Indonesian Cuisine and Food experiences (Lombok and Yogyakarta)

This December, I had the opportunity to take a break and visit 2 beautiful cities – Yogyakarta and Lombok-  in Indonesia.  Each is so contrasting than the other yet each has something that the other is envious about. (Perhaps some of you are already aware since you may have been reading my twitter feeds @urbanfoodlover)that I had been sharing :) )

Call it Yogyakarta or Jogja or Jogjakarta or the student city in Indonesia, this hustling-bustling shoppers paradise full of energy and life,  has the breathtaking ancient ruins and temples that many of you may have heard of and even visited. The most famous,  that includes the Borobudur Temples dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries and the Prambanan Temple, have been marked on UNESCO’s world heritage cultural sites now.

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On the other hand Lombok, with its close proximity to the ever popular and commercial Bali, still retains its sanity with the crystal clear waters, corals and white sands. This along with the lush, tropical foliage and the peace and tranquility that our ever-growing fast paced lives are demanding these days.

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I could go on about these 2 cities and how they amaze me. Yet I choose to share with my lovely readers about the interesting dishes and foods that I had the opportunity to taste while in Indonesia. Yes I know Singapore has its fine share of Indonesian food options from fine dining Indonesian restaurants to the cheap, fuss free hawker food centers. However what amazed me here was:

  • The way the vegetables are grown locally in small farms and fields. Driving around you see them all around – the hotel, the beach, the temples everywhere with the tiny houses with little patches of land growing tropical fruits and veggies. They don’t fuss over organic since everything is done the old way here, the way all food was organic before we plunged into mindless factory farming of all kinds.
  • New and different flavors that my palette experienced that I have a list of kitchen experiments in mind (Hopefully I am able to churn out something worthwhile to post on this blog in 2014 from these :))
  • There were lots of super oily and starchy foods that I don’t like as well, but you need to figure out which one suits your palette the best and be able to pick the good ones for you.

Hence I know that some of the Indonesian foods may be crossed out of your “list of foods to try” owing to the deep-frying nature of cooking them or unheard spices,  roots and tubers they may use. I was under this same impression for a very long time. However this visit prompted me to try a few foods prepared with fresh ingredients and cooked in good fats, spices and seasonings. I must also add that my husband and I stuck to mostly veggie options with a few dishes of good chicken and eggs.  I know you are wondering why aren’t we pescatarians especially when visiting an island country ? Let’s just say that we are yet evolving our taste buds and do not have a fondness for these yet.

I am hoping that as I enter into a new year, into 2014 I am able to explore and experience many such wonderful places and culinary expeditions out there, savour all kinds of new foods, share this with all the lovely readers reading this, re-invent this blog and enrich my overall life experiences. I am so grateful to this blog for pushing me everyday to reason, to help grow my passion towards food and help share my experiences with everyone. Also I thank each one of you for reading my rambles.  Wishing everyone a splendid 2014 that will bring in joy, happiness, prosperity, health and wellness for me, for you and for all of us.

Here are some of the foods that I tried and I am tempted to share these with you for sure. Perhaps some of you may have already seen some of these pics if you are following @urbanfoodlover on Twitter :)

Ofcourse this is no way close to the exhaustive list of Indonesian dishes out there. Just a few as seen from my eye :)

Je Jamuran in Yogyakarta serving every single dish with mushrooms of all kinds. (Jamur means mushroom in Bahasa language in Indonesia)

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Like literally I have never seen so many varieties of mushrooms in one single place:

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Washing down the spices with a lovely cooling drink of crushed lychee, fresh strawberries, basil seeds, slices of mango and garnished with mint:

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Fell in love with this rustic box in which the Phoenix Hotel , Yogyakarta served us flavored sugars – cinnamon, white, brown, raw:

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Soto Ayam - A warm soup made with shredded chicken, herbs, glass noodles, turmeric and tons of garlic. Yes TONS of garlic and it is indeed my favorite amongst everything I relished while in Indonesia. I have high hopes of being able to replicate it at  home:

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And some Mei Goreng (Egg fried noodles with veggies)

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Along with the varied  sambals (Beware these will make your palettes scream since some of the chillies used in them were way too spicy)

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Gazing all day at the never-ending waters of the Indian Ocean in Lombok with a chilled tamarind mojito

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With finger-licking Ayam Taliwang , the speciality chicken dish in Lombok, cooked with the perfect blend of spices and herbs and  served with steamed white rice, saute spinach and roasted garlic. This one is the grilled chicken version covered in spices:

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And I cannot stop eating these roast potatoes and eggplant cooked in coconut milk, spices and basil:

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Cooling down the scorching heat with refreshing coconut water

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Also here is a list I compiled of the most common names you come across on the menus that could help you understand better if you are ever trying to decode Indonesian cuisine.

nasi = rice

ayam = chicken

bakso = meat (mostly beef) or fish balls

jamur = mushrooms

goreng = fried

mie = noodles

So mie goreng = fried noodles, nasi goreng = fried rice

Some very interesting links on Indonesian Cuisine that I have been reading are below :

Be careful about the places you choose to eat at. A not so good experience for this couple on their trip

40 foods Indonesians can’t live without on Travel CNN

Indonesian foods and recipes on Indochef.com

Recipe Source has a wonderful list of 112 Indonesian Recipes

Indonesian Cuisine recipes 

Indonesian Cuisine by the Embassy of Indonesia

Recipes to help get started on Indonesian cooking

 An entire site dedicated to Tempeh here

Some interesting take on Asian recipes and this one focusses on Indonesian cuisine

Mee goreng, nasi goreng , soto ayam and more