Rice is a staple in the Indonesian diet and is part of every meal. Nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables) is one of the most popular rice dishes. A special dish is lontong (compressed rice cooked in banana leaves for six hours). Sometimes people eat noodles instead of rice. Other common foods are tahu (soybean cake) and tempe (fermented soybeans wrapped in a banana leaf). Most Indonesians prefer fish, poultry and eggs to red meat. Indonesian Muslims do not eat pork.

Indonesian food is usually hot and spicy. Some dishes are accompanied by a red chili paste called sambal. A spicy peanut sauce is used as a dressing for salads, satay (skewered strips of grilled meat) or gado gado (cold vegetable salad).

Indonesians enjoy creamy avocado juice and clear, sweet, perfumed Java tea. Cendol is a drink made with brown sugar, jackfruit, gelatin, coconut milk and the juice of a pandana leaf. Kopi tubruk (literally, "collision coffee") is prepared by pouring boiling water onto ground coffee.

A wide range of fruit is found in Indonesia, including durian, star fruit, salak, rambutan, mango, mangosteen and papaya. In some areas people eat dog meat, mice, eels, roasted lizards or tretis (partially digested grass from a cow's stomach).

When Indonesian families invite guests to a meal, they prepare more food than can possibly be eaten. Guests wait to be invited to eat by the host. They do not eat everything offered by their host, because if they finish all the food offered, it means that they are not satisfied and want more.

   Did you know?
Although the region is a major producer of spices such as nutmeg and cloves, these spices are rarely used in Indonesian cooking. Herbs such as lemongrass or basil are more typical. Indonesians also use pandana, bamboo, citrus and even hibiscus leaves in their cooking.
All the dishes are brought to the table at once. Everyone has rice and then takes a portion from each of the other dishes. In rural areas, everyone sits in a circle on the floor and food is placed on a mat in the centre. Some Indonesians use their fingers to eat.

In cities and towns, Indonesians sometimes get a quick meal from a kaki lima vendor or at a warung. The kaki lima is a pedestrian walkway where vendors sell food from carts to passersby. They often cook meals for customers upon request. A warung is an open-air eatery with a bench for seating. Many are found in the night markets of Indonesia's cities. Padang restaurants serve very large meals, consisting of 10 to 25 highly spiced dishes.

   Banana Fritters

4 medium-sized bananas, ripe but firm
125 ml white flour
250 ml water
1 egg
Vegetable oil
Icing sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste


Peel the bananas and slice into halves. Beat the flour, salt, water, and egg together to form a smooth batter. Dip the bananas into the batter and then deep-fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Dust with the icing sugar, ground cinnamon and grated nutmeg, and serve with honey, golden syrup or cream.