Food: It is surprising to talk of Indonesian cuisine in a country with so many different cultures, yet the basic ingredient of every meal is boiled white rice (nasi putih). Other ingredients that unite the island are coconut, chilli peppers and local herbs and grasses. The range and number of different spices harvested in this country is un-matched in the world. Rice is the basic ingredients of meals but the side dishes vary in ingredients and spiciness depending on the island. Javanese cuisine can be categorised into four regions; Sundanese (western Java), central Javanese, eastern Javanese and Maduran Javanese. Meals in central Java are cooked chicken (ayam) and gudeg. Javanese chickens are free-range, and wander everywhere in the villages. Consequently, they have a much better taste than factory farmed chickens. The Javanese cook their chicken for a couple of hours in a mix of herbs, spices and coconut milk before roasting them or deep-frying them for just over a minute at high temperatures, to crisp the outside. Gudeg is a delicacy from Yogyakarta and consists of new sweet potatoes boiled in coconut milk and herbs, served with chicken, eggs and buffalo meat which has been cooked with sambal sauce. An area’s religion also influences the ingredients. Balinese are the only Indonesians who eat pork (babi), while they see the consumption of beef, popular throughout the country, as taboo. Do not expect local Indonesian food to resemble the sort of Indonesian food that you may encounter in Europe. The most authentic dishes can be found in the warung, which are improvised stalls and kiosks in the streets. The cooks steam, deep-fry and cook in wadjans (Indonesian woks). You are better off going to the busiest of these kiosks, as this is usually indicates that the food is fresher and of better quality. Vegetarians are well catered for, some well-known dishes being
gado-gado and tjap tjoy. Fish (ikan) is also widely available.
Drinking Water: Indonesian mains water is not fit to drink. Buy bottles of purified water, available all over the country. However, make sure that the seal is intact and original. Ice cubes in drinks are also worth avoiding, as they are made from tap water.
Drinks: Despite the Islamic ban, the Indonesians do not particularly quibble over the consumption of alcohol. Beer brewed in Indonesia, such as Bintang or Anker, is widely available, although spirits are more difficult to obtain. Soft drinks and mineral water (air minum) are available. Coffee (kopi) is made from excellent quality Indonesian beans and is available everywhere, as is tea (teh). There is also a large range of fruit juices.