Padang cuisine

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An array of nasi kapau dishes, Minangkabau Bukittinggi cuisine.

Padang food or Minang food is the cuisine of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is among the most popular food in Maritime Southeast Asia. It is known across Indonesia as Masakan Padang (Padang cuisine, in English usually the simpler Padang food) after the city of Padang the capital city of West Sumatra province.[1] It is served in restaurants mostly owned by perantauan (migrating) Minangkabau people in Indonesian cities. Padang food is ubiquitous in Indonesian cities and is popular in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

Padang food is famous for its use of coconut milk and spicy chili.[2] Minang cuisine consists of three main elements: gulai (curry), lado (chili pepper) and bareh (rice).[3] 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 spice mixtures.

Because most Minangkabau people are Muslims, Minangkabau cuisine follows halal dietary law rigorously. Most of its protein is taken from beef, water buffalo, goat, lamb meat, and poultry and fish. Minangkabau people are known for their fondness of cattle meat products including offal. Almost all the parts of a cattle are used in Minangkabau dishes. Seafood is popular in coastal West Sumatran cities, and most are grilled or fried with spicy chili sauce or in curry gravy. Fish, shrimp, and cuttlefish are cooked in similar fashion. Most of Minangkabau food is eaten with hot steamed rice or compressed rice such as katupek (ketupat). Vegetables are mostly boiled such as boiled cassava leaf, or simmered in thin curry as side dishes, such as gulai of young jackfruit or cabbages.


In popular usage prevalent in Indonesia and neighboring countries, the term "Padang food" is often used generally to refer to the culinary traditions of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra. However, this term is seldom used in Minangkabau inland cities itself, such as Bukittinggi, a culinary hotspot in West Sumatra, where they refer to it as Masakan Minang or "Minang food" instead. This is partly because many Minangkabau nagari (counties) take pride in their culinary legacies, and because there are differences between Nasi Padang of Padang and Nasi kapau of Bukittinggi.

Padang restaurants[edit]

The hidang style Padang food served at Sederhana restaurant; all of the bowls of food are laid out in front of customer. The customer only pays for whatever bowl they eat from.

In Padang food establishments, it is common to eat with one's hands. They usually provide kobokan, a bowl of tap water with a slice of lime in it to give a fresh scent. This water is used to wash one's hands before and after eating. If a customer does not wish to eat with bare hands, it is acceptable to ask for a spoon and fork.

The food is usually cooked once per day. When eating Nasi Padang in restaurants, customers choose from various dishes which are left on display in high-stacked plates in the windows. In a dine-in hidang style Padang restaurant, after the customers are seated, they do not have to order. Rather, the waiter sets the table with dozens of small dishes filled with various dishes. Customers take only what they want from this array, and they pay only for what they take.[4] The best known Padang dish is rendang,[citation needed] a spicy meat stew. Soto Padang (crispy beef in spicy soup) is commonly eaten for breakfast, while sate (beef satay in curry sauce served with ketupat) is served in the evening.[citation needed]

The serving style is different in Nasi kapau food stalls, a Minangkabau Bukittinggi style. After the customer is seated, he or she orders specific dishes, which will be put directly upon the steamed rice or in separate small plates.

Some of Padang cuisine served in a beach stall in Gandoriah Beach, Pariaman. Dishes in coastal areas of West Sumatra is heavily influenced by sea productions, such as fishes and prawns.

There are many Padang food establishments throughout Indonesia and surrounding countries, according to Ikatan Warung Padang Indonesia (Iwapin) or Warung Padang Bonds. In greater Jakarta alone there are at least 20,000 Padang restaurant establishments.[5] Several notable Minangkabau restaurant chains are Sederhana, Garuda, Pagi Sore, Simpang Raya, Sari Ratu, Sari Minang, Salero Bagindo and Natrabu.


An array of Padang dishes arranged in a restaurant window.

The cooking method of gulai, which employing certain ingredients; meat, poultry, vegetables, fish or seafood simmered and slowly cooked in coconut milk, spice mixture and chili pepper, formed the backbone of Minangkabau cooking tradition. The thick golden, yellowish, succulent and spicy gulai sauce has become the hallmark of Padang restaurant's window display everywhere. In Padang, smart cooking means the capability of preparing gulai. Randang (beef simmered in coconut milk and spices), asam padeh (sour and spicy stew) and kalio (watery and light-colored gravy) are just a few variations of Padang gulai.[3]

  • Rendang, chunks of beef stewed in spicy coconut milk and chili gravy, cooked well until dried. Other than beef, rendang ayam (chicken rendang), rendang itiak (duck rendang), rendang lokan (mussel rendang), and number of other varieties can be found
  • Daun ubi tumbuk, cassava leaves in coconut milk
  • Sate Padang, Padang style satay, skewered barbecued meat with thick yellow sauce
  • Soto Padang, a soup of beef
  • Balado, chili paste similar to sambal with large sliced chili pepper, usually stir fried together with main ingredients
  • Sambal Lado Tanak
  • Kalio, similar to rendang; while rendang is rather dry, kalio is watery and light-colored
  • Gulai Ayam, chicken gulai
  • Gulai Cancang, gulai of meats and cow internal organs
  • Gulai Tunjang, gulai of cow foot tendons
  • Gulai Babek, Gulai Babat or Gulai Paruik Kabau, gulai of cow tripes
  • Gulai Iso or Gulai Usus, gulai of cow intestines usually filled with eggs and tofu
  • Gulai Limpo, gulai of cow spleen
  • Gulai Ati, gulai of cow liver
  • Gulai banak, gulai of cow brain
  • Gulai Sumsum, gulai of cow bone marrow
  • Gulai Gajeboh, cow fat gulai
  • Gulai Itik, duck gulai
  • Gulai Talua, boiled eggs gulai
  • Gulai Kepala Ikan Kakap Merah, red snapper's head gulai
  • Gulai Jariang, jengkol stinky bean gulai
  • Dendeng Batokok, thin crispy beef
  • Dendeng Balado, thin crispy beef with chilli
  • Palai, Minang variants of pepes
  • Paru Goreng, fried cow lung
  • Asam Padeh
  • Ayam bakar, grilled spicy chicken
  • Ayam goreng, fried chicken with spicy granules
  • Ayam Pop, Padang style chicken, boiled/steamed and later fried. While fried chicken is golden brown, ayam pop is light-colored
  • Ikan Bilih, fried small freshwater fish of the genus Mystacoleucus
  • Baluik goreng, crispy fried small freshwater eel
  • Udang Balado, shrimp in chili
  • Rajungan goreng, crispy fried crab
  • Terong Balado, eggplant in chili
  • Petai Goreng, fried green stinky bean (Parkia speciosa)
  • Peyek udang, shrimp rempeyek
  • Kerupuk Jangek, cow's skin krupuk

Snacks and drinks[edit]

A plate of Minangese snacks, usually served in weddings or family gatherings.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Indonesian film Tabula Rasa (2014), describes a Minang family which run a Rumah Makan Padang (Padang food restaurant) that hiring an aspired Papuan football player that struggles in Jakarta as their cook.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Unique of Padang". Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  2. ^ "Marco's Bofet: Authentic Padang food". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 2010-09-14. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  3. ^ a b Donny Syofyan (24 November 2013). "By the way ... I just can't live without Padang food". The Jakarta Post.
  4. ^ "A Unique of Padang". Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  5. ^ Harian Kompas, 25 May 2003 Archived 15 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Tabula Rasa - Official Site". LifeLike Pictures.
  7. ^ "Tabula Rasa (2014)". Youtube.