Indonesia is known for much more than just the famed island of Bali, the bustling Jakarta, and its rich culture. Some of the best foods in the world originated from here, like sate (or satay to us). In fact, so delicious are these skewered and marinated meats on sticks that they became staple dishes in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries like our very own Malaysia, Singapore, and so on.
Other famous Indonesian dishes include soto, bakso, ayam penyet, and nasi padang, to name a few. But did you know, much like Malaysia, Indonesians also enjoy nobbling on their version of kueh-kueh or also known as gorengan? Commonly had at breakfast or during teatime, these sumptuous snacks are some you should sample the next time you’re in the country.
Bakwan, also known as bala bala, are basically vegetable fritters. They are often prepared using rice or wheat flour, or a mixture of the two. The flour is then combined with water, eggs, baking powder, and seasonings to create a uniform foundation, which is then mashed with a range of freshly-chopped and diced vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts, and cabbage. In Malaysia, bakwan is known as cucur sayur.
Nagasari, which originates from Indramayu, remains a common traditional Indonesian snack to this day. After being wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to perfection, this rice flour, sago flour, coconut milk, and sugar treat is then loaded with a banana in the centre. The perfect combo of salty and sweet makes this cake much sought after by many travellers.
3. Pisang molen
Tropical countries love themselves a good banana snack, and Indonesia is no different. The pisang molen is a delicious snack of fried bananas wrapped in puff pastry. However, it’s not to be confused with pisang goreng (banana fritters), as this snack incorporates a few drops of vanilla into the mixture. It is dubbed pisang molen due to its design, like a molen truck, which is used to mix enormous amounts of cement.
This classic Indonesian pancake is traditionally made with rice flour, coconut milk, or sometimes shredded coconut. The pancakes are versatile as they come in sweet and savoury varieties, and are often served with delicious toppings. Modern-day toppings include bacon, various types of cheese, and ice cream. Serabi pancakes can be found all across Java, although they are most commonly associated with the towns in Bandung.
Rissoles have been a famous Indonesian snack since the 13th century. The delightful snacks have a light, savoury flavour, making them great for breakfast or an afternoon nibble. Little croquettes, often wrapped in pastry, covered in crumbs, and then deep-fried until golden brown, are as delicious as they are addictive. Typically, it contains fillings such as prawns, minced beef, or veggies.
6. Kue Lumpur
Kue lumpur (or its original name, pasteis de nata) is thought to have originated from the Portuguese settlers, who introduced it to Indonesia during colonial rule. The snack is filled with custard, milk, and cheese. It is unknown where the original kue lumpur in Indonesia was created, but this snack is a well-known favourite, and a must-try if you haven’t already.
The Indonesian version of onde-onde is made with sticky rice flour, packed with crushed mung beans, and covered with sesame seeds. What Malaysian’s have come to know and love as onde-onde is called klepon in Indonesia. But anyway, the Indonesian onde-onde snack is also similar to the Chinese jian dui pastry. The tasty flavour of the outer shell and the rich filling of crushed mung beans will have you coming back for seconds and thirds!
8. Kue Cubit
Kue cubit, which translates as ‘pinch cake’, resembles a pancake but is smaller (about 4cm in diameter) and features a lighter texture. It was aptly named kue cubit since you must pinch it to consume it. Kue cubit also has an upgraded version known as laba-laba or spider cake. The spider-web-like shape is created by putting the wet dough onto a steel plate. Kue cubit‘s sweet and salty flavour mix will make it one of your favourite snacks.