What is Fascinating about Food in Indonesia? How People Eat Food There

I have lived in Indonesia for over 10 years.What kind of image do you have when you hear about Indonesian food culture? Certainly there is a food culture that is also known in Japan, but Indonesian food is not yet major in Japan.Here, we will talk about popular meals in Indonesia.

Indonesian staple food


The staple food in Indonesia is rice like Japan. Speaking of Indonesian cuisine, Nasi Goreng (baked rice) is famous, but in fact it is not a food that is eaten daily in ordinary households.
When a large amount of rice remains, it often appears on the table as a remake dish, or is often eaten by eating out or taking out food stalls or canteens.

 Basic style

I told you that you can’t eat nasi goreng on a daily basis, but Indonesia still prefers white rice. Therefore, the basic style of Indonesian cuisine is white rice and side dishes like Japan.
Each person puts the rice in a large container called Ohitsu on his plate, puts various side dishes and soup on it, and has them in one plate. It’s an easy culture for housewives because less washing is required! In fact, I don’t see many other countries like Japan that divide almost all side dishes into their own dishes.
Recently, I often eat with a spoon or fork, but some people say that eating with my hand is better and using my right hand to eat dexterously.

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Characteristics of Indonesian food

 Garlic, shallot and chili are essential items

These three ingredients are mostly used in every dish. For stir-fry and boiled foods, it is used for slicing and scenting with hot oil. For fried foods, it is used for grinding and seasoning.
Although it is used only as a condiment in Japan, it will be a big news if the price of garlic and chili peppers soars in Indonesia, which is not good.

 Use a lot of spices

Indonesian cuisine uses a lot of spices. The appeal of Indonesian cuisine is not only the pungent taste of chili but also the complex and deep taste of spices.
Japanese cuisine focuses on making good use of the ingredients, but in the case of Indonesian cuisine, the odors and peculiarities of the ingredients are covered with a variety of spices, and elaborate cooking is sought. Therefore, it can be said that there is no commitment to good materials.
This spice is generally crushed with a stone mill. However, this method is time consuming, and recently many spices and instant products that have already been made are sold.

 Sambal is popular

In Indonesia, chili sauce based on ground pepper is popular. This is called Sambal. The method, taste, and ingredients of sambal vary depending on the region and home, but it is all-round, whether it is eaten with fried chicken, fish, tofu or boiled vegetables, or put in a stir-fry. Some people eat white rice only with sambal.
By the way, there is almost no custom of eating vegetables raw in Indonesia. Only West Java Sunda dishes are eaten with 23 fresh vegetables, but generally vegetables must be boiled or fried before being added. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce are often served as a garnish, but there are no dishes such as salads that use raw vegetables themselves.

 Use a lot of oil

Indonesian food uses oil anyway. If you leave the rest of the soup or stir-fry in the refrigerator, the fat will harden white. Japan is health-conscious, and the focus is on non-oil and oil-reserved dishes, but in Indonesia, oil is emphasized in order to make a good meal.
Many cooking methods such as meat, seafood, and tofu are often fried, and the ingredients such as soup are often fried in meat and vegetables before being put into the soup. Fried bananas, donuts and fried dumplings are also popular as casual snacks.

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How they eat in Indonesia


Unlike Japan, where eating is recommended, many people in Indonesia don’t have breakfast at home because of the early start time of companies and schools. The elementary school attendance time is generally around 7:15.
For this reason, there are many companies and schools that have a short break around 10 o’clock, and you can eat lunch boxes that you bring at this time, or buy noodles, rice cakes, and bread at nearby stalls.

 Lunch and dinner

In ordinary households in Indonesia, it is often the case that a day’s worth of food is prepared together before noon, and it is rare to make every meal as in Japan. A day’s worth of food is on the table, and it is common for each person to eat at their favorite time.
Students attending public schools will finish their classes before noon, so they will have lunch after returning home. Private schools often provide school lunches.
Dinner is considered a family gathering time in Japan, but in Indonesia there is no custom of waiting for a family to get together. The food is always on the table, so you can do it yourself when you have time. For this reason, Indonesia is famous for having a very short meal time.
In addition, hot dishes will be chilled as they are always on the table. In other words, there is an impression that there are many people with a cat tongue because there is no custom of eating hot dishes.

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How to live in different food culture

Do you think Indonesian food seems interesting when you look at it like this? Living in a country with a different food culture is an amazing discovery every day. Of course, I rarely see ingredients like Japan, so I sometimes miss Japanese food. But I love Indonesian food.
I am sorry that Indonesian food is still not common in Japan. If you are traveling abroad, please come to Indonesia. If you touch the culture and the wonderful food here, you will be fascinated.

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