best Indonesian dishes

The Best Indonesian Dishes: Food You HAVE to Try in Bali

Indonesian dishes you must try in Bali!

The food in Indonesia is to die for…but you’ll need this road map to navigate an Indonesian menu. While the staples are easy to pick out on a menu: Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Nasi Mie (fried noodles), the other Indonesian dishes on the menu will confuse the hell out of you because you’ve likely never heard of them in your life! So to make sure you’re not eating JUST Nasi Goreng for breakfast, lunch and dinner – let me help show you the way. But okay, we’re totally starting with Nasi Goreng…

Nasi Goreng: The closest Indonesia has to a national dish

Let’s get the classic dish out of the way first. Nasi Goreng is a staple of the Indonesian diet which you will find on just about every menu in every Indonesian restaurant, hostel, hotel, and road-side food stan. Easy to make and very cheap, Nasi Goreng is made up of fried rice with a combination of vegetables and spices seasoned with soy sauce and often served with a fried egg on top. If you’re hungry (and/or on a backpacker’s budget) – then this is the way to go!

nasi goreng

Babi Guling, or Suckling Pig: A juicy, delicious Balinese classic 

Slow roasted pork spun on a spit over open fire rendering the juiciest meat you’ve ever had! Babi Guling is first soaked in coconut water and then coated in a delicious mix of herbs and spices. A few hours turning on the spit, this is melt-in-your-mouth fantastic. Babi Guling is traditionally served on a banana leaf with some steamed rice and crackling (chicharon or crispy pork skin). Not to be missed while you’re in Bali.

Siomay: Dumplings with a difference

Dumplings don’t have to be heavy, and the Indonesian Siomay dumplings certainly aren’t. The base protein is fish which is mixed with finely chopped vegetables, then boiled or deep-fried. These are a popular choice with street vendors so you’re never too far from your next Siomay hit! Keep an eye out. 

Satay: An Indonesian twist on an Asian classic

satay skewers bbq 

If you’re a fan of of Asian food, then you might have already tried satay before. But hold on, the Indonesian version is a bit different. Local food stalls and street cards like to use cumin to marinate the skewers of meat before throwing them on the grill, charing their edges. Satay is then served with a spicy peanut sauce loaded with chili and a hit of lime. Satay is commonly a chicken dish, but you’ll find lemongrass pork, or fish, and sometimes even beef, too. 

Beef Rendang: The dish you might not try unless I told you to

This is my favorite Indonesian dish when I need a bit of comfort food. Beef Rendang is chunks of beef that are slow-cooked until they fall apart, stewing in an incredible mix of spicy chili, rich curry sauce and a coconut base that helps to counter the fiery chili heat. Heap it onto a big pile of steamed rice for Indonesian food heaven.

Martabak: One for the sweet tooth

Fluffy and delicious, Martabak is the local version of a pancake. Often cooked fresh in front of you on stalls at the night markets, Martabak pancakes are thick and light and are folded into half once cooked to incorporate your favorite filling. Go for classic chocolate or banana, or mix it up by throwing a bit of cheese in there for an unusual twist!

You’re more than just a Nasi Goreng traveler, now.

The variety and range of food across Indonesia is astonishing, and many islands have their own local specialties for you to discover. The only problem is fitting in enough meals in the day to try them all! 

But don’t stop at just Indonesian food… Plan your whole trip around eating delicious Asian food: from Thai dishes to street food in Vietnam!

And hey, before you come to Bali, get your guide book!

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