Ten favourite culinary inventions of Indonesia

While anything doused in the popular Sambal spicy chili sauce will do just fine for me, here's a list of my favourite traditional Indonesian foods, sauces, and/or dishes. Recommended to try on your next visit and then crave until the visit after that.

1. Gado-Gado

A boiled mix of veggies with a mound of thick peanut sauce on top, served with rice and an egg. This peanut sauce can be found in other dishes and it's quite simply: delicious.

2. Tempe

A patty of fermented soybean, usually fried and added to various dishes as a source of protein. It's like tofu, but BETTER!

3. Sambal

I must state this is the best sauce I've ever tasted and should be a staple condiment on tables worldwide. Unfornately I have yet to see it outside of Indonesia, so yes I will be importing a few litres to Canada and will be back when that runs out. It's sweet chili that leaves the mouth burning just long enough to forget before the next bite.

4. Olah-Olah

Boiled vegetables in a curry coconut milk. Indonesia's fine take on a curry dish, served with rice. Order it 'extra pedis' to clear out your sinuses, and feel alive.

5. Urap-Urap

A mix of vegetables- mainly green beans- in a salad form, tossed in a coconut-based sauce. Also known to present itself on the menu as Urab, it's another one of the many vegetarian options available on an Indonesian menu.

6. Kerupuk

Light, airy chips that sometimes come with a slight tint of pink, signifying a prawn flavour. I stick to plain when possible, dipped in Sambal (a common theme).

7. Banana Pancake

The banana pancake comes in various forms across the country. A staple in any guesthouse breakfast, it sometimes takes on more of a crepe form. On the streets you can find a thicker, more dessert like, treat called Martanak Manis with cheese, banana, and/or chocolate filling. This dessert version is crumbly with a fried exterior. Pro tip for pancakes: purchase a jar of peanut butter, carry it around with you all day in wait for your next pancake, then spread it on top. Peanut butter banana pancake > plain banana pancake, always.

8. Nasi or Mie Goreng Special

Translated, this is fried rice or fried noodles with a fried egg on top.  Lots of fried, lots of fast and cheap meals. You can get either version with tempe or ayam (chicken). Add Sambal and you should be 100% content with this consistent staple.

9. Sate

A skewer of meat (usually chicken or beef) seasoned, served with rice, and coated in the famous Indo peanut sauce.

10. Bintang

The fact that this beer isn't imported to Canada is the reason why this GIF exists. It had been 3 years too long since my last light, crisp, nostalgia-inducing Bintang beer. A major reason Indonesia will forever be on my travel list.