Indonesia is an island country in Asia, close to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. As it is a large country, Indonesian cuisine can be different from one reagion to another. However, it is usually quite heavy in animal products, and due to predominanly muslim religion, there are almost no vegetarian or vegan traditions.
Rice is at the center of each meal and is accompanied by various side dishes. Animal products are also used as spices or condiments, such as fish sauce, shrimp paste, dried fish flakes, meat stock or condensed milk. Because of that, even vegetable soups, stews or curries can be non vegan. One the other hand, Indonesia is the home country of tempeh, and tofu is also can be easily found.
Big cities or towns popular among tourists usually have at least one vegan or vegan-friendly restaurant. Loving Hut is the most established network of 100% vegan restaurants in Indonesia and some cities have several of them. However, don't take for granted that people in non-veg places will understand what "vegetarian" or "vegan" means. It is better to tell what you can and can't eat in detail, listing all kinds of ingredients and especially the "secret" ones like fish sauce, meat stock, etc.
Dishes to try
- Tofu is caled tahu and is a common source of protein. It can be fried whole or mashed with spices, cut into cubes and added to other dishes, stuffed with vegetables, etc.
- Tempeh mostly comes fried but is also prepared in many other ways.
- Gado-gado is a dish of tofu and vegetables in a peanut sauce. There are many kinds of it and some are vegan. However, beware of shrimp paste or other "secret" ingredients.
- Nasi goreng or "fried rice" is one of those add-what-you-have dishes where all kinds of ingredients are fried with rice. Usually it is made with meat, eggs or other animal products but some places can make it vegan.
Many people in big cities or touristic places speak English. At the same time, many don't, so it's a good idea to know at least some food-related words. They also help if you want to decipher list of ingredients on products. These days there are also many free or inexpensive apps (Indonesian-English dictionaries, etc.) that are also very helpful.
- Tanpa... - without...
- Saya tidak makan... - I don't eat...
- Air dadih - whey
- Daging – meat (comes with other words to describe pig's meat, cow's meat, etc.)
- Ikan – fish (comes with other words to describe types of fish)
- Krim – cream
- Madu – honey
- Mentega – butter
- Peti – fermented shrimp paste
- Susu - milk
- Telur – egg
- Terasi – shrimp paste
- Udang – shrimp