A taste bud adventure in Indonesia can extend beyond what’s cooking in the wok or banana leaf. Traditional drinks are a plenty and you can sample a taste of the archipelago in a cup.
If you happen to be in the right area, someone with these beverages on offer might be just around the corner. Otherwise, they are available from restaurants serving local cuisine.
Described as a “ginger infused warm dessert” by Kafe Betawi in Senayan City, this traditional drink is best sipped while it is steaming hot.
Sago flour pearls, bread, boiled mung bean, fried peanut, and kolang-kaling (fruit of the sugar palm) add interesting texture to this concoction.
You can differentiate between sekoteng and another famous local ginger drink called wedang jahe by the usage of condensed milk in the former.
Price: Rp 20,000 in Kafe Betawi
This Sundanese drink is the one to go for when you want to warm up your body the non-alcoholic way and, unlike some alcoholic drinks, it is an option that definitely will not break the bank.
Bandrek is made from ginger, cinnamon and palm sugar. It can be served plain or with milk or coconut, like the ones served in Aroma Pondok Sunda Restaurant in Senayan City.
Price: Rp 10,000 (US$1.03) for plain; Rp 12,000 with milk or coconut in Pondok Sunda
Made from a mixture of coconut milk, condensed milk, ginger, palm sugar and kolang-kaling (sugar palm fruit), this Sundanese beverage is excellent for the chilly weather.
The sellers can be found pushing their carts around neighborhoods at night or after the rain. Aside from selling the beverage, the cart usually provides traditional snacks such as boiled bananas, sweet potatoes and peanuts.
For those not lucky enough to catch it the traditional way, try Waroeng Kopi in Grand Indonesia’s Alun Alun Indonesia.
Price: Rp 18,500 in Waroeng Kopi
This warm ginger beverage is made colorful through the usage of sweet and savory glutinous rice balls filled with tapioca and peanuts.
Warjok Asli in Senayan City makes the tapioca balls in two colors: red and green, and for those looking to figure out the difference between them, we will spare you the effort – there is none.
Price: Rp 20,000 in Warjok Asli
This cold, sweet drink is good to have when you are feeling peckish on a hot day.
Es cendol’s main ingredient is rice flour, to which a natural green color from pandan or suji leaves is added to create its unique forms. It is then mixed with palm sugar, coconut milk and ice.
This beverage can easily be found in Indonesian restaurants, such as Warjok Asli in Senayan City.
Price: Rp 22,000 in Warjok Asli
This signature drink from Jakarta is not an alcohol drink though the name (bir is Indonesian for beer) suggests so.
Bir Pletok is made from a hodgepodge of ingredients - red ginger, lemongrass, black pepper, secang wood and cinnamon, to name a few.
Usually, Betawi families, considered to be Jakarta's original residents, make this beverage. But you can also buy it in several restaurants such as Kemiri in Pejaten Village, where it can be served hot or cold, according to your pleasure.
Price: Rp 15,000 in Kemiri