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Indonesia is a vast and diverse country with a rich culinary tradition. Indonesian cuisine is a tapestry of vibrant ingredients, from fiery chilies to fragrant spices like coriander and lemongrass. Exotic fruits such as jackfruit and durian, paired with an abundant use of fresh seafood, define the country’s bold and tantalizing flavor profile. Journey through the tangy delights of Sumatra’s fiery Rendang, the layered flavors of Java’s Gado-Gado, and the exquisite seafood delicacies of Bali. If you’re looking to explore the world of Indonesian food or grow your expertise, here are the very best cookbooks to get you started.
- The Indonesian cookbooks with the best balance for newcomers and those familiar with cooking and the nation’s cuisine include Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food by Sri Owen, Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from My Indonesian Kitchen by Lara Lee, and Easy Indonesian Cookbook (The Effortless Chef Series) by Chef Maggie Chow.
- Experienced cooks will find the most value from The Food of Indonesia by Heinz von Holzen and Lother Arsana, Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia by James Oseland, and Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals and More by Dina Yuen.
- For the greatest selection of recipes to pick from, look toward The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott, Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford, and Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food by Sri Owen.
Top 10 Best Indonesian Cookbooks
- Key Takeaways
- Top 10 Best Indonesian Cookbooks
- Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food by Sri Owen
- Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from My Indonesian Kitchen by Lara Lee
- Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals and More: Homestyle Recipes with the True Taste of Indonesia by Dina Yuen
- Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford
- The Food of Indonesia: Delicious Recipes from Bali, Java, and the Spice Islands by Heinz Von Holzen
- Easy Indonesian Cookbook (The Effortless Chef Series) by Chef Maggie Chow
- Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals and More: Homestyle Recipes with the True Taste of Indonesia by Dina Yuen
- Paon: Real Balinese Cooking Hardcover by Tjok Maya Kerthyasa & I Wayan Kresna Yasa
- Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine & Food Culture of Bali by Vivienne Kruger
- Periplus Mini Indonesian Cooking Series by William W. Wongso
- Best Print-Only Indonesian Cookbooks
- Frequently Asked Questions – Best Indonesian Cookbooks
Indonesia, an archipelago with thousands of islands, offers a treasure trove of diverse culinary traditions waiting to be explored. Here are the top ten best Indonesian cookbooks that beautifully capture this culinary diversity and bring the authentic flavors of this vibrant country into your home kitchen.
Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food is an exquisite compilation of Indonesian recipes. In this meticulous work, readers find more than just a collection of recipes. It serves as an immersive cultural experience, providing a deep dive into the history and intricacies of Indonesian cuisine. It’s this context that sets the guide apart. By understanding the cultural significance and origins of the dishes, readers can appreciate the food on a deeper level. The recipes presented range from simple home cooking to elaborate festive meals, covering the vast spectrum of Indonesian cuisine. The dishes span the entire archipelago, from Sumatra to Papua, highlighting regional specialties and local variations.
All instructions are clear and concise, with attention given to ingredients, cooking techniques, and serving suggestions. Every recipe details the dish’s background, providing a richer understanding of the food. The inclusion of a glossary of ingredients and a guide to Indonesian spices adds to the book’s comprehensiveness. However, more photographs of the dishes would have made this already excellent book even better. Other than this minor caveat, Indonesian Food is pure gold.
About The Author: Born and raised in Indonesia, Sri Owen developed an early fascination for the flavors, aromas, and diverse ingredients that make Indonesian food so unique. As a prolific author and authority in the field, Sri Owen’s contributions to Indonesian cuisine have garnered widespread recognition.
If there’s one cookbook that both transports the reader to Indonesia and instills a sound understanding of cooking Southeast Asian food, it’s Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from My Indonesian Kitchen. Encased in the dynamic pages, readers stumble upon a treasure trove of Indonesian culinary traditions, immersively narrated and guided. Seamlessly fusing storytelling and cooking, this intriguing culinary guide provides insights that stretch far beyond mere recipes.
Coconut & Samba digs deep into the heart of Indonesian cuisine, making it a brilliant reference for anyone curious about Southeast Asian food culture. It’s easily one of the easiest books to follow, with recipes that you can’t go wrong with. Each recipe is meticulously curated to facilitate an immersive experience in the kitchen. Regional diversity is what makes this cookbook shine. Many of the dishes will be too involved for beginners, but if the guidance is followed, perfection is to be expected.
About The Author: Born to an Indonesian father and an Australian mother, Lara Lee has always been straddled between two cultures. Lee spent her early years in Sydney before following her passion for food led her to London, where she trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine.
Indonesian cuisine, as intricate as it is diverse, finds an articulate and passionate advocate in Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals, and More. This comprehensive cookbook serves as a conduit, enabling readers to experience the full spectrum of authentic Indonesian flavors within their home kitchens. It launches into a hearty introduction, grounding readers in the historical and cultural context of Indonesian cuisine. The author takes care to delve into the influences of Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and European cuisines on Indonesian food culture.
The recipes in the book are well-organized, starting with delightful appetizers, progressing through main courses, and culminating with sweet indulgences. Expect detailed, step-by-step instructions that make even the most complex recipes feel accessible. All of the intricacies of Indonesian cuisine are well covered. With photographs, Indonesian ingredients and substitutions covered, and superb historical and cultural context given, Indonesian Cooking is a true gem and an asset to any kitchen.
About The Author: Dina Yuen, also known as Asian Fusion Girl, is a celebrated author, chef, and ambassador of Indonesian cuisine. Born and raised in Indonesia, Yuen’s love for food started early, learning the art of traditional Indonesian cooking from her grandmother.
Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia stands as a beautifully composed tribute to the vast and varied Indonesian culinary landscape. Personal anecdotes, historical context, and local lore are magically intertwined with an array of mouthwatering recipes, creating a narrative that is as immersive as it is informative. The author’s culinary expedition across the Indonesian archipelago shines a spotlight on the regional nuances and local specialties that define the country’s food culture. The recipe section covers a wide range of dishes, from street food staples to elaborate feast dishes, each introduced with a story that situates it in its cultural context.
Few cookbooks celebrate Indonesia’s unique biodiversity as well as Fire Islands, with each recipe showcasing the country’s abundant produce, fresh seafood, and an array of aromatic spices. Ford’s descriptions are a sensory feast, painting a vivid picture of the dishes and the vibrant locales they originate from. With a comprehensive guide to traditional ingredients accompanied by substitution suggestions, detailed explanations of preparation and cooking techniques, and striking photographs that capture the essence of Indonesia, this cookbook is one of the most striking guides to Indonesian cuisine in print.
About The Author: Eleanor Ford is a food writer and recipe developer with an impressive background in the culinary world who spent most of her life living in Indonesia.
The Food of Indonesia: Delicious Recipes from Bali, Java, and the Spice Islands is a beautifully illustrated Indonesian cookbook. Readers can look forward to easy-to-follow recipes with detailed descriptions of ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. This exceptional compilation showcases a delightful array of dishes hailing from different regions of Indonesia.
It features fiery Padang specialties originating from West Sumatra, nourishing Javanese vegetable concoctions, tantalizing satay and poultry preparations inspired by Bali and Lombok, as well as intriguing recipes from Kalimantan, Flores, and Timor, the eastern isles. Readers are immersed in Indonesia’s diverse cultural heritage and the rich tapestry of its culinary traditions. The authenticity alone of The Food of Indonesia makes it a wonderful read and guidebook to the nation’s food and history.
About The Author: Heinz Von Holzen, a Swiss native, is a renowned chef and cookbook author specializing in Indonesian cuisine. His culinary journey started in his homeland of Switzerland, where he trained and worked in some of the country’s finest establishments. His passion for culinary arts and a sense of adventure led him to Bali in 1990, where he fell in love with the rich tapestry of flavors that define Indonesian cuisine and soon became the Executive Chef at the Grand Hyatt Bali.
Flavors of Indonesia are unveiled in an uncomplicated manner in the pages of Easy Indonesian Cookbook (The Effortless Chef Series). There are only twenty recipes, but each comes out amazing and can be perfected by even the busiest or most inexperienced chefs. From traditional dishes to street food favorites, there’s a decent array of options to choose from. Notably, each recipe is paired with easy-to-follow instructions and an ingredients list that doesn’t overwhelm, making it accessible for those not familiar with Indonesian ingredients. One of the best parts of Flavors of Indonesia is how it gently eases readers into the world of Indonesian spices, herbs, and flavors.
There’s an informative introductory section that doubles as a crash course in Indonesian cuisine. It doesn’t shy away from bringing the bold, complex flavors of Indonesia to your kitchen, yet it simplifies the process to make it far less intimidating. The inspiring selection of recipes is not just limited to main dishes. Side dishes, desserts, and even drinks are given ample attention, allowing readers to create a complete Indonesian dining experience with just a handful of recipes.
About The Author: Chef Maggie Chow is a culinary artist on a mission to demystify Indonesian cuisine. As the author of The Effortless Chef series and dedicated vegetarian, Chow has a knack for breathing all new life into classic meals.
Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals, and More is a true showcase of Indonesia’s diverse culinary traditions. A striking blend of personal anecdotes, historical context, and enticing recipes makes this compilation more than a cookbook. It’s an epic tale of a rich and colorful culinary heritage. The volume presents a plethora of recipes, each inviting readers to create authentic Indonesian dishes at home. From the succulent skewered meats of satay to the fiery chili-based condiments of sambal, the collection is nothing short of a gastronomic tour of Indonesia.
The entire cookbook pays homage to the country’s regional diversity, with each recipe shedding light on its origins and cultural significance. Yet, it’s the clarity of instruction that stands out. You’ll find that novice cooks can confidently navigate their way through the preparation of complex dishes. Readers can look forward to extreme attention to detail, precise measurements, and crystal-clear guidance throughout. Every last aspect of Indonesian cooking is geared towards making local cuisine approachable. Even the vivid storytelling accompanying each recipe is a step above the rest.
About The Author: Dina Yuen, a well-known food writer, and blogger, has made a name for herself in the culinary world. Born and raised in Indonesia, the serial entrepreneur Yuen is firmly established as an authority on Indonesian cuisine through the publication of her cookbook.
Paon: Real Balinese Cooking is more than a cookbook – it’s an invitation to discover and appreciate the intricate tapestry of Bali’s cuisine and culture. It’s an invaluable resource for both seasoned cooks and novice enthusiasts, a testament to the author’s passion for sharing the beauty of Balinese cuisine with the world. This unique compilation paints a vivid picture of the island’s diverse cuisine, from the bustling markets of Denpasar to the tranquil kitchens of Ubud. The guide is filled to the brim with recipes showcasing Bali’s signature dishes, but be warned, some are so complex that only the most seasoned chefs and foodies will want to attempt them.
Whether it’s a simple sambal or a complex babi guling, the authors’ meticulous attention to detail ensures that each dish is recreated authentically. Paon: Real Balinese Cooking is filled to the brim with recipes showcasing Bali’s signature dishes. What truly sets this work apart is the authors’ dedication to capturing the essence of Balinese culture. Through vivid descriptions, stunning photography, and insightful anecdotes, a comprehensive view of Balinese life beyond the kitchen is offered.
About The Authors: Tjok Maya Kerthyasa and I Wayan Kresna Yasa, both natives of Bali, have dedicated their lives to promoting Balinese cuisine. Their shared passion for food and culture led to the creation of one of the world’s most comprehensive guides to Bali’s culinary scene.
Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine & Food Culture of Bali is a masterwork that exhibits a profound understanding of Balinese cuisine and the cultural, historical, and environmental influences that affect it. Readers are taken through the evolution of Bali’s food and brought to an understanding of how and why tourism, global food trends, and traditions have fused in the way that they’re famously known today. It is one of the most in-depth looks at Balinese food culture and the Hindu religion in circulation.
Despite carrying some of the best cultural coverage of the Balinese culinary arts, it is the interviews discussing forty of the island’s most famous and beloved meals that make Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine & Food Culture of Bali one-of-a-kind. Some of the dishes are so exotic that it’s unlikely that many chefs outside of Indonesia will be trying them at all. After all, delicacies like fried dragonflies aren’t for everyone. However, the level of authenticity is beyond almost anything else out there, making this book a keen consideration for locals, expats, and anyone interested in Indonesian food and culture.
About The Author: Vivienne Kruger, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist based in New York City. With a career spanning over 30 years, she’s known for her ethnographic research and writings on Balinese culture and cuisine. Kruger lived in Bali for an extended period, experiencing the culture firsthand, lending authenticity to her work.
Periplus Mini Indonesian Cooking Series by William W. Wongso
The Periplus Mini Indonesian Cooking Series presents concise cookbooks, each featuring roughly 30 to 40 recipes. As a series that specializes in regional cuisine, there are four books covering Indonesian food that are all worthy of consideration. Mini Homestyle Indonesian Cooking is a great starting point for those new to the cuisine. Mini Malaysian Favourites does cover Indonesia exclusively, but the range of classic dishes is great. Mini Spicy Padang Cooking is filled with West Sumatran classics, and Indonesian Cakes & Desserts is a must for bakers and anyone with a sweet tooth. The quality of publishing is top-class, and the recipes have all been modernized, which means there’s no struggle to hunt down exotic ingredients. Overall, it’s a value-packed series that all should give a look.
Best Print-Only Indonesian Cookbooks
Are you in search of tactile, print-only treasures that hold the secrets of Indonesian cuisine? Our list of the best print-only Indonesian cookbooks will guide you to culinary masterpieces that resonate with authenticity.
The Indonesian Kitchen is a cookbook that masterfully captures the essence of Indonesian cooking, transporting readers to the bustling markets, smoky street stalls, and tranquil beaches of Indonesia through the power of cuisine. Readers are taken on a fascinating journey, examining the impact of Dutch colonization, Indian spice trades, and Chinese immigration on the development of Indonesian cooking before being presented with a wonderfully broad selection of recipes.
From iconic classics well-known throughout Indonesia to lesser-known regional specialties, The Indonesian Kitchen has it all. Each recipe is clearly written and accompanied by detailed instructions that are easy to follow for beginners and experienced chefs alike. The degree of authenticity is fantastic, which means recipes that remain true to their roots will require specialized ingredients, but the author thankfully suggests thoughtful alternatives too. Both the food photography and illustrations bring the recipes to life while giving newcomers an idea of what they’re aiming for.
About The Author: Sri Owen is a renowned food writer and expert in Indonesian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Born and raised in Padang, West Sumatra, Owen moved to London in the 1960s and has since published numerous critically acclaimed cookbooks.
The Indonesian Table brilliantly encapsulates the depth and diversity of Indonesian cuisine. It introduces readers to a vast array of dishes, reflecting the country’s multicultural influences and rich historical tapestry. From the spicy, tangy flavors of Sumatra to the intricate, aromatic delights of Bali, it is all there. There’s no shying away from the exotic and complex, instead celebrating dishes that utilize ingredients like fermented fish paste, lemongrass, coconut, and fiery chilies.
The accompanying food photography in The Indonesian Table is stunning and evocative, with each image serving as an invitation to explore and appreciate the flavors, colors, and textures of Indonesian cooking. Readers can expect recipes incorporating flavors from all across the Spice Islands, with storytelling that’ll keep you gripped to each page and exemplary results that’ll motivate you to try out more of its fantastic food.
About The Author: Petty Pandean-Elliott is a proud representative of Indonesian culinary tradition. Born and raised in Manado, North Sulawesi, her rich cultural background has been integral to her culinary pursuits. She left Indonesia to study in Switzerland and later moved to the United States, where she cultivated her passion for her homeland’s cuisine.
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia by James Oseland
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia is, without a doubt, one of the world’s best cookbooks on cuisine from the Southeast Asian Islands. It’s got everything a cook could hope for. From Asian market shopping tips to how to select and combine the best spices, there’s no part of Indonesian food and its preparation that it does not cover. The author even infuses personal notes throughout from the two decades he spent in Indonesia. Foodies and those driven for authentic Indonesian cuisine should look no further. It’s often a hard book to come about fetching a steep price, but every word is a treasure found by those who appreciate fine food.
Many of the recipes in Cradle of Flavor are regional favorites in Indonesia but are seldom found detailed outside of the region. Every classic featured has been elevated significantly, making the recipes among the best of their type out there. Indo-Malay food doesn’t get better, and the overall structuring, storytelling, and flow make it a wonderful read as well.
About The Author: James Oseland is an American writer, editor, and television personality. He is the author and editor-in-chief of World Food, an acclaimed book series from Ten Speed Press. He served as editor-in-chief of the U.S. food magazine Saveur from 2006 to 2014 and has had his memoir acclaimed as one of the best books of its time by New York Times, Time Asia, and Good Morning America.
With photos for each dish that makes you crave the food before you’ve ever tried it, The Tropical Kitchen: Healthy Vegan Recipes From The Indonesian Islands is a brilliant cookbook. Its recipes are true treasures regardless of whether you live plant-based only or are an omnivore. Each vegan recreation of classic Indonesian dishes oozes flavor while remaining faithful to traditional tastes, textures, and most ingredients. The quality of publishing equals the caliber of the food produced when following the straightforward instructions and visual guidance.
Whether you’re on the hunt for Indonesian vegan food or simply a whole new range of plant-based cuisine, The Tropical Kitchen is the perfect cookbook that’s sure to open up endless new meal options. From the practical guide that helps readers understand unfamiliar ingredients to the standout Indonesian flavors that retain the textures and characteristics of the original dishes, this cookbook is simply the best.
About The Author: Melania Edwards is a dedicated food blogger and a passionate advocate of veganism who brings a wealth of knowledge about Indonesian cuisine and vegan cooking to her writing.
Frequently Asked Questions – Best Indonesian Cookbooks
Do you have lingering curiosities about the best Indonesian cookbooks or the intricacies of the country’s rich and diverse cuisine? We may have the answers you’re looking for waiting here. Those looking for a good Indonesian grocery store should check out our wrap-up of the best Asian e-grocers online.
Indonesia, an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, has a culinary heritage that is a vibrant tapestry intricately woven with both indigenous and foreign influences. When one ponders about the strongest external influence on Indonesian cuisine, the vibrant spice trails lead primarily to India and China, as well as to the Middle East, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands. Each of these cultures has left an indelible mark on Indonesian food, contributing to its eclectic mix of flavors and techniques.
Dive deeper into the heart of traditional Indonesian cuisine, and you’ll encounter a symphony of tastes and aromas, a complex blend of local spices, aromatic herbs, and fresh produce. The cuisine is characterized by the careful balance of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami flavors, achieved through the use of ingredients like palm sugar, tamarind, turmeric, galangal, and the notorious ‘king of spices’ – the Indonesian chili. For professional chefs, the mastery of Indonesian cuisine requires a deep understanding and appreciation of these flavors, as well as the unique cooking techniques employed, such as grilling, boiling, and the traditional method of slow cooking in a clay pot.
Nasi Goreng, Indonesian fried rice, enjoys fame worldwide, while Satay skewered meats with peanut sauce embody Indonesia’s street food culture. Rendang, a slow-cooked beef dish, reveals Indonesia’s complex spice palette. Soto Ayam, a vibrant chicken soup with turmeric, and Gado Gado, a salad smothered in peanut sauce, offer lighter options. Bakso meatball soup provides comfort, and Martabak pancakes which are sweet or savory delights. Pisang Goreng treats snackers to fried bananas, Ayam Goreng serves up spiced fried chicken, and Babi Guling, a spit-roasted pig from Bali, marks special occasions.
Ask any Indonesian about the most popular dish, and the answer will likely be ‘Nasi Goreng’ – Indonesian Fried Rice. This dish encapsulates the essence of the nation’s cuisine: simplicity meets flavor. Nasi Goreng is typically stir-fried with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shallots, garlic, tamarind, chili and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Yet, it also serves as a canvas for creativity, welcoming a multitude of variations with different proteins and vegetables. Mastering Nasi Goreng provides a solid foundation for exploring the broader landscape of Indonesian cuisine.