If you like Indonesian food, you will definitely enjoy Indonesia’s snacks as well. All these food are prepared with fresh spices that are originally cultivated from around the world. Read on to find out what are the must-try street foods in Indonesia.
A Menu of Cheap, Delicious Eats to Try on Indonesia’s City Streets
With Indonesia’s long history as a land of spices, it seems only natural that the local food – even the cheap but filling stuff sold on the streets – fuses local ingredients and traditional cooking styles into a tasty, thrilling whole. Indonesia’s history as a battleground and colony for Portugal and Indonesia actually revolves around the spices originally cultivated around the nation’s many islands.
“A bloody war was fought on spices in the archipelago almost half a millennium ago,” explains K.F. Seetoh, TV host, founder of Asian food company Makansutra, and chief exponent of the upcoming World Street Food Congress to be held in Singapore. “Can you imagine what they were doing with these spices, with food, that makes people want to kill for it?”
No worries, the situation has calmed down somewhat: today, visitors to Indonesia can now eat their favorite street foods in peace. If you’re in a city like Jakarta or Yogyakarta, chances are you don’t need to walk very far to find any of the street foods we’ve listed in the next few pages. Many of these foods are popular throughout Indonesia, but we’ve thrown in a few local favorites for good measure.
Kerak Telor – Jakarta’s “Official” Street Snack
Indonesia’s 230 million people are divided between 300-plus ethnic groups; the Betawi ethnic group claim Jakarta as their own. The Betawi culture is responsible for a large part of Jakarta’s street food scene, including nasi uduk and Betawi variants on soto and gado-gado.
Kerak telor (Bahasa for “egg crust”) is the signature Betawi street food: a glutinous rice frittata cooked over charcoal by itinerant vendors. The vendor places a small portion of sticky rice in a pan, then adds fried shallots, shrimp, grated coconut, pepper and salt. The whole ensemble is then mixed with either duck or chicken egg, then served hot on top of paper. The exterior is cooked to crispness, which explains the name.
Chicken or duck egg? It depends on your taste; the duck egg contributes a richer, fattier taste and mouth-feel, although kerak telor made with duck egg costs a little bit more. The dish bears a passing resemblance to an omelette, but the addition of the sticky rice, shallots, shrimp, and coconut (not to mention the Indonesian spices) sets it apart completely from its bland, un-crispy Western cousin.
Kerak telor is not as ubiquitous as its fellow street foods: “We prefer to sell it only in certain spots that are iconic to Jakarta, like Monas, Old Town and Setu Babakan,” explains Bang Toing, a Betawi kerak telor seller based in Jakarta. “I’m not really sure why, but that’s just how we do it.”
Read the full version of the article here.
Mike files stories for About.com and other online publications like Yahoo.com, and TravelWireAsia. You can find Mike’s offline work in lifestyle magazines like Men’s Health, FHM, Good Housekeeping, Smart Parenting, and inflight magazines for Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airways. Visit his Content.ly portfolio for samples of his work.