Like its culture, the diverse, vibrant, and colourful cuisine of Indonesia owes its characteristics to the ancient traders who frequented Indonesia’s ports. Much of the rich variety found in Indonesian cuisine was heavily influenced by the traders who brought spices and their own ingredients with them.
Indian merchants brought curries and dried spices. The Chinese traders and immigrants contributed soybean, noodles, and the technique of stir-frying, while the Arabs introduced kebabs and aromatic spices. With these influences, Indonesian cooking and culture are as colourful as it can get.
Indonesian local favourites are the well-known fried rice (Nasi Goreng), Satay (meat skewers), Beef Rendang, Sambal, and Tempeh (fermented soybean cakes). Rice, being the staple of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, is typically eaten plain, combined with a meat dish, a vegetable dish, sambal, and crunches like fried peanuts or fried anchovies. Sometimes, the rice is steamed in woven packets of coconut leaves to make what is called a ketupat. It is also steamed in banana leaves and served as lontong.
Indonesians like their food mildly spicy with a predominance of ginger, garlic, and fresh turmeric. Commonly, all the dishes are cooked in advance and later enjoyed at room temperature.
Local Indonesian dishes are named after their main ingredient and cooking method. For example, Ayam Goreng combines the words “ayam” (chicken) and “goreng” (frying), denoting fried chicken.
Traditional Indonesian kitchens have firewood-fuelled kitchen stove. Conventional cooking utensils include the Wajan (wok), Penggorengan (frying pan), Panci (cauldron), knives, types of spoon and fork, Parutan (shredder), and Ulekan and Lesung (stone mortar and pestle). The customary stone mortar and a pestle are used to grind the spices and ingredients into coarse or fine pastes.
With urbanisation, contemporary houses today use liquefied petroleum gas-fueled stoves or electric stoves. Their cookware, plates, and containers are made from metals such as iron, tin, stainless steel, aluminium, ceramics, plastics, and glass.
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