In this article we are going to be looking at some healthy Indonesian food. With Bali (yes, Bali is in Indonesia) being one of Australia’s favourite holiday spots, a bit of Indonesian food savvy has got to be a good thing. Although Indonesian food is some of the brightest and tastiest food in the world, it’s not known for being low in calories as they tend to fry many of their dishes.
However, there are options for people who are trying to eat healthier, as we found out when we explored their culinary traditions.
- Healthy Indonesian snacks
- Best Indonesian breakfasts
- Luscious lunches from Indonesia
Healthy Indonesian Snacks
Indonesia is full of lip-smacking delicious food; they love their spices and so it’s no surprise they add spices to all their meals even their breakfast and sweet dishes.
These are some of the healthiest tastiest snacks found in Indonesia.
BAKCANG – 500 Calories per 250g Serve
Bakcang is found in many regions of Indonesia, although it is believed to have originated in China. In China, it is called Zongzi. It is now a daily favourite snack for the people of Indonesia and their tourists.
Bakcang is cooked rice, usually stir fried with spices added to it, then wrapped in a bamboo or reed leaf and stuffed with either duck egg, ham, or chicken.
A typical Bakcang, or Zongzi, weighs 250 grams and contains 500 calories.
Today the fillings are endless, however traditionally the Indonesian people would have filled them with the glutinous rice and egg.
KEMBANG TAHU – 380 Calories per 100g
Kembang Tahu is another favourite snack among the Indonesian people. It is a soup made from warm sweet ginger and soft tofu. This soup is served warm, and it’s said to be a sufficient lunch for an adult without having bread or rice dish with it.
LEMPER – 227 Calories per 100g
Lemper is a quick and easy snack. It consists of a rice cake, stuffed with seasoned shredded chicken. This is a very popular choice from the street food stalls. They are seasoned with all the locally grown spices.
SIOMAY – 180 Calories per 100g
Siomay is yet another traditional favourite food in Indonesia. It is a very light meal which is ideal for lunch, it is like dim sum. They are usually made from mackerel and covered in a peanut sauce. At 180 calories per 100 grams, you’re looking at about 500 calories for a smallish portion.
The peanut sauce is very tasty, however it’s not too healthy, many of the Indonesian dishes are served with this sauce, so rather than have it poured over your food, you can ask for it to be put on the side.
This way you can regulate how much you eat.
BEST INDONESIAN BREAKFAST DISHES
One thing we have noticed about Indonesian food culture is that they seem to have a surprisingly different attitude towards food in comparison to people in Australia.
For example, many people in Australia would say cereal or sausage eggs and bacon are for breakfast, and a sandwich for lunch, then a pie and chips perhaps for dinner with beans.
In other words, we seem to prefer certain times of day to eat certain types of food. In Indonesia they don’t appear to have this attitude towards food. Rice and Curry for breakfast? No problem. It’s a breath of fresh air, seriously who doesn’t love a bowl of morning cereal before going to sleep at night?
You will understand more when you have a look at the breakfast dishes below:
NASI GORENG – 210 Calories per (small) serve
This is one of the most popular dishes across Indonesia’s food industry as it is a national dish, it can be found every corner of the country.
Nasi Goreng translates to fried rice; however, this is not just your common fried rice, this dish traditionally has a fried egg with it (as we might expect over here with any breakfast).
Also within this dish is a vast array of other food including cucumber, tomatoes, chicken, prawns and even nuts inside the rice.
It is packed with veggies and if you choose the right accompaniments, it won’t affect your healthy eating plan too much.
LONGTON SAYUR – 89 Calories per 100g
Longton Sayur is classic healthy Indonesian food. It’s basically a vegetable curry with hard boiled rice. Longton means the rice is cooked in a leaf.
In this dish the rice is over cooked and made hard like tofu, also in this dish it has many of the vegetables we would expect to see in a vegetable curry, but it also has papaya and galangal in it.
Once again, the Indonesian people take simple ingredients and make an interesting, delicious breakfast food.
GADO GADO – 255 Calories per 215g Portion
This is a really healthy choice of breakfast when you’re in Indonesia and trying to eat healthy. Gado gado translates to mix-mix, and it really does live up to it’s name.
It sends your taste buds crazy as it also has the peanut sauce and sweet thick soy sauce. Basically, this dish can be made with any vegetable you choose. This dish is also great for vegetarians, as we can remove the eggs.
MIE GORENG – 442 Calories per 100g
Although this is a stir-fried dish, again we can make it into healthy breakfast. This food is absolutely delicious and like many of the Indonesian dishes we can be flexible with what we add or remove, what we like or dislike.
We’re most familiar with the Instant type Indomie brand in Australia.
It’s made from thin yellow noodles, garlic, onions, chicken, eggs, beef, cabbage, tomatoes, fried prawn and any other vegetables you like.
It may sound odd eating these type of dishes for breakfast, personally we would eat this an evening meal, but people in Indonesia might find that odd.
LUSCIOUS LUNCHES FROM INDONESIA
When it comes to having lunch in Indonesia, the choice is superb, they certainly know how to tantalise our taste buds. The lunches are really good-sized portions too, and very filling. They could easily be served as a main meal at dinner time.
CHICKEN SATAY – 50 Calories per Skewer
Our number one lunch from Indonesia has to be the chicken satay (we say chicken, however like many of the Indonesian dishes, you can have any meat you want), and for anyone else looking for the healthiest option we would recommend this too.
Chicken satay is known all over the globe, but nobody makes it better than the Indonesian people. If you haven’t yet tried chicken satay, you are missing out.
This dish comprises of chunks of chicken (similar to a chicken kebab) it’s marinated and cooked with onions, garlic, coriander, kafir lime leaves, pepper, a little chilli powder and the list goes on.
The chicken satay also comes with peanut sauce, so just go easy on how much of this sauce you consume if you prefer eating healthier food. This is seriously tasty food and it’s one of the most sought-after street foods in Indonesia.
PASTEL TUTUP – 435 Calories per Serve
This dish is a firm favourite among locals and tourists in Indonesia. This is one hundred percent a comfort food, although it has potatoes on top, which is high carbs, the inside is full of protein and everything a healthy eater will enjoy. Portion size is an important consideration with this dish, with 435 calories in a 250g serve.
Pastel Tutup is very similar to a shepherd’s pie, although it has way more ingredients, however it tastes as good as, if not better than shepherd’s pie.
The inside of this pie consists of chicken or any other meat you choose, glass noodles, black ear mushrooms, potatoes, onions, shallots, carrots, peas, cheese, chives and eggs.
Indonesian people certainly know how to make food that packs a punch, they also expand the flavour of basic food sources by adding them with something else and the result is divine.
OTAK OTAK – 80 Calories per cake
Otak Otak is a fishcake of sorts. They are usually made using Spanish mackerel fish. They add spices and marinate the fish, and then wrap it in a banana leaf, and it’s tied closed.
It’s then grilled and served with the ever so popular peanut sauce. This is an ideal lunch and very tasty too. It can be served with salad or vegetables.
LALAP is Healthy Indonesian Food, no doubt!
In Indonesia they have around 8 specific salads you can ask for. Lalap is a favourite and consists of blanched and raw vegetables. It is, without doubt, one of the most healthy Indonesian food dishes.
When you order this salad, it isn’t just a side dish, your plate will be overflowing with all the shades of green from the spinach and cucumber, then the bright colours from the juicy fresh tomatoes.
This dish also has papaya leaves and cassava leaves in it. A real treat for anyone who loves a salad.
Healthy Indonesian Food is Tasty, but high calorie
Indonesia has a wide variety of food, and with them having volcanic soil and being in a really humid climate, they have an endless supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and spices.
They utilise this abundance of food in a very positive way. The colours and aromas are amazing, and the depth of flavour in their food is outstanding.
Looking at this list of healthy Indonesian food, we can see plenty of healthy options, but we wouldn’t put Indonesia and low-calorie food in the same sentence. Most of their food, as we said earlier is coated in flour then fried. It is possible to eat healthy there, however it would be very tempting to go off our diet plan there.