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15 Appetizing Traditional Foods From Sumatera

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Indonesia is a country which is rich with cultural heritage such as traditional dance, custom, foods, etc. Traditional food is a soft diplomacy tool to introduce Indonesian culture to the world. Rendang is nominated as the number 1 world’s most delicious food in the world in 2011. Amazing, right? Rendang is one of the traditional foods come from Sumatera province.


Not only Rendang Sumatera also has more delicious traditional foods that you need to know and try if you visit Sumatera province, check it out.

1. Rendang

This meaty, full of spices, and spicy dish is a staple food in Sumatera. Patience is highly required in the process of making rendang because you need to cook it continuously for 3 to 4 hours and adding coconut milk until the dish is bland and cooked well.

This dish is durable, you can save rendang for weeks without being anxious that the food will be expired. Why? Rendang use natural food ingredients which have anti-microbial characteristic such as: garlic, onion, ginger, etc. On the other hand, Rendang recognized as number one delicious food in the world.

2.  Sala Lauak

Pariaman located in a seaboard near the Pariaman Sea therefore the traditional food is affected by the local people’s livelihood. Fish is the main ingredient to make sala lauak, the fish’ meat needs to be crushed before it gets mixed with the flour.

The next step is to mix the crushed meat, seasoning and layer it with flour so the dough will be crispy.  Another traditional food which has sala on its name is nasi sala, the rice is wrapped by banana leaf to attract your appetite.

3. Nasi Kapau

This traditional food is worth a try! Pretty similar with gudeg Yogyakarta, nasi kapau is served with jackfruit curry (sayur nangka) however nasi kapau is more complete because there are some of side dishes that can be added when you eat nasi kapau. The side dishes is starting from vegetables, gulai and other processed meaty dishes.

You may read about Traditional Food of YogyakartaTraditional Foods in Ubud Bali , as well as Traditional Foods in North Sumatra.

4. Gulai Paku

Indonesian people who have not tried this traditional dish must be shocked when hearing or reading this traditional food’s name. In Indonesian language paku means nail but gulai paku’s main ingredient is actually fern plants or Indonesian called it as tanaman paku/pakis.

Since this plant is a spora you cannot cook a random plantation, a fern plant which is qualified as vegetable usually grow in the riverside. Slice the main ingredient into small pieces, add coconut milk, add seasoning and spices, do not forget to squeeze lime to complete the dish.

5. Satay Padang

Padang is a heaven for culinary lovers, besides rendang Padang also has another iconic traditional food which is sate Padang. The sauce is rich with spices so it is different with the common sate in Indonesia which is smeared with peanut sauce.

The common sate is made of chicken or lamb meanwhile sate Padang use beef, cow intestines, cow tongue, cow lungs, etc.

6. Pempek

Another Sumatera’s traditional food is pempek which is originated from Palembang, South Sumatera. Pempek main ingredient is a grinded fish which is covered with flour before it is getting fried.

According to its shape and its stuffing, pempek is divided into several kinds; pempek kapal selam, lenjer, tofu pempek, pempek telok (stuffed with egg), grilled pempek (tunu), etc. The final touch is to pour a sour, sweet and spicy sauce which is called cuko and your delicious pempek is ready to serve.

7. Mie Aceh

Just like its name this traditional food belongs to Banda Aceh. This noodle is popular because it is very healthy and satisfying. Mie Aceh usually use a thicker noodle compared to the original noodle. In order to make this traditional food healthier beef, lamb, crab and shrimp are also served with a thick spicy curry.

You may want to read about Traditional Food of JavaStreet Food in Jakarta, then Indonesian Street Food.

8. Seruit

This Lampung traditional food is called seruit, a grilled or fried fish which is mixed with chili shrimp paste, tempoyak (processed durian) or mango.  Seruit is named after the word nyeruit  which means gathering because Lampung people likes to gather around to tighten their relationships.

You may want to read Famous Local Foods in Bali, Famous Sundanese Food in Bandung, as well as Indonesian Vegetarian Food with Authentic Taste.

9. Gulai Ikan Patin

Gulai ikan patin or silver catfish curry is a traditional heritage for Jambi people. The spices used such as turmeric, cilantro, pepper, galangal, ginger, red chili, onion, garlic, lemongrass, cinnamon.

Then, to make it, crush the mentioned ingredients and mix it with coconut milk. The special ingredient of this curry is tempoyak or a fermented durian to make the flavor stronger.

Read more about Famous Indonesian FoodMost Expensive Coffee in Indonesia, and Rice Cultivation in Indonesia .

10. Naniura

Do you know sashimi? You do not need to go to Japan to taste sashimi especially if you are not a Japanese. Naniura is a name for Tapanuli traditional food which use golden fish as the basic ingredient, the making process is almost look like sashimi because the fish is left uncooked or raw.

However a sour seasoning is poured on the fish so it does not smell fishy and the seasoning is marinated perfectly. Back then tis traditional food can only be served to King and the nobility but now ordinary people can have it too.

11. Bika Ambon

If you think that Bika Ambon is originated in Ambon then you are wrong. Bika Ambon is a traditional food from Medan, North Sumatera. Flour, egg, sugar, coconut milk are the basic ingredients of this traditional food. The world is dynamic therefore this food is also influenced by the development era.

Bika Ambon has been modified to have more flavors such as cheese, vanilla, chocolate, pandan leaf, strawberry, etc.

12. Pendap

Do you ever heard of pepes? Pepes is a traditional way of food wrappings using banana leaf. Mackerel, grated coconut and Indonesian spices can be transformed into something delicious in Bengkulu.

Different with pepes, pendap use taro leaf as a wrapping, making it as a perfect thing to try if you visited Sumatera especially Bengkulu.

13. Lemang

Tebing Tinggi is known as Lemang Town because you can find lemang almost everywhere in Tebing Tinggi. What is lemang? Lemang is a traditional food made of glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk wrapped by banana leaf and being cooked in a bamboo.

Lemang stuffing are varied from sweet thing such as serikaya, syrup of palm sugar or jam. Other stuffings such as rendang, egg, and lamb are also added to make it tastier. You can adjust the stuffing according to your own preferences.


  • Galamai: This is a delicious market snack that is made of glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and palm sugar. This sticky and sweet snack is known as dodol in West Java.
  • Kue 8 jam (eight-hours cake): Even the name itself is so catchy making this cake as one of Sumatera’s traditional foods that could not be skipped. The name kue 8 jam is based on the making process which requires 8 hours steaming. This cake is usually served during holiday in Palembang.
  • Lompong Sagu: It derived of West Sumatra with a sweet taste and roasting aroma. Usually served after baked and plating on leaf, sprinkled with grated coconut.
  • Sanjai Spicy Chips: Cassava chips which sliced thinly with three variant such as original, salty, and spicy.
  • Dendeng Balado (Spicy Sliced Meat): It from West Sumatra, made from dried beef and add spicy taste.
  • Kampiun Porridge: Porridge that contain mix of white and black glutinous rice, pulp, green bean pulp, candy pulp, as well as slices of banana.

Finally those are complete explanation about traditional foods from Sumatra island that you must know, and maybe try if you decided to stay in Sumatra for a long time.

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Kategori : Food and Beverage