Indonesian cuisine was influenced by traders from India, the Middle East, China, and, later, Spain and Portugal. The Dutch, who colonized many of the 6,000 islands that make up Indonesia, adapted the buffet eating style of the native peoples, into the famous rijstaffel (or rice table). Sambals and tempeh, an adaptation of tofu, also originated in Indonesia.
Fried rice (nasi goreng) and fried noodles (mie goreng) are rice or noodles fried in coconut oil with eggs, meat, tomato, cucumber, shrimp paste, spices, and chilies. These are among the most popular everyday foods in Indonesia. Both nasi goreng and mie goreng are common breakfast dishes.
Sate (satay) consists of bite-sized bits of marinated or basted chicken, beef, mutton, shrimp, or pork skewered on veins of coconut palm, grilled over charcoal, then dipped into a hot sauce made of chilies, spices, and peanuts.
Nasi campur is a filling plate of steamed rice with flavorful beef, chicken, mutton, and/or fish, plus a mixture of eggs and/or vegetables, crisp onions, roasted peanuts, and shredded coconut heaped on top.
Rijstaffel (rice table), a sort of Indonesian smorgasbord, is a legacy of the Dutch. In colonial days, a ceremonial rijstaffel could include as many as 350 courses. Today, 10-15 courses is the norm. The total meal offers a variety of tastes—some sweet, others spicy, all eaten with steaming hot rice and condiments.
Krupuk is the Indonesian pretzel, a big, crispy, oversized cracker made from fish flakes, crab claws, shrimp paste, or fruit mixed with rice, dough, or sago flour. Krupuk is dried until it looks like thin, hard, colored plastic, then fried in oil. Indonesians use krupuk for bread.
An ever popular vegetarian dish is gado-gado, a healthy, warm vegetable salad combining potatoes and other boiled vegetables, a rich peanut sauce, and prawn-and-rice crackers (krupuk).
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