Some foods, such as rice, sate and gado-gado are enjoyed throughout Indonesia. But most areas have their own special ways of preparing these easy indonesian recipes. Sate, for example, is made with different meats in different places.
Indonesian cooking includes a number of nutritious and satisfying soups that feature a delicious blend of chopped vegetables, tender bits of chicken, lamb, or beef, and sometimes coconut milk. Soups may be served in a variety of ways in Indonesia. Although soups are typically thought of as a first course, a steaming bowl can make a complete lunch or dinner on the go. Indonesians might stop for their midday meal at a warung to enjoy the soup of the day.
Appetizers such as corn fritters and beef sate tempt the taste buds, making diners hungry for the food that's yet to come. And, because of their smaller serving sizes, appetizers offer a great way to sample a variety of foods without filling up. Consider serving several appetizers to create a fun and varied meal.
The abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in Indonesia makes for especially delicious salads and side dishes. Indonesians who live in the city can shop every day at indoor farmers' markets for a variety of just-picked bananas, mangoes, jackfruit, coconuts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers. In rural areas and small villages, fresh produce is available at outdoor markets once a week, but most people grow their own fruits and vegetables.
Gado-gado, a salad made from potatoes, green beans, bean sprouts, broccoli, celery, and carrots and topped with a peanut dressing, is a favorite dish throughout the islands. Gado-gado can be a meal in itself. Lighter salads, such as carrot and apple salad or tomato, cucumber, and onion salad, provide a sweet, cool accompaniment to spicy main entrees. Serving three or four salads together makes a great meal on a hot summer day.
Although many indonesian recipes call for lamb or beef, most indonesians cannot afford these meats on a day-to-day basis. Instead, main dishes tend to center on fish or chicken, which are readily available and much less expensive there. To make the most of a small amount of meat, cooks often cut it into bite-sized pieces, mix it with vegetables, and serve it with rice. Duck and pork dishes are favored in parts of the islands with large chinese-indonesian populations, but pork is not eaten in areas where most people are muslim.
Delicious vegetarian dishes abound in Indonesia. Tofu and vegetables are used instead of meat in many dishes to cut costs. And if an entree does contain meat, there are always plenty of other vegetable and rice dishes from which to build a nutritious meal. The following section includes one vegetarian main dish. If you choose, you can easily make the other main dishes vegetarian by substituting a variety of vegetables or tofu for the meat.
Indonesia's steamy climate makes light, fruity desserts more appealing than rich, decadent treats such as cake or pie. After a large meal, indonesians typically reach for fresh fruit such as mangoes, jackfruit, or bananas. But some favorite desserts are served on special occasions or when guests come to dinner. Black rice pudding, sweet coconut-rice balls, and steamed coconut custard are likely to appear on holiday tables.These sweets feature foods that grow in abundance on the islands, including bananas, coconuts, and rice. Some desserts, such as deep-fried bananas, can be purchased from street vendors to eat as a sweet snack in the sweltering heat of the afternoon.
Rice, a mainstay of everyday cuisine in Indonesia, is the center of holiday and festival meals as well. On Lebaran, the celebration that brings an end to the fasting of Ramadan, festive rice molded into a cone is the centerpiece of the holiday table. Street vendors sell ketupat, rice cakes wrapped in palm leaves. On other holidays, such as Galungan, rice is placed in front of altars as an offering to the gods. On Maulud Nabi, a holiday honoring the birth of Muhammad, the prophet and founder of Islam, worshippers carry mounds of rice and fresh fruit in a parade. The rice is blessed and divided among festivalgoers. The rice harvest itself is also a cause for celebration. The very first bull race of Madura took place in a rice field after the crop had been harvested.
The recipes that follow are dishes that are enjoyed during indonesian holidays, festivals, or special occasions. In the spirit of an indonesian celebration, invite a group of friends over to sample these delights.