The Daring Spiciness of Manado

The regional flavours of this town are definitely not for the faint of palate, but if you dare to give it a try, it will be worth it.

As the capital city of North Sulawesi province, and the second largest city in Sulawesi after Makassar, Manado is one of Indonesia’s popular holiday destinations. When conversing about this city, two things usually come to the mind of avid travellers: the magnificently vibrant world of underwater marine wonders at Bunaken, and the unforgettable flavours of the rich regional cuisine on offer.


This dish is more popularly known by its other name, Bubur Manado (Manadonese porridge). Tinutuan immediately stands apart from other types of Indonesian porridge thanks to the corn and spinach topping. The porridge itself is made from rice and crookneck pumpkin, usually served with salted fish and sambal terasi, and is really popular for breakfast.

Dabu dabu

Manadonese people love their chillies (or rica, in Manadonese) and all their dishes should be accompanied by a spicy condiment. Slightly different from most types of sambal in Indonesia, this town’s take on sambal is called dabu-dabu, and is made from chopped red chillies, bird’s eye chillies, shallots, and green tomatoes, mixed with fresh calamansi juice (which can be replaced by kaffir lime or lemon juice). It’s refreshing, yet at the same time hot, and is perfect to accompany grilled fish and seafood.

Cakalang fufu

Cakalang is made from skipjack tuna that has been cleaned, split into two and clipped on a bamboo frame. Afterwards, the fish is cured using soda powder, salt and spices, before going through a smoking process. The curing and smoking process create pungent flavours that make cakalang fufu a versatile ingredient to be used in many dishes. When processed correctly, cakalang fufu can last for a month, making it a popular item for travellers to buy and bring home. Cakalang fufu is usually consumed with steamed rice and dabu-dabu, as well as shredded and cooked in spicy rica-rica (chilli) mixture to be put on top of rice or noodles.