What to eat, do and buy now: Indonesia

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What to eat, do and buy now: Indonesia

Seems last year’s main squeeze, sriracha, has a bit of spicy competition in hip chef circles, in the form of sambal oelek. The Indonesian chilli paste can do anything its Thai counterpart can, and then some…

Made using ground fresh chillies, a dash of vinegar and salt (“sambal” is Indonesian for condiment, and “oelek” means mortar and pestle), it’s more spoonable than squeezeable in consistency, with a flavour profile that highlights the taste of the actual chilli itself. So it adds heat to a dish without changing its core flavour. But wait, there’s more. Find out which other Indonesian ingredients are trending right now.



Basically Indonesians’ answer to a fridge-forage salad – and a super popular street food. In broad strokes, it contains a combination of raw and cooked veggies (think shredded cabbage, potatoes, carrots, green beans, cucumbers, sprouts), hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu and prawn crackers. The thing that ties it all together? An addictive chilli-peanut butter sauce. Try the gado gado recipe here.

The fried-rice comfort of nasi goreng, the slightly sweet spiciness of a slow-simmered rendang, satay skewers dipped in creamy peanut sauce … Is it any wonder Indonesian food is slaying right now?

Your starter kit should include:


Named for their ability to ignite because of their high oil content, candle nuts, or kemiri, are crushed and used to avour and thicken traditional Indonesian curries and spice pastes. They’re not commonly available in South Africa, but can be substituted with macadamia nuts.


Prawn crackers*
Known as krupuk udang, these crispy, funky-flavoured snacks are made from a dough of puréed prawns, tapioca our, water and seasoning that’s steamed, air-dried and sliced before being deep-fried. Dip into some kecap manis or sambal oelek for optimal enjoyment.


Bawang goreng
These crispy fried shallots add crunch and an umami hit to noodles, rice, curries and salads. They’re easy enough to make (soak diced onion in water, drain and air dry, then wok-fry until crispy), but Woolies’ crispy onion sprinkle* will save you cutting time and tears.


Kripik pisang
Traditionally made by deep-frying sliced, lime-juice soaked bananas (that’s where the Afrikaans word “piesang” comes from) these are a popular snack in Indonesia. Locally, air-dried banana chips* are much easier to find.


Fresh coconut & fresh turmeric*
Coconut and turmeric are ubiquitous ingredients in Indonesian cooking. Perhaps the best marriage of the two in one dish is nasi kuning – rice cooked in coconut milk and turmeric, often served at special occasions.


Kecap manis*
Syrupy, savoury goodness in a squeezy bottle, this condiment is also known as Indonesian sweet soya sauce. No bowl of nasi goreng is the same without a squirt of this treacly stuff.

Lamb rendang

Voted the most delicious dish in the world in a poll conducted by CNN, there’s no faulting this comforting, complex curry. This lamb version by original spice girl Vanie Padayachee is one of our all-time faves.


Try the lamb rendang recipe here.

Discover more Asian-inspired recipes here.

* Available at selected Woolies stores.

TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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