Reflecting the country’s diverse gastronomic scene, Indonesian breakfast offers its fair share of exotic food options. If you have never experienced breakfast in Indonesia, it’s time to explore the magical flavors and delicious food the country has to offer.
Locals usually have heavy meals consisting of boiled, steamed, or fried rice – with abundant side dishes like meat, veggies, and lentils. This is because people have historically been involved in laborious work that requires plenty of energy. Here, you can eat anything at any time of the day – even breakfast!
What Is Special About Indonesian Breakfast?
There’s a visible influence of Western cuisine on Indonesian food, but traditional Indonesian breakfast is all about local food and flavors.
The Indonesian breakfast menu is a collection of all kinds of foods, even the ones you can never imagine eating for breakfast. For instance, Nasi Goreng is one of the most admired fried rice dishes, which natives love for breakfast.
In Indonesia, breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day because locals want something fulfilling to jumpstart their mornings. A heavy meal allows Indonesians to stay full and energetic for longer.
Here are some of the most popular Indonesian breakfasts to learn about the fantastic options available.
Most Popular Indonesian Breakfast
Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)
Nasi goreng is one of the delicious Indonesian dishes influenced by Chinese culture. The Chinese used to fry the leftover rice instead of wasting it. Indonesian people adopted this culture and created their version of fried rice.
Although the dish is considered the national dish of Indonesia, it’s also quite famous in Singapore and Malaysia. You can easily find this in almost every corner of the country.
Nasi goreng is often served with a fried egg on top of the rice. It offers an earthly and smoky flavor of added caramelized soy sauce and shrimp paste. It’s already spicier than the original Chinese fried rice, but you can add even more chili to turn on the heat which locals love.
Indonesian Breakfasts – Porridge And Stew
Papeda (Sago Porridge)
Papeda is a traditional Indonesian breakfast made from sago and is considered a staple in the Eastern regions of Indonesia. It is most popular in Maluku and Papua.
The flour used in papeda is extracted from the trunks of sago trees. The extracted flour is mixed with sugar, salt, and water, creating a thick and sticky texture, whose appearance is similar to a pudding or porridge.
This Indonesian breakfast is mostly served with fish and mackerel broth, cork fish, and tuna fish or boiled yams. The fish is seasoned with lime and turmeric, which makes the broth slightly sour and yellowish.
Tinutuan (Rice Porridge)
Tinutuan is a rice porridge originating from North Sulawesi. It’s a nutritious porridge offering a hot spicy taste. This Indonesian breakfast is a treat for people who want to start their day with a spicy meal.
It includes a variety of veggies including spinach, pumpkin, cassava, corn, and more. People also add meat to it on special occasions.
You can easily find this traditional Indonesian breakfast in morning stalls. It’s served in a bowl accompanied by salted fish. Some locals also top it with fried shallots, tofu, and onion.
Bubur Ketan Hitam (Black Glutinous Rice Porridge)
Babur Ketan Hitam, also known as ‘bubur pulut hitam’ or ‘bubur injun’ is a common food item on the Indonesian breakfast menu. It’s a sweet pudding that offers a chewy texture and a delightful nutty flavor. Many people also have it as dessert in indonesia.
This aromatic treat is made from black glutinous rice. The rice is boiled until soft and coconut milk and palm sugar are added. Pandan leaves are an additional ingredient to make them aromatic.
This delicious Indonesian breakfast is perfect for a light morning meal. It’s usually served with bread and mung beans on the side. Some restaurants also top it with fried banana slices and cinnamon for added taste and texture.
Babur Ayam (Chicken Congee)
Babur ayam is a traditional Indonesian breakfast dish with a thick and plain texture. It’s an Indonesian-style chicken-rice congee made with shredded chicken meat. Many locals see it as their primary choice for breakfast.
The dish has several variants, each offering different flavors. This congee is not very spicy like other Indonesian foods. Therefore it typically comes with sambal and chili paste for diners who want to make it more flavorful.
You can find this Indonesian breakfast in every nook and cranny of the country. It’s topped with yellow chicken broth and drizzled with salty and sweet soy sauce. Some restaurants also serve it with condiments such as chopped scallion, crispy fried shallot, celery, fried soybean, and more.
Gudeg (Jackfruit Sweet Stew)
Gudeg is an iconic and sweet Indonesian breakfast item from the Javanese region. The dish is famous for the name “green jackfruit sweet stew,” because the main ingredient is young, unripe jackfruit.
This Indonesian breakfast item is made with jackfruit cooked with palm sugar, coconut milk, hard-boiled egg, and meat. Then some local spices and herbs are mixed with it. The reddish-brown color of gudeg comes from the teak leaves.
Gudeg has a dominant sweet taste with a slight spiciness. This sweet Indonesian breakfast is served with rice and thick coconut milk, egg, chicken, and tofu.
Traditional Indonesian Breakfast – Rice Dishes
Nasi Kuning (Yellow Rice)
It’s another scrumptious rice-based breakfast in Indonesia. This unique dish originated from the Java region of the country but is also found in Bali, Manado, and Banjar. In Java, this yellow rice is served in a cone called tumpeng and eaten at special events.
The dish also holds religious significance in Indonesia. The rice is given a yellow color as it symbolizes wealth, dignity, and gratitude. Therefore it’s served at traditional celebrations and ceremonies.
You can also track down this aromatic rice dish in the Indonesian breakfast menu of various local restaurants. It consists of coconut milk and turmeric.
Some people also add pandan and lemongrass during the cooking. This rice feels soft and is served with a variety of side dishes including sambal goreng, shredded omelet, and more.
Nasi Campur (Rice With Side Dishes)
Nasi campur is a delectable addition to the Indonesian breakfast spread. It’s also known as nasi rames among the locals. This is a staple meal in various Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
It’s a rice-based dish accompanied by meat, vegetables, peanuts, eggs, and fried shrimp krupuk. Eating nasi campur is like enjoying a buffet on a single plate. The side dishes can be varied depending on the region. It tastes like curry and gives the traditional flavor of Indonesian spices.
Indonesian Breakfast Food – Sweet And Savoury Cakes
Jajan Pasar (Assorted Cakes)
Jajan Pasar is a traditional Indonesian breakfast, which offers a variety of snacks on a single plate. It includes kue such as temper, bika ambon, kue getuk, and many other traditional Indonesian snacks. All these snacks are collectively known as jajan pasar and have a savory or sweet taste.
You can also find a variety of snacks in jajan pasar which are influenced by different cultures. For instance, ‘kue putu’ is an Indian Puttu. These assorted cakes can be enjoyed with smooth Indonesian coffee.
The famous treat is served beautifully in a tampah or bamboo winnowing. The breakfast is enjoyed drizzled with sweet palm sugar. You can find it in the local food street markets in Indonesia.
Lontong Sayur (Rice Cake With Vegetable Stew)
Lontong Sayur is a compressed rice cake dish that is widely popular across Indonesia. It offers a taste specific to every area. Therefore, you can find varying recipes in different regions of the country.
This creamy Indonesian breakfast is made with papaya, soy-braised tofu, and hard-boiled eggs. The white rice cakes are cooked with vegetables and velvety coconut milk. It’s usually enjoyed with shredded chayote, sambal, krupuk, tofu, tempeh, and creamy coconut milk curry.
Lontong sayur is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a breakfast, main dish, and even as a snack. This savory Indonesian breakfast is tasty enough to make your morning delightful.
Chai Tow Kway (Fried Radish Cake)
Chai tow kway is a famous Chinese dish originating from Chasoshan, China. This traditional Chinese dish also becomes a popular item on the Indonesian breakfast menu. It tastes fantastic and flavourful enough to make your day special.
Chai tow kway is a radish cake, made of shredded daikon, rice flour, and water. It can be steamed or pan-fried and garnished with scallions. The ‘cake’ is then cut into cubes and stir-fried with eggs and seasonings.
In Indonesia, you can find two versions of chai tow kway: white and dark. The white version is salty and lighter in taste. The darker version tastes sweeter from the added sweet soy sauce.
Kupat Tahu (Rice Cake And Tofu)
Kupat Tahu is a traditional breakfast in Indonesia, consisting of the largely popular Indonesian rice cake and tofu in peanut sauce. The dish offers a perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors. It also has a slightly sour finishing taste.
The main ingredients of this Indonesian dish include rice cake, tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, brown sugar, and sweet soy sauce. The tofu and peanuts are fried until golden brown, giving an earthy base.
This delicious Indonesian breakfast is further topped with peanut sauce for an immense fragrance. The sauce is made of garlic, chili, and pepper and has a nutty flavor. Some people also like to eat kupat tahu with sweet soy sauce.
Indonesian Breakfast Soup
Soto is the go-to for a soupy breakfast in Indonesia. It’s made from shredded chicken or meat, noodles, fried garlic, and eggs. Soto has a warm effect that gives a soothing effect on cold winter days.
The Indian spice turmeric is used in Soto to give it a yellow base and fried garlic is added to enhance the flavors. The ingredients make it a kind of mixture of Indian and Chinese cuisine.
There are at least 75 different versions of soto which you can find in different regions. These different versions of this Indonesian breakfast are prepared with almost 48 varieties of spices.
Soto can be served along with lontong and rice. Sometimes, lime juice, sweet soya sauce, and sambal are also served to give it a variety of flavors.
Indonesian Breakfast Bread
Roti Canai (Indonesian Flatbread)
Roti canai is an Indonesian flatbread widely eaten in several other countries of Southeast Asia. The dish is believed to have Indian origins and was brought by Indian laborers to the country. It’s the most satisfying food item in Indonesian cuisine for the morning munch.
This traditional Indonesian breakfast item is made of flour, water, eggs, and Indian clarified butter. The dough is given a multi-layered texture by folding it multiple times. It’s soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
This crispy Indonesian breakfast is, in our opinion, best served with mutton curry. However, you can also enjoy it with a variety of other curries. Some restaurants will also have vegetable curry so vegetarians can enjoy it as well!
Indonesian Breakfast Salad
Gado-Gado (Indonesian Salad)
Gado-Gado is an Indonesian version of mixed salad mostly enjoyed at breakfast. It consists of a variety of vegetables accompanied by egg, tempeh, and tofu. The vegetables are raw, slightly boiled, and steamed.
All the ingredients are tossed with a delicious peanut sauce. The sauce is made with peanuts or cashews and gives the salad a nutty taste that locals enjoy. Finally, crispy prawn crackers are added to the side of this salad.
This savory traditional Indonesian breakfast is a true representative of Indonesian cuisine. It’s sweet and spicy at the same time. You can quite easily find this dish at street food markets throughout the country.
Discovering Delicious Indonesian Breakfast
Indonesian cuisine is all about diversity. Similarly, you will find that different regions have different popular Indonesian breakfasts that they prefer.
Although busy people now go for an instant breakfast menu, many still love traditional food and prefer it over Western cuisine. Indonesians love their national gado-gado salad and other stir-fried rice dishes.
You’ll also find a lot of breakfast meals with steamed rice. These Indonesian breakfast rice dishes are served with other condiments and side dishes such as rice, different kinds of meat, egg, or fish. Try out these dishes yourself and discover what makes Indonesian food unique!