Although many Indonesian people love meats, it does not mean you cannot live as vegetarian in Indonesia. In fact, there are varieties of Indonesian foods that are traditionally vegan. In addition, not only these foods are vegan friendly, but they are also appetizing!
Here are my top four delicious yet healthy vegetarian dishes you should definitely try:
Tempeh is made of fermented soybean. It is a popular Indonesian staple food that can be found easily in supermarket, traditional market, or tukang sayur (street vendor selling vegetables). For those who are not a fan of the texture of tofu, Tempeh can be a good option because it has firmer and meatier texture than tofu. It is also less processed than tofu and has more protein and fiber. Tempeh is high in protein and contains high levels of vitamins B3, B2, B5, and B6. Since it has the same protein quality as meat, it is often used to substitute meat. Its health benefits and affordable price have successfully made tempeh a favorite family dish. Moreover, tempeh can be used for a variety of delicious dishes such as orak-arik tempeh manis/pedas which is sliced tempeh fried with soy sauce, onions, garlic and chilli, tempeh mendoan which is fried tempeh coated with spiced batter, and tempeh penyet which is a flattened tempeh (penyet means flattened) seasoned with various spices. To make tempeh taste more delicious, it is much recommended to serve it with the mighty sambal which is a traditional Indonesian tasty chilli sauce.
Gado-Gado is a popular Indonesian salad which uses various vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, carrots, bean sprouts, green beans, corn, and young jack fruit. Usually the vegetables are sliced or chopped before being steamed. Gado-gado can be mixed with sliced potatoes, fried tofu and tempeh. Sliced boiled egg is usually added to Gado-gado. However, since the vegetarian diets can be varied, you can just omit the boiled egg. Gado-gado will not be complete without the crunchiness of Kerupuk or prawn crackers and the fantastic peanut sauce. The combination of vegetables, Kerupuk, and peanut sauce is perfect to create a tasty sensation in your taste bud.
3. Toge Goreng
Toge Goreng is originally a popular dish from Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. Toge means bean sprout, while goreng means fried. If we put these two words together Toge goreng it seems as if the meaning is fried beansprout. Although the name may suggest so, actually the Toge (bean sprout) in toge goreng is not fried but steamed. However the ingredients are fried, so perhaps that’s how it gets its name. Toge goreng can be found easily in restaurants or street vendors. It is also quite easy to make toge goreng. Therefore if you are craving for toge goreng but do not feel like going outside and you happen to have the ingredients at home, you can always make it. The ingredients used in making toge goreng are mainly onions, garlic, and red chili pepper. As for the sauce, mainly you need soy sauce, white pepper, salt, and sugar. To complement the toge, usually steamed tofu and noodle are added. The combination of the ingredients, sauce, toge, tofu, and noodle are perfect for delicious breakfast.
Ketoprak is a traditional dish which originates from Jakarta, Indonesia. Similar with Gado-Gado and Toge Goreng, soybean sprout is one of the main elements of Ketoprak. However, the distinct characteristic of Ketoprak is the use of Bihun or vermicelli which is normally not used in Gado-Gado or Toge Goreng. Street vendors or restaurants usually sell Ketoprak. But if you wish to make one yourself, it is not a difficult task. Basically Ketoprak consists of steamed soybean sprouts, steamed vermicelli, fried tofu, and deep fried peanuts which create the salty and crunchy sensation. Then you mix them with our all-time favorite peanut sauce which is cooked with palm sugar, Thai chilies, and garlic. Don’t forget to add fresh cucumber and last but not least the incredible prawn crackers! If you wish, you can also add hard-boiled egg on to it. Bon appétit!
By Nishrin Azzely QOWAMUNA, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia