ranged
from corn, sago, cassava to sweet potatoes, though this is changing
as rice becomes more popular. From the surrounding seas as well
as from fresh water fisheries fish is abundant and of great variety,
such as lobsters, oysters, prawns and shrimps, squid, crab, etc.
Fish features prominently in the diet as fresh, salted, dried, smoked
or a paste. Coconut is found everywhere and besides being produced
for cooking oil, its milk the juice from the white meat is an ingredient
for many dishes.
Spices and hot chili peppers are the essence of most cooking, and
in some areas they are used generously such as in West Sumatra and
North Sulawesi. Each province or area has its own cuisine, which
vary in the method of cooking and ingredients.
The Javanese cuisine is probably more palatable to the general taste
and consists of vegetables, soybeans, beef, chicken and other varieties.
The Sumatrans generally eat more beef compared to the other regions.
West Sumatra particularly is known for its Padang (capital of the
province) specialty restaurants found nationwide. Besides the hot
and spicy food, these restaurants are known for their unique style
Further to the east, seafood features on the daily diet, either
grilled or made into curries.
In Bali, Irian Jaya and the highlands of North Sumatra and North
Sulawesi pork dishes are specialities. As the population of Indonesia
is predominantly Moslem, pork is usually not served except in Chinese
restaurants, non moslem regions and in places serving international
There is a wide variety of tropical and sub-tropical vegetables
all year round. Fruit is available throuhgout the year. Some fruits
such as mangoes and water melons are seasonal, but most of the other
fruits can be bought throughout the whole year, such as bananas,
apples, papayas, pineapples, oranges, etc.
Coffee and tea plantations are plentiful, growing on several islands,
and served everywhere from fine restaurant to small village stalls.
There are several breweries which produce local beer. Bali produces
"brem" which is a rice wine, whereas Toraja has its "tuak"
which is also known in North Sumatra and other areas. For most people,
a meal consists of steamed white rice with side dishes of meat,
chicken, fish and vegetables along with a glass of tea.
There is such a rich variety in the Indonesian cuisine that one
should sample specialities in each area. However, most common nationwide
are "sate" (skewered grilled meat), "gado-gado"
(vegetables salad with a peanut sauce), "nasi goreng"
(fried rice served at anytime) and "bakmi goreng" (fried
Chinese restaurants are found all over the country. There are fine
restaurants specializing in Continental and Japanese and Korean