Indonesian to English Food Glossary

Indonesia is known for its rich and diverse cuisine, with a wide variety of flavors and ingredients. If you are planning to explore Indonesian cuisine or travel to Indonesia, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with some key terms and ingredients used in Indonesian cooking. This Indonesian to English food glossary will provide you with translations and explanations of common Indonesian food terms, helping you navigate menu items, recipes, and local markets with ease.

  • Nasi Goreng – Literally meaning “fried rice,” nasi goreng is a popular Indonesian dish made from cooked rice stir-fried with a mix of vegetables, meats, and seasonings.
  • Sambal – Sambal is a spicy chili-based sauce or condiment that is commonly served with Indonesian dishes. It adds a burst of heat and flavor to any meal.
  • Gado-gado – Gado-gado is a traditional Indonesian salad made from blanched or steamed vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and boiled eggs, all topped with a peanut sauce dressing.

In addition to these three examples, this Indonesian to English food glossary contains translations for other popular Indonesian dishes, spices, herbs, and cooking techniques. Whether you are planning to cook Indonesian recipes at home or try local dishes during your travels, having this glossary at hand will enhance your culinary experience and help you fully appreciate the rich and vibrant flavors of Indonesian cuisine.

Indonesian Food Glossary


  • Bumbu: A term used to refer to a blend of spices and herbs used as a base for many Indonesian dishes.
  • Sambal: A spicy sauce made from chili peppers, typically used as a condiment or flavor enhancer for various dishes.
  • Kecap manis: A sweet soy sauce commonly used in Indonesian cooking to add a rich and sweet flavor to dishes.
  • Terasi: A paste made from fermented shrimp or shrimp paste, commonly used as a seasoning in Indonesian cuisine.
  • Ketupat: A type of dumpling made from rice that is cooked inside a palm leaf pouch, commonly served with satay or curry dishes.

Dish Types:

Dish Types:

  • Nasi goreng: Indonesian fried rice, typically cooked with a combination of meat, vegetables, and spices.
  • Gado-gado: A vegetable salad dish with peanut sauce, often served with fried tofu and boiled eggs.
  • Rendang: A slow-cooked beef dish with rich and spicy flavors, considered one of the signature dishes of Indonesian cuisine.
  • Sate: Skewered and grilled meat, usually served with a peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce.
  • Nasi padang: A type of Indonesian cuisine that originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group, featuring a variety of dishes served with rice.

This glossary is just a starting point to help you navigate the diverse world of Indonesian cuisine. Exploring and trying these ingredients and dishes will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for the flavors and culture of Indonesia.

Indonesian Cooking Techniques

1. Grilling

Grilling is a popular cooking technique in Indonesian cuisine. It is used to cook various types of meat, such as satay (skewered meat) and grilled fish. The meat is usually marinated in a mixture of spices and then grilled over an open fire or charcoal. This technique adds a smoky flavor to the dishes, enhancing the overall taste.

2. Stir-Frying

2. Stir-Frying

Stir-frying is another commonly used cooking technique in Indonesian cuisine. It involves cooking ingredients in a small amount of oil over high heat. This method allows the flavors and aromas of spices and herbs to infuse into the ingredients quickly. Stir-frying is often used to prepare dishes like nasi goreng (fried rice) and cap cai (stir-fried vegetables).

3. Boiling and Simmering

Boiling and simmering are essential techniques in Indonesian cooking, especially for making soups and broths. Ingredients like meat, vegetables, and herbs are boiled or simmered in a flavorful broth to create rich and hearty soups, such as soto ayam (chicken soup) and sayur lodeh (vegetable stew). This technique helps to extract the flavors from the ingredients and create a delicious and comforting dish.

4. Steaming

Steaming is a healthy cooking technique used in Indonesian cuisine. It is commonly used to cook rice, vegetables, and fish. Steaming retains the natural flavors and nutrients of the ingredients while keeping them moist and tender. One popular steamed dish in Indonesia is tahu telur, which is a combination of steamed tofu and omelette, served with a savory sauce.

These are just a few examples of the cooking techniques used in Indonesian cuisine. The combination of these techniques, along with the vast array of herbs, spices, and ingredients, contributes to the diverse and flavorful dishes that make Indonesian cuisine so unique.

Add a comment