Most Javanese food can attribute its relative simplicity to the fact that it's an indigenous cuisine that has remained largely unaffected by outside forces, save for a bit of Chinese influence in certain dishes. Martabak, a roti-like stuffed fried flatbread, is a notable exception. Even on Java, folks I talked to said "this isn't Javanese food, it's Indian." Others trace its origins to the Middle East. Either way, it's one of the best street foods around.
'Indonesia' on Serious Eats
Thank heavens the Earth ain't flat, because the New World is an incredibly significant coffee-producing region—thanks in large part to the plants being shuffled around by European colonial powers gaining ground hither, thither, and yon. We're about to follow the Dutch and, subsequently, the French around the world on this caffeinated history trip.
In Indonesia, everybody has a bottle of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) in their pantry. We use it to make fried rice, stir fries, "sambals," to dip fried tofus and rice crackers—basically a staple condiment in the table to accompany meals. I can say that most Indonesians would agree that a plate of warm rice with fried eggs and sweet soy sauce drizzled on top is the ultimate comfort food, especially when there's no time to grocery shop or you're away from home.
Photograph by David Hagerman of Eating Asia If you find yourself in Jakarta, this looks like the man you'd want to buy your satay (or "sate" in Indonesian) from. Between his happy face and confident stance holding that wad of stick meat, I would trust anything he cooks. Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia was lucky enough to try his food after waiting in a long line. (Smiling Satay Man seems to have a following.)...