Life in Gurgaon

Ready, Satay, Go: Asian Games Shine Spotlight on Indonesian Cuisine

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It’s the second-biggest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympics. Currently, 11,300 athletes from 45 countries across Asia are competing in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia at the 18th annual Asian Games, a major sporting event that takes place every four years. The international spotlight on Indonesia is a prime opportunity to take a culinary voyage to the country to which we owe the wonders of sambal oelek and nasi goreng, to name a few. Here are a few of the foods that best distil the flavors of Indonesian cuisine:

Over the past few years, households around the world have pushed aside the bottle of Sriracha sauce in their fridge, to make room for another formidable chili paste: Indonesian Sambal oelek. Hot sauce aficionados need no introduction to the condiment that has found permanent places of honor on many a refrigerator shelf. Unlike Sriracha sauce which is both sweet and spicy, sambal oelek is a simple paste made with fresh red chilis, vinegar and salt. The result is a cleaner, more versatile flavor profile that can be dangerously moreish.

Indonesia’s tourism office calls satay — meat skewers marinated in a sweet soy sauce and barbecued over an open flame — the country’s most famous dish. But its origins can actually be traced back to India, when Muslim traders introduced the kebab concept to Indonesia, where the flavors were given the South East Asian treatment. Though chicken is the most common and most popular satay, other variations include lamb, beef, pork, scallops and ox tongue. Skewers are also accompanied by a savory dipping sauce, with spices and styles that vary according to different regions.