Consisting of over 17,000 islands, six official languages, and the most unique landscapes in the world, it’s no surprise that Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries out there. Located along the equator between Malaysia and Australia, Indonesia is a populous country with over 250 million inhabitants calling it their home. The country also has historic ties to other countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal, and India making it the culturally diverse place that it is today. With different religions and customs comes different cuisines, something that Indonesia is known for, with lots of the local dishes being influenced by food from many different countries, such as India. From grilled beef snacks and cheese wafers to sweeter options like milk gummies and cola burger candies, we’ll be getting a taste of just how different and unique the food and snacks are in beautiful Indonesia.
Papatonk Black Pepper Cassava Crackers
Cassava Crackers with Black Pepper Seasoning
I’ve been subscribed to Universal Yums for a little over two years now after having started with this company back in August of 2017. The first ever box I received was the one for Columbia where I tried a ton of different snacks including cassava chips. These chips, which seemed like nothing at first, were actually one of my favorite things that I’ve received in these boxes so far. Needless to say, when I saw that our trip to Indonesia this month, included some cassava chips, I was more than excited. Often referred to as a tropical potato, cassava is a type of shrub that grows an underground vegetable known fittingly enough as cassava. Since, much like it’s potato counterpart, cassava is such a starchy food, it is the primary source of nutrients for over 800 million people living in Southeast Asia. This shrub can be eaten two ways, the first being simply eating it raw and as is and the second being to prepare it into a thin, crispy cracker. While quite bland and lacking in the flavoring department when eaten raw, the crackers on the other hand come in a multitude of different flavors including prawn, chili, and black pepper which is the variety that we’ll be taste testing. The crunch of the cassava cracker as well as the intense flavoring of the cracked black pepper, pair rather nicely to create the perfect crispy yet flavorful snack.
Rating – 4/5
Beng Beng White Wafer
White Chocolate and Coconut Coated Wafer with Cream Filling
While we’ve already concluded that Indonesia is a stunning country with it’s sandy beaches and sprawling rice fields, it should also be noted that the country is also one of the biggest producer of coconuts in the world. Seeing as the fruit is one of the most commonly found ingredients in the country, it comes as no surprise to know that lots of traditional Indonesian dishes incorporate coconuts in some shape or form, into the vast majority of their recipes. Ranging from beef curry with coconut milk to toasted coconut chicken dishes, coconut truly is the star of the show in Indonesia. To get our taste of this famous ingredient, we have the Beng Beng wafer bar, made using four layers of crispy wafer cookies that are then filled with three layers of cream, and topped off with a thick layer of white chocolate coating and sprinkled with coconut flakes, for a refreshing and delicious snack.
Rating – 5/5
Garlic Presto Corn
Corn Nuts with Garlic Seasoning
Made using 100% real corn kernels and dusted with a flavorful, garlic seasoning, these corn nuts are the perfect snack to grab while on the road, running out the door, or any other time really. Though this snack does come from Indonesia, the ingredients needed to create it, weren’t always available and actually had to be imported into the country. Up until the turn of the 16th century, Indonesia had never seen let alone tasted corn. All of this changed when Portuguese settlers brought it over with them when they made the voyage over from the New World. The same thing applies to garlic, the main ingredient found in the seasoning that coats these corn nuts, as it is normally native to China. This too was also brought over to Indonesia by ancient traders who brought it along 7,000 mile road known as Silk Road. While it wasn’t always this way and though it took lots of time and miles traveled to bring these food items to Indonesia, corn and garlic are now found in multiple different dishes and snacks including these flavorful corn nuts.
Rating – 3/5
Deka Choco Banana Wafer Roll
Vanilla Wafer Rolls with Chocolate and Banana Cream Filling
Bananas, the yummy yellow fruit that is a basic staple found in most grocery stores around the world. They’re pretty ordinary and for most, they’re nothing special but if you were living in Indonesia, you would most likely be thinking the opposite. While around here in North America we tend to one type of banana available for purchase, in Indonesia there are over 300 different varieties to choose from. Over the years there have many different types of bananas that have been created such as the ‘golden banana’, no bigger than your finger yet packing an extremely sweet flavor similar to honey as well as the ‘red milk banana’ which is a variety sporting a red peeling and a pink inside with a creamy, sweet flavor. Seeing as there are so many different types and the amount of love that Indonesians seem to have for this fruit, it comes as no surprise that there are multiple different snacks found throughout the country that are flavored with banana. One of those being these vanilla wafer rolls which are filled with a creamy chocolate filling mixed with a banana cream to create a snack worth going bananas over.
Rating – 4/5
Novelty Sour Gummies
If you’ve ever been to Indonesia or even if you’re from there, you will know that one of the most popular dishes and that can be found virtually everywhere, is ‘mie goreng’. This famous noodle dish consists of thin noodles that are pan-fried with some garlic, onions, and your choice of chicken or beef. Once cooked these noodles are then topped with a fried eggs and served to hungry customers. This dish is so loved throughout Indonesia it can be found literally everywhere, in many different varieties. From the country’s most high-end restaurants, to family owned cafes and microwave versions of the dish, you can find ‘mie goreng’ just about everywhere and anywhere. The love for these noodles even goes so far as to incorporate it into a candy version, which we have the honor of tasting this month. While it doesn’t bear the same garlicky, savory flavor the noodle dish is known for, this candy version looks exactly like the real thing just with a gummy texture and sour fruit flavor.
Rating – 5/5
Vanelo Pandan Layer Cake
Pandan Flavored Layer Cake with Cream Filling
Upon reading the name of this cake, you might be asking yourself what exactly pandan even is, much like everyone else who isn’t from Southeast Asia. Pandan is actually a category of different types of plants that have been native to the region for centuries now. This plant has many different purposes and uses, with ancient Indonesians often using the plant’s leaves to craft items such as ropes, roofs, baskets, and even sails for boats. Over the years, it was also discovered that the leaves of a certain plant within the pandan family, gave off a pleasant aroma which was then used to add an earthy yet light sweetness to different dishes like meats and rice. Fast forward a couple of decades and the ingredient is still as present as ever in Indonesian cuisine, including in this fluffy layer cake. This cake combines the pandan flavoring from Indonesia’s famous plant with a light cream and moist vanilla cake, to create the perfect, authentic treat.
Rating – 4/5
TicTac Snack Grilled Beef
Grilled Beef Flavored Tapioca Snack
Similar to the cassava crackers previously mentioned, tapioca is a starch that is also derived from the cassava plants and comes in the form of tiny, little balls called pearls. These tapioca pearls can be found in many different dishes including the ever popular bubble tea, a milky tea drink filled with tapioca pearls as well as tapioca pudding. They’re also the star ingredient found in this popular Indonesian snack. Often sprinkled onto soups, thrown into salads, or simply eaten by the handful, these beef flavored tapioca pearls are as versatile and unique as the country they come from.
Rating – 3/5
Deka Jumbo Cheese and Cheese Wafer Roll
Sweet Wafer Roll with Cheese Filling
As mentioned before, Indonesia is such a diverse and unique country largely due to the fact that it shares historic ties with many different countries such as the Netherlands. Due to this, the country has drawn inspiration from the countries that it was once affiliated with, and the proof of that is in these cheese wafers. Combining a sweet, crispy wafer and a creamy cheese filling, these wafers have certainly evolved over the years. Back in 1603, Dutch traders started arriving in Indonesia and establishing colonies there while they searched for natural resources in order to grow their spice trade. When they arrived in the country, they brought along one of the things they loved the most, which was cheese. Not long after the Dutch started setting up camp, Indonesians had gotten a taste of ‘kue keju’, a crunchy cookie made using the famous Dutch gouda and they were instantly hooked. Even though its been close to 100 years that Indonesia has declared independence from the Netherlands, their love for the cheesy cookies remains as strong as ever.
Rating – 1/5
Mayora Coffee Joy
Coffee Biscuit with Sugar Topping
If you’re anything like me, you know that your day simply cannot start without having your first cup of coffee. While Colombia is known as the birthplace of coffee, Indonesia or more specifically the island of Java, is also a huge producer of coffee, and has been for over 200 years now. These beans are cultivated during monsoon season and are then aged for three years which in turn is what makes them so unique as the result of this process is a much more mellow and less acidic flavoring of coffee, which Indonesians seem to love. This delicious coffee flavoring is also the inspiration behind these biscuits, which have a subtle enough flavor for even non-coffee drinkers, along with a light, crunch.
Rating – 5/5
Yupi Milly Moos
Milk Gummies in Assorted Fruit Flavors
At first glance, you might be thinking that these gummies look delicious, which they are, but you also might have noticed that not only does the packaging bear pictures of cows, the gummies themselves are also shaped like the animal. The reasoning for this is because of the fact that millions of people living in Indonesia actually practice Hinduism, a religion known for believing that cows are sacred animals. Cows are always shown the upmost respect and are never used for food, mainly because they are quite useful to farmers as they help maintain the crops. The appreciation and love for these animals even goes so far as here being festivals and statues dedicated entirely to the cows.
Rating – 4/5
Gulas Tamarind Candy
Tamarind Flavored Hard Candy
Grown for centuries and known for being one of the most versatile and useful plants, the tamarind is a tropical tree that can be found throughout Indonesia. This tree is quite handy and useful in the lives of those living in the country, as every single part of tree can be used for a different purpose. For example, the bark of the tamarind is used to make furniture such as chairs, the leaves are said to reduce joint pain which is especially helpful for the elders, glue can be made using the seeds of the tree, and even your kitchen utensils can benefit from the tamarind as the pulp is a great polishing agent. But of course since we’re here for the snacks, it should also be mentioned that tamarind can also be used in food, such as in these hard candies, to give an intense sour flavor.
Rating – 2/5
Parago 2-in-1 Melon Milk Chewy Candy
Melon and Milk Flavored Chew
While the thought of combining milk and fruit might sound a bit odd and out of the ordinary, this combination is actually insanely popular in Indonesia. From strawberries and bananas to melons, there are no fruits that are spared from being mixed from milk and being turned into a chewy candy. These candies are no exception and are flavored with a milky cream paired with a refreshing honeydew melon flavor, to create a perfectly balanced chew that allows the flavors to bring out the best in each other.
Rating – 4/5
Yupi Cola Burger
Cola Flavored Novelty Gummy Candy
Probably one of the strangest snacks from Indonesia thus far, are these cola flavored, burger shaped gummy candies. Yupi, the company behind these candies, have actually created an entire line of these novelty gummies, ranging from gummy hot dogs to candy pizzas. The reasoning behind this seemingly huge love for gummy candies in Indonesia, stems from the fact that country has access to tons of seaweed. Since the late 20th century, Indonesia has been creating gummies using a special chemical that can be found in seaweed, known as carrageenan. Since this chemical is such an active ingredient in these candies, it’s not surprising to know that the gummy market in Indonesia is booming.
Rating – 3/5
Another month of Universal Yums in the bag and onto the next, where we’ll be trying snacks and candies from another brand new country.
In the meantime, be sure to catch up on any previous posts you may have missed and don’t forget to check out the link below to save $5 on your first month of Universal Yums.