Boiled or steamed rice is the centrepiece of every Indonesian meal. An enormous variety of side dishes accompany the rice. They include preparations of beef, chicken, duck, goat, pork, seafood of every kind, and vegetables. The ingredients are boiled, braised, deep or stir-fried, grilled or roasted over coconut husks, or steamed. The unique flavours of Indonesian food are rendered by the judicious use of ingredients such as basil, cardamom, chillies, coconut, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, lime, nutmeg, peanuts, pepper, saffron, shallots, soy sauce, a variety of shrimp pastes, tamarind and turmeric.
If "hot and spicy" is not quite what you like, it is best to stay away from the small green chillies and the very hot and spicy sambal that is often served with each meal.
A delicious local meal at a Komodo & Lesser Sunda Islands restaurant is the ideal way to end a busy day touring or shopping in Komodo & Lesser Sunda Islands. Take a look at our Komodo & Lesser Sunda Islands Restaurant Guide below to find the best places to eat at, as well as some local specialities. Our Indonesia Restaurant Guide tells you more about the food and cuisine found throughout the country.
A few popular Indonesian delicacies served in most restaurants are Gado-Gado, which is a combination of many half-boiled vegetables mixed with peanut sauce, Nasi Goreng, which is a delicious meat or shrimp fried rice, and Sate, which includes small pieces of skewered beef, chicken, minced seafood, pork or prawns, all of which are charcoal-grilled.
Balinese meals are traditionally served on banana leaves, rather than on conventional plates.
Balinese men traditionally cook this dish. Coconut, mango or turtle meat is cut into strips and cooked with a variety of spices. Raw blood is then mixed with the ingredients to give it its characteristic red colour.
Roast suckling pig is very popular among the Balinese. The pigs are stuffed with spices, pierced with a wooden pole and slowly roasted for an hour or two over a fire fed by wood and coconut husk.
The principal home brewed beverages of Bali are arak, brem and tuak.
A popular sweet dish is a black rice pudding made with special black coloured rice.
Tofu or soy bean curd is the main ingredient of several well-liked dishes.
Jaja is a small nutty flat cake made with crunchy soybeans that have been shelled, mixed with a special type of yeast and fried.
The night markets and the food halls located in or next to certain shopping centres in Denpasar are the best places to taste a traditional no-frills Indonesian meal. For just a dollar, you can taste Bakso, different kinds of Sate such as Sate Lilit, which is made with minced seafood, and many other local specialties.
Finding a restaurant that has a pleasant ambience and serves authentic Indonesian food is a difficult task. Warungs and some tiny food stalls do serve the real thing but the ambience leaves much to be desired. First timers can be put off completely. Indonesian dishes, when served in the western-style well-decorated urban restaurants, lose their traditional flavours and taste bland.
Sumbawa is the best place for seafood. Lobster, prawns and squid are available in plenty and at prices much lower than in Bali. The undeveloped tourism industry could be a contributing factor. The seafood is bought by the locals rather than by restaurants and that keeps the prices low.
Venison is another local speciality available in plenty. The hills around Maluk and Sekongkang are full of deer and the locals use dogs to hunt them.
In Sumbawa, water buffaloes are more commonly seen than sapi or cows. The taste of water buffalo is not very popular among the unaccustomed.
A great variety of fruits and vegetable are available in the markets at Sumbawa. However, vegetables such as lettuce and green peppers are not as easily available here as they are in Bali. Rambutan, which is a fleshy fruit covered with soft spines, is available but rather expensive as it is not grown locally. Products such as cheese, crackers, olives and peanut butter, which are not part of the traditional Indonesian cuisine, are not sold in Sumbawa, probably because of the still small tourist industry.