On the street-side, you'll often see village ladies squatting alongside a small brazier, grilling delicious satays or selling the popular vegetable dish, pelecing, wrapped in banana leaves for easy and environmentally-friendly take-away meals.
At night there's a huge variety of stalls, cart, warungs (local cafes) and restaurants serving delicious local meals. The food is usually extremely cheap, as well as being tasty and exotic. If you're an adventurous "foodie", here are just a few of the great taste sensations you can try in Lombok.
Ayam Taliwang is a very popular chicken dish served in local restaurants and warungs. The recipe actually originates from Sumbawa but has been eagerly adopted by Lombok's Sasaks. For the real thing, young ayam kampung (free range spring chicken) is used; as the chickens are said to have a better flavour and locals prefer this taste to farmed chicken.
A variety of spices are blended with chillies, tomato and garlic, and cooked to create a sambal, which is the used to liberally coat the chicken as it is slowly grilled over an open flame, turning the marinade into a delicious red coating. Eaten with steamed rice to soak up the sauce, its spicy and piquant flavour can become addictive.
Pepes Ikan is another favourite found in restaurants or at small stalls, where the parcels of fish are grilled over charcoal fires. Boneless fish is mixed with grated coconut and spices, including liberal amounts of turmeric and lemongrass, before being wrapped in banana leaves and baked. This retains the moisture of the fish and allows the flavours to blend beautifully.
Beberuk (or beberuq) is a typical Sasak side dish, made from finely diced snake beans and small, round eggplant, mixed with tomato, chilli, shallots, prawn paste and fresh kaffir lime, the raw, crunchy texture and tangy taste blends well with rice and adds extra zest to any meal. No local meal would be complete without kangkung, the locally grown water spinach for which Lombok is renowned throughout Indonesia. Domestic visitors can often be seen at the airport, carrying Lombok kangkung back home to share with families and friends. Pelecing kangkung refers to the fiery red pelecing sauce that accompanies the water spinach, which is boiled and served with fresh bean sprouts, grated coconut and fried peanuts on the side. Healthy and delicious, pelecing kangkung is a 'must try' for visitors who enjoy local food.
A less spicy snack is Tahu Goreng, or deep-fried tofu, made from soybeans. The velvety texture inside the tofu is enchanced by the crispy outside coating created when fried in hot oil. Deep fried Tahu is tasty with or without the accompanying sambal, or try Tahu isi, which is stuffed with a variety of different fillings, such as mixed vegetables or sometimes a prawn mixture.
Telur Pelalah is another reasonably mild-tasting dish. Eggs are hard boiled and then deep-fried to give the outside a crunchy delecious spicy sauce, they are a popular snack for Indonesia.
A variation on satay is the popular Sate Pusut, made from finely ground meat and coconut, mixed with tasty spices. The mixture is pressed on to flat sticks and grilled over a charcoal fire until brown. their own or dipped into spicy chilli sambal.
Sate Tanjung originates from the town of Tanjung in North Lombok, where freshly caaught fish are available in the local markets every day. Small chunks of fish (often tuna) are seasoned with chilli, garlic, galangal and other spices and moulded onto skewers, then grilled over charcoal. These are so tasty, they usually don't need any sauce.
Opor Ayam is a favourite served at special occasions in Lombok, particularly at Idul Fitri and Lebaran Topat holidays. Pieces of chicken and whole hard-boiled eggs are slowly cooked in a gravy of coconut milk and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic and ground candlenuts. rich, creamy and mouth-watering, Opor Ayam is best served with lontong (partially cooked rice that has been compressed, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled, and then is cut into firm cakes).