25 Best Indonesian Snacks
With its diversity on tribes, culture and the geography that spread among five big islands, Indonesia has so many different traditional food as well. While there are so many articles that highlighting Indonesian food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the traditional snacks that have a special place in our tongue are sometime forgotten. Yes, we do like to snack in between meal time. These snacks are served in daily family occasion, party, celebration, and even in formal meeting. So, without further ado, let’s begin the feast!
1. Perkedel Jagung
This snack is made by mixing kernel corn with wheat flour and other ingredient such as egg, onion, garlic, turmeric, chives, chili (if you like it spicy), and salt. The dough is then fried and dried.
You will expect the sweet taste from the corn and spicy if you use chili. This is an easy fried snack and often become everyday meal in family. This meal often served in informal occasion. The best way to enjoy this is to eat it with green chili and a hot sweet tea.
There are two types of martabak. The sweet one, and the salty one which also known as martabak telur (egg martabak). The one displayed in the right is the salty one. It is basically a mixed of scramble egg with meat and vegetable, and then it is wrap on a special layer that is readily available in local market. This wrap is then fried, drained, and served with special sauce. What makes this dish delicious is actually the sauce. The sauce is made by mixing and cooking the water, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, green chili, and salt.
3. Pisang Goreng (fried banana)
This is the most common and easy snack that every Indonesian like. We need only to put bananas into a mix of water, rice flour, starch, salt, and sugar and fry them.
The simple fried banana alone is delicious. But another way to enjoy it is by spreading grated cheese or chocolate on top of the fried banana. Yumm….
4. Grilled Corn
Many street food in Indonesia especially in Java specialized in selling grilled bread and grilled corn. What makes this snack special is the sauce used to smear the corn when it is grilled. The basic ingredient used is margarine. The additional sauce that differentiate between one kiosk to another is the chili sauce, honey sauce, and many other. Once it is cooked, one can serve by adding shredded cheddar cheese, more chili and other sauce before devour it.
In many kiosks, they also offer to shredded the corn as well, so you can choose to eat the corn from the stalk, or you can eat the shredded corn in a plate, with cheese or sauce on top of it. The later is preferred if you don’t want to get nasty with your hands. These snack is popular especially during rain season. Eat it hot while it’s cold outside with family and friends are popular way to have this snack.
If the previous snacks are made by frying, this one is made by steaming. There’s two part of this snack, the filling, and the rice wrapper. The filling is made from sliced and diced potato, carrot, bean curd, red chili, meat, onion and garlic sauteed together until a bit tender. Meanwhile, the wrap is rice that is cooked with bay leaves, coconut, lemongrass, and pandan fragrant. The final touch is putting the filling into the flattened cooked rice, roll it and wrap them in the banana leaves. This snack is often served in formal occasions.
6. Tahu Petis
This snack is also better be enjoyed with green chili. Tahu is bean custard, and Petis is fermented ground shrimp mixed with salt. It is made by simply fry the bean custard and fill it with Petis. It is originally from Semarang, Central Java.
This is another traditional snack from Java and made from cassava. The cassava is boiled and mashed, and then mixed with coconut and palm sugar. It is not an everyday snack, and usually sold in packages and brought as a gift when someone visited Java. There’s also famous song about this food called “Gethuk asale soko telo” in which the sentences use as part of hooked rhyme.
At a glance, Lemper is almost the same with arem-arem. The difference is that arem-arem use regular rice, while lemper use glutinous rice. The filling of lemper is usually chicken that is cooked with coriander, pecan, salt, onion, and coconut milk. Arem-arem is more tender and fragile, while Lemper is more solid and sweet from the outside. But both using banana leaves as a wrapper. It is also a favorite snack for formal occasion such as snack for a meeting.
This food that is roughly translated as dragon essence is made from banana as filling, wrapped by the sago flour and rice flour before it is wrapped by banana leave. You will find it very sweet, soft, and of course taste of the banana. Most of the snacks that is wrapped by banana leaves usually are cooked by steaming.
Klepon is one of my favorite traditional snack. It has a surprised filling made from brown sugar. The outside layer is made from glutinous flour, rice flour and pandan fragrant. The perfectly round dough with filling is then boiled, drained, and rolled onto a shredded coconut. It is very soft in the mouth, and tasted really delicious when the filling is melting. Even as i’m writing this, i can remember how it melts on my mouth.
This perfectly round snack has a filling of green peas paste and a bit hollow inside. Once the outer wrapper’s dough (made from rice flour and glutinous flour, vanilla powder, water, sugar, and salt) is ready, it is filled with green peas paste, rolled onto a sesame seed before it is fried. On the first bite, you can feel the hollow inside of the roll, until you find the green peas. It is very sweet and delicious.
12. Bika Ambon
This snack originally comes from Medan city in North Sumatera Province. It is made from yeast, tapioca flour, egg, coconut milk, and sugar. It comes with many varieties of flavor such as banana, durian, cheese, chocolate, or the original taste which is pandan flavor. You will find it very sweet and chewy. It is often bought as a gift when someone come back from North Sumatera.
13. Kue Lapis (layered cake)
This snack is made from tapioca flour, rice flour, coconut milk, and food coloring. Depends on how many colors and layers you want to have in this cake, the dough is poured to the baking pan and then steamed until solid so the next dough with different color can be poured on top of it and steamed again. This process is repeated until the desired level and layered is obtained.
14. Cantik Manis
Cantik means beautiful, and Manis means sweet or pretty. So the name very much represents this food. Its appearance is very colorful, and the taste is soft and sweet. It is made from colorful sago/tapioca flour, mung bean flour (tepung hunkwe in Indonesia), coconut milk, pandan, and sugar.
Wingko or Wingko Babat (since it originally comes from Babat City in East Java) is made mainly from coconut. You will find it very solid and sweet. This snack is not an everyday snack and mostly brought by those who visit Babat or Semarang.
Talam is made from cassava, rice flour, coconut milk, and sago flour. To get the yellow color, the cassava dough is mixed with yellow food coloring in a special mold for Talam. The taste is very sweet and soft.
This snack originally comes from West Java, and basically a mixed of water, sago flour, wheat flour, garlic, pepper, and salt fried and dried. The taste is very chewy and the best way to enjoy it is to eat it with chili paste or sauce. Other may add mushroom or even cheese in the dough. Cireng dough is often sold in a frozen package and one can easily fry it for a quick serving.
18. Kue Lumpur (mud cake)
Contrary with the name, mud cake is actually very sweet and soft. The round and flat cake is made from baking a dough, mixed from sugar powder, egg, salt, vanilli, coconut milk, margarine, and steamed and beaten potato. You will find the muddy texture from the potato.
19. Kue Wajik.
This is another food made from glutinous white flour, pandan, brown sugar, and coconut milk boiled in a pan and then it is cooled until it’s settled and ready to be served. It’s very solid and sticky at the same time. This snack is usually sold in a traditional market and often used by Chinese in Java as part of food giving set offered to the dead people.
Serabi is a food street made from coconut milk and rice flour, cooked in a special earthenware frying pan on charcoal fire. It is consumed with the sauce or syrup made from golden colored sugar syrup, with coconut milk. Serabi is sometime cooked with pandan, so the color can be green as well. The famous Serabi is in Solo, named Serabi Notosuman.
21. Putu Mayang
I have to say this is one of my favorite snack. Its soft, sweet, and savory. The Putu Mayang is made from colored dough mixed of coconut milk, starch, rice flour, sugar, and salt. The dough is inserted to the Putu mayang grater that gives the noodle-like shape and then steamed. The best part of Putu Mayang is the syrup. The syrup is made from red sugar, pandan, coconut milk, sugar, salt, and water. Nothing can go wrong with Putu Mayang.
22. Bubur Mutiara (Pearl Porridge)
As you can guess by its look, it is made from again, coconut milk, red sago, sugar, starch, water, and pandan. It is cooked until a bit gooey. The porridge is then served with cocunut milk. It usually sold in traditional market and consumed in various traditional occasions.
23. Kue Pukis
This cake is sold in the street food. It’s the best Hot and sweet fix on the cold rain day. To make this sweet cake, a mixed of wheat flour, coconut milk, eggs, yeast are poured into a special half-circled mold until it is cooked.
This snack is very traditional and it is made from rice flour, wheat flour, shredded coconut, coconut milk, salt, sugar, and food coloring. This food is popular in Java, but not every food market sell this.
25. Lumpia (Lumpia Semarang)
Last but not least in Lumpia. This is my favorite snack, and it’s very popular in the city where i was born. This snack was popularized by Indonesian Chinese in Semarang and it’s almost similar with spring rolls. There are two types, the usual one and the fried one. One that’s shown in the picture is the fried one. The snack is made from a bamboo shoots mixed with egg, prawn, or shrimp, wrapped in lumpia pastry. It is best enjoyed with the sweet sauce, made from tapioca starch, garlic, water, coconut, sugar, and baby shallot. The flavour is very reach, best eaten when it’s fresh from the pan, and it’s also very tasty. Two of them are never enough.
As you may have read from above, many Indonesian snacks are made coconut milk as a key ingredient. It brings the sweet and thick flavor to the snacks.
Those that are not sweet are usually deep fried, because we love fried snacks and we usually eat them with green chili, and accompanied with hot tea or coffee. The simple deep fried snacks are usually made by individual family, although you may find them in street kiosk as well. And those sweets that involve a more sophisticated process usually are sold in the food market, street kiosk, or a store that specialized in making them. Since they are often sold in food market, we call it “Jajan Pasar”. “Jajan” is a verb that means to buy a snack, and “pasar” means market. So jajan pasar refers to snack that are sold in the market. If you’re to visit Indonesia, try them and guarantee your tongue will definitely dance like nobody’s around.