Indonesian food is more versatile and diverse than many people give it credit for and much of that can be seen in its unique breakfast dishes. More often than not, an Indonesian breakfast will err on the side of savory as things such as rice and vegetables take center stage in many of the dishes that are eaten first thing in the morning. This also makes Indonesian cuisine one of the healthier choices when it comes to breakfast.
With so much time to change up a routine and try new foods, Indonesian breakfast dishes are definitely something that can be incorporated into anyone's daily menu. Many are quick, easy to make, and full of flavor and essential nutrients - which is exactly what the first meal of the day should be.
This is an essential dish to Indonesia as it's also the country's national dish. Many countries have their own versions of fried rice and this is an Indonesian take on the popular comfort dish, although it's also found throughout Singapore as well as Malaysia. According to Taste Atlas, the inspiration for this dish came from China as the two countries began a mutual trade, and this is also where the belief came from that wasting food was a sin. Thus, a rice dish was created in an effort to use up leftover food while also providing rice as a vehicle by which to serve and deliver it.
This dish is usually made with rice that has been cooked one day prior and in order to reheat it, it's cooked in a frying pan along with spices such as ginger, garlic, and chili, along with shallots. Sweet soy sauce is often added which is how this dish became so synonymous with Indonesia, as this flavor profile is unique to the country. To finish the fried rice, an egg is usually added either to the rice or served on top of it, making this a complete - and delicious - breakfast dish.
Bubur Ketan Hitam
Porridge is a common breakfast dish in many countries and every cuisine seems to have its own version of it, and that's exactly what bubur ketan hitam is. This dish is versatile as both a sweet breakfast option as well as a dessert option. It starts out with a base of palm sugar, coconut milk, and black glutinous rice. As the rice cooks, it thickens the mixture (just as pasta or any other rice dish would) which is what transforms the milk mixture into a thick, sweet custard. Occasionally, salt and pandan leaves are added for a boost in flavor and to balance out the overall sweetness of the dish, and it's traditionally topped with mung beans and served with bread. A highly versatile dish, it's also served as a dinner option or during tea time.
In keeping with the same theme of porridge, padeda is the most traditional by both definition, ingredients and texture. This dish has a unique appearance, viscous-like and almost gelatin in nature, but tastes amazing. The reason for this is due to an ingredient called sago which is actually a very important food to Maluku and Papua. Similar to rice, the sago plant gives off a flour that is used to create this porridge, giving it its thick and creamy texture. Sugar, water, and salt are then added and when finished, the porridge resembles something between a traditional porridge or pudding. A squeeze of fresh lime juice or local fruit such as papaya is often served on top of this dish, which is common for breakfast in Indonesia.
There's a common theme of porridge in Indonesia for breakfast and while it's delicious, it's also packed with nutritional value and all of the good carbohydrates needed to take on the day. This porridge dish is savory as opposed to sweet and comes together like a stew, with a base of delicious broth and vegetables such as pumpkin, corn, spinach, cassava, and the like added to make it meaty, as it's usually served as a vegetarian dish. Occasionally, fish is served along with it but only during special occasions. To increase both the spice level and the flavor, a scoop of sambal may sometimes be served with it, making this one of the most flavorful ways to eat breakfast and also a local favorite. This dish is commonly seen throughout Indonesia, especially in the city of Manado in North Summatra.