Vegetarians may need to try something new to satisfy their palate, as vegetarian food can be boring. If you want to level up your vegetarian experience, you might want to try different vegetarian food from other countries, such as Indonesian vegetarian food.
Even if you are not a vegetarian by heart, you might still want to try Indonesian vegetarian food should you visit Indonesia one day. Here are some of the Indonesian foods that you can eat as a main meal, appetizer, or as a side dish.
Indonesian Vegetarian Dishes
Gado-gado means “mix-mix” when translated to English. It is a combination of different vegetables that is drizzled with freshly made peanut sauce. The dish is mainly composed of sliced deep fried tofu and tempe or Indonesia’s fragmented soybeans.
Boiled, blanched or steamed vegetables such as potato, cucumber, bean sprouts, spinach, string beans, cabbage, lettuce are then added before pouring the peanut sauce as a dressing. The peanut sauce is made of ground fried peanuts, chili, salt, lime juice and leaves, palm sugar and sweet soy sauce, and water.
Gado Gado is usually served with lontong or rice wrapped in banana leaf, emping (an Indonesian style fried crackers that are made from melinjo or gnetum gnemon), and kerupuk or cracker. Fried shallots and boiled egg can be added as toppings as well.
Tahu or Tofu
This popular food in Indonesia is one of the vegetarian side dishes. Tofu is usually marinated in a mixture of sugar and coconut milk before deep frying. In Indonesia, tofu dishes are popular and they use tofu as their main ingredient. It is served with white rice or vegetable soup.
That includes Tahu Gejrot, which is made from fried tofu or tahu pong with sauce made from palm sugar, sweet soy sauce, vinegar, bird’s eye chili, garlic, shallots asam jawa and other spices. You can also find Tahu isi, which is a filled tofu with mixed vegetables then coated with rice flour deep fried in hot cooking oil.
Tahu Sumedang or simply deep fried tofu is also popular, together with semur tahu, perkedel and other dishes. You’ll also get tofu with omelet egg, beansprout, peanuts, and lontong rice cake with sweet and sour soy sauce called Tahu telur. Tahu bacem is a tofu vegetarian dish that is made of tofu boiled with coconut water, palm sugar and spices then fried until brown color.
Vegetable Fried Rice
Indonesian cuisine has been inspired with some Chinese influence when Chinese immigrants set food on their land. This is why fried rice has been a thing in Indonesia, and you can find different variations being served from restaurants, hawker’s food, stalls to humble stroller carts (as a street food).
This is one of the great vegetarian options if you visit the country one day. Vegetable fried rice in Indonesian cuisine is known as “nasi goreng biasa”. Vegetarians would love the mixed vegetable, rice, salt, garlic, chili and sweet soy sauce.
Depending on one’s preferences and vegan recipes, they can add scrambled eggs, cucumbers, crackers and fried shallots.
Just like gado-gado that uses peanut dressing sauce, Ketoprak is a famous vegetarian food and noodles dishes in Indonesian cuisine. This vegetarian dish that is originally from Jakarta is made with different ingredients.
It includes fried tofu, boiled rice vermicelli, lontong or ketupat (a rice wrapped in banana leaves), smashed chili, garlic, ground fried peanut, water , salt, palm sugar, sweet soy sauce and vegetables such as bean sprouts, sliced cabbage and cucumber.
Peanut sauce is drizzled, then crackers and fried shallots (bawang goreng) are used as toppings on this vegetarian food. Though Ketoprak is served in restaurants or food stalls (warung), it is usually sold on stroller carts ( street food) in Jakarta.
Originally from Betawi, Jakarta Indonesia, Nasi Uduk is a vegetarian food that is made of mixed rice. Steamed rice cooked in coconut milk with pandanous leaves, clove and lemongrass is what makes this Indonesian cuisine.
It is also served with bawang goreng as a topping and sides dishes such as boiled eggs, or shredded coconut, omelet, tofu, orek tempe (fried spicy tempe), sambal kentang (fried spice potato), and gorengan (Indonesia fritter) can also be added.
Vegetable dishes could be a thing in Indonesian food. Urap or Urab is an original vegetarian dish from Indonesia that is also known as salad or often served as side dishes with other foods.
Vegetables such as long beans, water spinach, spinach, basil, bean sprouts, carrot, young cassava leaf, papaya leaf, cabbage and other vegetables are mixed together to make this Indonesian food. They are steamed and sliced before mixing with seasoned and spiced grated coconut (serundeng) for dressing.
The grated coconut is made with ground garlic,shallot, chili, palm sugar, tamarind juice, salt, coconut sugar or brown sugar, lime leaves and more spices. This makes the dish very tasty and crunchy, which is good to be eaten as a main meal or as a side dish with rice, crackers, and other foods like meat dishes.
Gudeg is an Indonesian cuisine that has a sweet taste and is made from young jack fruit. This traditional food is originally from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The young unripe jackfruit is boiled with palm sugar and coconut milk. Other spices such as garlic shallot, coriander seed and other spice combinations are also added.
Vegetarians would often serve Gudeg with side dishes such as stir fried tempeh, tofu or hard boiled egg. It can also be served with rice and other foods. It is famous in many street food stalls lining the city’s famous Malioboro Street and put in big enamel pots.
Two main dishes made up the Lontong Sayur, and those are lontong (rice cooked in banana leaf) and vegetable coconut soup. The vegetable coconut soup is composed of different vegetables like young jack fruit, boiled in coconut milk, spices and other ingredients.
Lontong is cut into small cakes and served with vegetable coconut milk soup, sprinkle with fried shallot, cracker, orek tempe (fried spice tempe), egg and other foods. You can find lontong sayur in different areas of Indonesia, such as restaurants, food stalls, food court, warung or street food.
Sayur Asem is Indonesia’s equivalent to Thailand’s Tom yam soup, which has a sour taste. Sayur asem also translates to sour vegetable in English and is originally from Sundanese people, Banten, Indonesia.
Though Sayur Asem and Tom Yam soup both have sour tastes, they differ on how they’re prepared and the ingredients used in each dish. Sayur Asem is more on the vegetarian side as it is made from Tamarind based soup. Various vegetables such as peanuts, young jackfruit, chayote, melinjo, long beans, corn and some sour vegetables are then added.
Sayur Asem is usually eaten with white rice and chili sauce or sambal (Indonesian chili) and other side dishes are also served. Corn fritters can also be a good side dish to this Indonesian cuisine.
Just like lontong sayur, Sayur lodeh is also a dish that is coconut milk based. It is made from vegetables such as jackfruit, squash, long beans, eggplant, corn, tomato, tofu, tempe (Indonesian fragmented soybeans), melinjo, bay leaves, and galangal, together with other spices boiled in coconut milk.
This vegetarian dish is usually cooked as home dishes but you also can find it in restaurants, food stalls, warung and even on street food stalls. Serve it with steamed rice or lontong rice cakes or with other dishes.
This dish is similar to Gado-gado that uses a peanut savoury sauce. This traditional Indonesian salad is made from a mixture of vegetables with peanut dressing.
Boiled or blanched vegetables are drizzled with a savory thick sauce made from ground fried peanuts, water, palm sugar, tamarind juice, garlic, and chili pepper.
You can serve Pecel as it is or along with steamed rice, lontong or ketupat, crackers and other side dishes.
Bakwan is a popular Indonesian fritter served in different local restaurants and food stalls in Indonesia. It is made from rice flour (tepung terigu), egg, coconut milk, salt, garlic, shallot, sugar, and white paper mixed with other ingredients. Then it is deep fried in cooking oil and served with chili sauce on the side.
Bakwan Jagung (Bakwan consist of corn), Bakwan Udang (Bakwan consist of prawn or ebi) and Bakwan Sayur (Bakwan consist of mix vegetable cutting into small pieces such as carrot, bean sprout, shredded cabbages, daun bawang, etc) are the different types of Bakwan, but Bakwan sayur and jagung are considered as the vegetarian versions.
Sambal Goreng Kentang
If you love any types of potato dishes such as mashed potatoes or stir fried potatoes, check out this Indonesia’s take on fried spicy potato. Sambal goreng kentang is one of popular Indonesia side dishes like orek tempe and tofu dishes.
It uses simple ingredients to create the dish, such as potatoes that are cut into small cubes before deep frying into hot cooking oil. After deep frying, spices like garlic, shallots, chili, pecans and lemon basil are stir fried with the potatoes.
The vegetarian version of this dish would skip the additional Fried Chicken Gizzard and Liver, meat or seafood like ebi or prawn, which is known as sambal kentang ati ampela.
Favorite Indonesian Vegetarian Food
Surely, there are lots of choices when it comes to getting your Indonesian vegetarian food. Fried noodles or other noodle dishes mixed with savory ingredients such as shrimp paste, leafy greens, green beans, spring onion, and oyster sauce are also available.
You can have their famous Mie Goreng, tempeh rendang or nasi goreng. Should you visit Indonesia one day, make sure to try their local delicacies, especially their famous vegetarian food.