13 Must-Try Traditional Foods from Papua

(Meta description: We all know that sago is the main carbohydrate source in Papua. How much do we know about their culinary dishes? These 13 examples will enrich your taste in food.)

Slug: 13-papuan-traditional-foods

As the most eastern part of Indonesia, Papua is rich in natural resources and culture. When it comes to culinary, they have plenty of dishes that you should try—at least for once in your life.

13 Traditional Dishes From Papua, Indonesia:


Here is the list of 13 traditional dishes from Papua that you should try. From here, you get to know the foods they eat on a daily basis:

Sago martabak.


Martabak itself has slight influences from Middle Eastern and similar Egyptian dishes. Commonly, it is a stuffed pancake filled with meat plus scrambled eggs and additional ingredients (like salt and pepper). The meat can either be pieces of cooked chicken or beef.

The sweetened version of the usual martabak is filled with milk or chocolate. (Sometimes cheese is added to it. Sometimes they add peanuts for a crunchy sensation after each bite).

Sago martabak is obviously made of sago. Sago is ground until it turns mushy before it is fried. Then brown sugar is added into the mix. This dish is originally from Fak-fak Regency.



To make papeda, sago is turned into porridge. At first glance, you may hesitate to try since it looks more like sticky glue. However, it tastes bland. You will need to have it with other dishes, like fish soup for example. You can also eat papeda by rolling it around a bamboo stick.

To finish it off, it is suggested that you swallow it up right away. Chewing it will only leave a sticky, gooey bit in your mouth – especially on your teeth.

Sago grub satay.


This is considered more as a snack than a main dish. For starters, sago grubs are taken from sago trees. The trees, however, have to be old and rather weathered. Neatly placed on bamboo sticks, the sago grubs are grilled or roasted.

Bagea cake.



Do you have strong teeth? Bagea cake is probably for you. Tough but small, this cake is made from sago and walnut. The additional flavors include cinnamon and clove in it. You can have this cake with coffee or tea. You can even have it wrapped in dried leaves and take it home as edible souvenirs.

Ikan bungkus (wrapped fish).


This fish is cooked inside a taro leaf. Special spices and herbs only from Papua are added here as well. You will taste its most saltiness since salt is mainly used here to slowly release the sap from the taro leaf. The fish itself is grilled with a small fire, so it takes a while for this dish to finish.

After that, wrap the fish in a taro leaf before serving it while it is still warm.

Aunu senebre.


The main ingredient for this dish is a lot of anchovies. They are fried with rice before being mixed with the already cut-up taro leaves. The tasty flavor of this dish comes from taro leaves. There is also grated coconut in the mix, which makes aunu senebre taste a little bit too dry to some people.

To reduce the dry sensation in the mouth, you can have this dish with the chewy, sticky papeda.

Lontar cake.


This Papuan cake looks slightly similar to Balinese milk pie. The difference is, lontar cake is made using a ceramic plate, which determines the size of the cake. This dish is often served during Christmas and Eid.

Manokwari grilled fish.


Originally from Manokwari, West Papua, this traditional dish uses mackerel tuna fish. It is grilled with lots of chilies, so be ready to finish this with lots of drinks.

Ants’ nests.



The name might freak you out, but no worries. It is actually the name of an endemic plant in the forests of Papua. The plant really looks like an ant’s nest, and it is in high demand. Not only as a cake, ants’ nests can also be used as medicine.

Sago slabs.


Eat these slabs while they are still hot. The sago is shaped into rectangles before being roasted with fire until the rectangles turn brownish-red. These slabs are hard to bite since they are super dry. However, they last a long time.

Cheating prawn.



The name might want to make you want to giggle, but that is because the prawn looks like a crab. The meat is sweet like lobster. You can have this with any sauce you like.



Saksak is actually sago dumplings. These slippery, jelly-like dumplings are made with tapioca, sugar, and mashed bananas. Mix and wrap them up in banana leaves before steaming them in two minutes. The sweetness comes from the bananas.



With meat as the main source for this dish, mix it up with vegetables, spices, coconut milk, and salt. Wrap them up in banana leaves before heating them on the ground with very hot stones.

With these traditional dishes from Papua, enrich your culinary experiences.




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