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Arab, Persian, and Indian traders left influences in Acehnese food although flavours have evolved from their original forms. Spices in Acehnese cuisine are commonly found in Indian and Arab cuisine, including ginger, pepper, coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel. A variety of Acehnese food is cooked with curry and/or coconut milk, which is generally combined with buffalo, beef, mutton and chicken meat as well as fish.

The following are popular dishes in Aceh, well worth trying:

Sie Kameng

Famously known as Gulai Kambing (in Bahasa) or mutton curry, Sie Kameng has a very distinctive flavour and pungency. Compared to other curry dishes in Asia, the bright-coloured sauce in this top-rated Acehnese specialty well-accentuates the texture of the lamb (or mutton). Additionally, the unique cooking process of using a cauldron over a big fire and the seasonings such as star anise and temurui leaf contribute to make the dish so spectacular.

Mie Aceh

The thick yellow noodles are served with slices of beef, goat meat or seafood, such as shrimp or crab. They are served in rich, hot and spicy curry-like soup. The bumbu spice mixture consist of black pepper, red chili pepper, shallot, garlic, cardamom, caraway, cumin and star anise. The noodle and spices are cooked with bean sprouts, tomato, cabbage and celery. Mie Aceh usually uses thick yellow noodles, similar to the Japanese udon noodle. To ensure its authenticity, most of Mie Aceh noodles are home made.

Sate Matang

Aceh also has its own version of the kebab or grilled meat on skewers. In some parts of Asia, it is referred to as satay, but in Aceh, the locals call it Sate Matang. Diced goat meat is marinated with a lot of spices such as coriander, candle nut, and lemon grass. It’s then grilled over burning charcoal. To fully enjoy the dish, dip the sate in a sweet sauce made of peanut, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, coconut milk, soy sauce and dried chili.

Ayam Tangkap

You can’t visit Aceh and not have Ayam Tangkap, it is a dish you must try at least once. The fried chicken is cooked with turmeric, shallots, ginger, garlic and tamarind water, then deep- fried until crispy. It is presented with aromatic, fried greens such as curry and pandan leaves.

Asam Keueng

If you’re craving for the exotic combination of spiciness and sourness, Asam Keueng will satisfy your taste buds. The sea fish is sauteed with shallots and garlic, then water is added along with fresh green tomatoes, lime, belimbing wuluh (a starfruit-like spice with high acidity) and ground spices comprising of turmeric, chilies and kaffir lime leaves.

Martabak Aceh

Indonesian martabak is a type of street food – a pancake with a floury skin and egg filling. However, Martabak Aceh puts a spin on that – you will first taste the egg before getting to the crunchy pastry. The egg mixture consists of onion, prawn, chicken, egg, celery and spring onion. Before taking a bite, you should add some green chili and shallot pickles.