Indonesia, the fifth largest country in the world, is comprised of some 18,000 islands, about 6,000
of which are populated. The extensive ethnic diversity of its people is reflected in the
multi-cultural accents of its cuisine, most heavily influenced by India, Spain, the Middle East,
China, Portugal and Europe.
The famed "Spice Islands" are located here, with spice and heat two primary characteristics of Indonesian specialties. In fact the heat of Indonesian food is legendary, often too fiery for Westerners to handle.
Rice is a staple in Indonesian cooking, along with seafood, noodles, tempeh (toasted soy cakes), vegetables and an endless array of sauces that incorporate numerous spices and ingredients like coconut milk. Satay, skewers of tender beef or chicken grilled and served with customary peanut sauce; Lamb or Beef Rendang, meat slowly cooked in coconut milk with assorted spices such as lemon grass ,ginger and chilies until tender and flavorful; Curries garnished with the very hot chili relishes known as Sambals; and fresh from the ocean seafood such as prawns are among Indonesia's best-loved dishes.
The largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia favors lamb and goat very heavily on its menu, although pork is forbidden. The Indonesian meal, traditionally eaten at mid-day, is a feast for the nose as well as the tongue.