Padang in West Sumatra is a great place to spend a few days during your expedition of the island. However, Padang is perhaps best known for its glorious food known as “Masakan Padang”, and this region influenced the culinary style of not just Indonesia, but also surrounding countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.
Masakan Padang, also known as Minangkabau Cuisine, is famous for its rich taste of succulent coconut milk and spicy chili. Among the cooking traditions in Indonesian cuisine, Minangkabau cuisine and most of Sumatran cuisine, demonstrate Indian and Middle Eastern influences, with dishes cooked in curry sauce with coconut milk and the heavy use of spices mixture. Because most Minangkabau people are Muslims, Minangkabau cuisine follows halal dietary law rigorously. Protein intake are mostly taken from beef, water buffalo, goat, lamb meat, poultry, and fish.
In Padang, it is common to eat with your hands. In restaurants and roadside cafes, they usually provide a kobokan, which is a bowl of tap water with a slice of lime in it to give a fresh scent. This water is used to wash your hands before and after eating. If you don’t to eat with your bare hands, it is acceptable to ask for a spoon and fork.
The cuisine is usually cooked once per day. To have Nasi Padang in restaurants customers choose from those dishes, which are left on display in high-stacked plates in the windows. In a restaurant, the waiter immediately serves the dishes directly to the table, and the table will quickly be set with dozens of small dishes filled with highly flavoured foods such as beef rendang, curried fish, stewed greens, chili eggplant, curried beef liver, tripe, intestines, fried beef lung, fried chicken, and of course, sambal (the spicy sauces ubiquitous at Indonesian tables). Customers pay for only what they want from this selection. The best known Padang dish is rendang, a spicy meat stew. Soto Padang (crispy beef in spicy soup) is local residents’ breakfast favourite, meanwhile sate (beef satay in curry sauce served with ketupat) is a treat in the evening.
All over Padang, during my short visit there, I enjoyed some Masakan Padang dishes, although a lot of what I consumed was very hot and spicy. However, it was all very cheap, as is most food in Indonesia, and in particular I enjoyed the many warungs across Padang, as they serve up some of the finest cuisine in the region – all with a smiley face!