6 Must Try Food and Drinks in Indonesia

Indonesia is a country brimming with sights, shopping, and fabulous food. As a country known for its diverse use of spices, its cuisine is one of the most colorful and vibrant of any in the world. Here is a quick overview of some of the most traditional and popular foods of Indonesia, and some of what you can taste at Go Eat Give Destination Indonesia on March 26th in Atlanta…

 1. Gado Gado

Gado Gado is a traditional Indonesian dish suitable for every foodie, including vegetarians. The dish, translated to “mix-mix,” is a blend of various vegetables, tofu, and tempeh in a peanut sauce. It is sometimes served with crispy crackers as a snack, or on its own as a side or entree with rice.


2. Saté

An Indonesian dish the is well known in the West and is similar to a shish kabob. Sate consists of different kinds of meat roasted over coals on bamboo skewers, and is often times paired with a peanut sauce. The meat may include chicken, beef, pork, tofu, and more. Saté originated in Java and was a creation of the Indonesian street vendors, but has spread around Indonesia and to neighboring countries.


3. Kerak Telor

This dish is a crispy Indonesian “frittata” made with sticky rice, shrimp, coconut, shallots, and spices. Duck or eggs are commonly added to the meal based on the customer’s preference. Kerak Telor is one of the most popular street foods in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and derives from the Betawi culture. The dish also is said to resemble the western omelet though its spice and crispness set it apart.


4. Rendang

Rendang originated in Pandang, a city in Sumatra, and is one of the most flavorful and iconic dishes of Indonesia. It is referred to as “West Sumatran caramelized beef curry” by culinary experts and was named the #1 most delicious food in the world by CNN International readers. The dish is made with beef, which is marinated, in a special curry for hours. Rendang can also be served dry as a soft jerky, but this is reserved only for special occasions.


5. Cendol

Cendol is a traditional Indonesian dessert drink that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or tasted before. The base is made up of coconut milk, palm sugar, and shaved ice, and is mixed with various kinds of jelly noodles. The noodles are made out of red beans, rice, or even grass jelly. Iced cendol with durian fruit and chocolate milk is also popular in Indonesia.


6. Bintang Bir Pilsner

If you ever find yourself in Indonesia during a night out, you’re bound to run into someone drinking Bintang Beer. It was introduced to the country by the Heineken brand during the 1930s under the original name Java Bier, and later took on its’ current name in 2006. Bintang means “star” in Indonesian, and the Bintang bottle features a red star that is reminiscent of the classic Heineken bottle. Additionally, the taste of Bintang is said to be very similar to Heineken with its’ malt and hop flavor.


A “Culturally Fresh” Lebanon


Go Eat Give had the pleasure of welcoming a new group of attendees to Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s Restaurant last week!  The Greening Youth Foundation, a non-profit that works with underserved and underrepresented children to create overall healthy communities, attended the event bringing 15 students from Grady High School in Atlanta. And, this will not be the only time that Go Eat Give will host the Greening Youth Foundation. We are excited to announce that Go Eat Give has decided to partner with the Greening Youth Foundation to create a new program entitled “Culturally Fresh”. The aim of the program is to help raise awareness of international cultural and environment issues among the youth in the southern United States.


The night started off with appetizers – hummus and baba ganoush, and a Q&A session with Lebanese born Nicola, who was an educator himself before he opened his restaurant about 31 years ago.  The students were full of enthusiasm and asked him lots of questions about his life growing up in Lebanon and immigrating to the United States. In addition, they had to complete a treasure hunt assignment on Lebanon. The assignment included questions about the typical Lebanese diet, interesting facts, and history of Lebanon.

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The second course included stuffed grape leaves, fried artichoke hearts, traditional fattoush salad, tabbouleh, and kibbee, which were all delicious. Later, the main dishes served were kafta with Lebanese rice, chicken a la beef, and chicken with artichoke hearts.  Dinner was especially exciting since most of the students from Grady High had never tried Lebanese food before!


The bunch also had a unique opportunity to hear from Mr. Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center and adjunct professor at Emory Law.  He is also Lebanese born, specializes in Middle East conflicts, and speaks English, French, and Armenian.  Hrair discussed the culture of Lebanon, including how it evolved through time due to the influence of other countries and how this evolution has created the rich diversity of Lebanon’s population.

After the speaker and discussion, we were able to taste baklava for dessert (my personal favorite!).  Baklava is a rich and sweet pasty made of thin layers of filo dough and filled with nuts and honey.

Lastly, the students got a lesson in Dabke dancing from Nicola.  Typically there is a dabke leader, and the group joins hands together and stomps to the beat.  We had a blast, and theentire crowd at the restaurant got together for a line dance around the room.


We are very excited about the future of Culturally Fresh and truly enjoyed the students joining in on the food, friends, and fun.

What to eat at Holi?

The festival of Holi is celebrated once a year during spring time in India. It has a strong mythological, cultural and social significance. It is a day when people of all ages, religions and backgrounds come together to play with dry and wet colors, water balloons, and much more. Everyone would be outdoors, laughing, giggling, soaking in bright colors, leaving all reservations at home. Continue reading “What to eat at Holi?”

Introduction to New Mexican cuisine

Although New Mexico is one of the oldest states in the continent United States, its cuisine is very different from the rest of the country. Influenced by Spanish and Mexican settlers, the modern day New Mexican cuisine sits in a league of its own. Continue reading “Introduction to New Mexican cuisine”

Food of Nepal

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when it came to Nepali cuisine. All I could infer is that Nepal’s neighbors India, Tibet and China would have some role to play in it. That truly turned out to be the case.

Dal Bhat (Lentil, rice and vegetables)Food in Nepal can be categorized into three main categories – Nepali, Tibetan and Indian. Most menus will carry a few dishes from all three regions. The traditional Nepali meal is called Dal-bhat meaning lentil curry and rice. In some households, it is steamed white rice, in others it is served with the husk which calls for a special technique to eat it. The meal may be served with a vegetable dish such as saag (spinach), gobi (cauliflower), potatoes or pumpkins and a side of pickle. The dishes are cooked similarly to those in India. Meat is rare in Nepali households, but some have adopted chicken and buffalo into their diet. Cow (beef) is considered a sacred animal in Hindus and never killed for meat. You do find fish in the market but it’s not part of a mainstream Nepali diet. Bread and desserts are rarely served with the meal. In the villages, people eat two large meals a day – breakfast and dinner – both are typically the same.

Thukpa (spicy noodle soup)There are exclusive sweet shops that sell Indian style desserts such as jalebi, maal pura and mithai.  Poplar Indian snacks- samosa (pastry filled with potatoes) and pakoras (vegetable fritters) are also quite common. Cakes and pastries from India have seemed to have made their way here, including the famous bakery chain Hot Breads that has a few locations spread out through Kathmandu.


Mo-mo's (stuffed dumplings)

Mo-mo can be proclaimed as the national food of Nepal. There is hardly a restaurant that will not serve it, be it a fast food or fine dining. Fresh steamed, pan fried or deep fried mo-mo’s can be ordered stuffed with vegetables, chicken or buffalo. It is served with a spicy sauce. Thupka or noodle soup is also a popular dish which can be enjoyed on a cold winter evening. Chowmein (noodles sautéed with veggies) and other Chinese dishes can be found at Tibetan restaurants. Indian spices are commonly used to season all of the dishes served in Nepal and the food can be quite spicy to a foreign palate.

You will find Nepali’s drinking black tea with milk and sugar throughout the day. It is slightly different from Indian chai, lacking the ginger-cardamom spiciness and a lot milkier. In Kathmandu, international restaurants are quite popular due to the heavy influx of tourists from around the world. It is not uncommon to find mo-mo’s, pizza, butter chicken and Thai curry on the same menu. Price of food is quite cheap in Nepal. One can enjoy a good meal for $3 + drinks and dessert. Alcohol is heavily taxed and can double that check. I found cappuccinos to blow my budget too, priced at $3 a cup at most coffee shops.

Dinner with a Passport

I had the opportunity to attend the two-year anniversary of Dinner with a Passport this weekend. Dinner with a Passport is a foodie group started by Sonia Catalina Viteria, who is originally from Ecuador but now lives in Atlanta. Sonia had friends from all over the world who loved to cook and eat, so she started coordinating a once a month event doing just that. About ten people meet at someone’s home and a different country is picked each month. The hostess prepares dishes from participating countries while the rest of the members help cook and bring drinks.

After two years, the group has 194 members, so this particular event enjoyed the diversity accumulated over time. Every person was asked to bring a dish or drink from their representative country. The result was an international buffet that matched no other! There were original, home-cooked dishes from Greece, Poland, Russia, Peru, India, Ecuador, USA, Mexico, Italy, Japan, Spain and many more!

Scroll through the pictures and see if you can identify some of these dishes…

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An undiscovered gem from southern India

Karwar is a small town on the western coast of India, just south of Goa. It was an ancient site of sea trade visited by the Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese, French and later the British.  Karwar is still known for its pristine beaches and a bustling seaport.

Although a lot of information can be found on Goan cuisine, the cuisine of Karwar is largely a well kept secret. The two happen to have a few commonalities but still differ in taste, flavor and variety. You will not find any cookbooks revealing the regional recipes and the only way to get them is through a native. And so I did! One of my friends happens to be from Karwar. She has also lived in Mumbai and Goa, but is loyal to her Karwari roots. After months of persuasion, she finally let me into her classified kitchen closet in Atlanta where she showed me her stack of whole spices that I had never seen or heard of before. Among these was my new discovery – white kokum phool. Kokum is a small round fruit that has its origins in India. It has a sweet and sour taste, similar to tamarind. It is dried and sold in packet or made into powder. In Karwar cuisine, it is used as generously as salt and pepper.

During the course of the evening, we prepared shrimp fry, fish fry, and coconut chicken curry. The generous hostess had already cooked other side items to go with our banquet style dinner.

The shrimp and fish fry are prepared in the same manner and served as an appetizer.



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Shrimp Fry


1 teaspoon garlic paste

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon red chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ lemon

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

½ cup semolina (known as Sooji at Indian stores)

Mix the first four ingredients in a small bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice into the spices and add 1 tablespoon of oil to make it pasty. Rub the spice mixture on the shrimps using the half of the lemon to coat. Leave aside for 5 minutes.

Heat oil in a large fry pan on medium temperature. Spread the semolina on a plate. Lightly coat each shrimp with semolina on both sides, and then add to the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Bollywood in Persia

I celebrated a dear friend’s birthday this past weekend at a Persian restaurant called Fanoos located in Sandy Springs, a suburb of Atlanta. I have been to this place a few times before and over time, have come to know its owner Jalal.

Jalal moved from Northern Iran to the US over 30 years ago. He took over Persian Tea House couple of years ago. He renamed the place, added a bar but kept the menu and started offering a scrumptious lunch buffet. The restaurant is a typical family arrangement with an open hall and a water fountain in the centre. There are several booths with Persian carpets and cushions, where large families of 10-15 people can sit comfortably on the floor. In the corner, there is a glass booth with a tandoor (round clay oven) where the chef makes fresh bread as soon as you order.

Our group of friends started with a round of pomegranate martinis to celebrate the occasion. These were very different than what I have had at other bars before. Instead of the typical sweetness in the cocktail, there was a spicy flavor (from anise or cinnamon) but it was delicious and smooth!

Baskets of fresh bread was served with a small plate of starters (feta cheese, mint leaves, walnuts olives) even before we had our menus. We ordered some appetizers to share – Must O’ Kheiar, Must O’ Mousir,  Salad Shirazi, Dolmeh, Kashke Bademjon, Hummus, and Must O’ Kheia. If you have tried Lebanese or Turkish food before, some of these may sounds familiar.

For main course, I usually stick to one of their Polo’s, as that’s something I can’t find elsewhere. The Shirin Polo (sweet rice mixed with barberries, orange peels, sliced almonds, and pistachios) is my favorite. I ask them to pair it with Salmon, which is always grilled to perfection. When I am not in mood for sweet, I order the Zereshik  Polo (Rice mixed with barberry and saffron). My friends who ordered the lamb kebabs seemed to have loved it as well.

After dinner, we helped ourselves to the dance floor. Usually, there are belly dancers after 8pm on weekend. But since we were there on a Sunday, we asked Jalal to play some Bollywood music for us. Even the non-Indian patrons joined in for some Bhangra moves.

Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives



  • 1 whole large chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 large bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup green olives
  • 1/2 half preserved lemon


First rub the salt into the chicken pieces and then wash the chicken in the white wine vinegar and water. Leave for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry and place onto a clean plate.

For cooking, use a Tagine (traditional Moroccan dish) or a deep, heavy bottom casserole dish. Heat the dish on high and add oil to the hot dish heat for 3 minutes until the oil bubbles. Then add salt and chicken. Flip it over after 2 or 3 minutes. Then add saffron,  more salt, 1 onion, garlic, cumin and ginger. Mix all these ingredients into the chicken. Mix everything and try to place the onion under the chicken. Add the rest of the onion on the top then lemon, Two cups of water. Cook in medium heat for 45 minutes. Finally add olives 5 minutes before it is done.

Serve with fresh bread or couscous.