Gulai Nangka: Padang-style Young Jackfruit Curry (Vegan)

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Gulai nangka or young jackfruit gulai is another favourite of Padang cuisine. It is also called gulai cubadak (cubadak means “young jackfruit” in the Minang language). As its name suggests, young jackfruit is the main ingredient of this dish, and is cooked in spices and coconut milk, along with other vegetables like long beans and cabbage. The flavour of the dish improves over several days after cooking it, as the spices meld over time and the vegetables truly absorb the flavour. 

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is widely cultivated throughout tropical regions of the world and is popular in South and Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, jackfruit is called nangka and it’s very common for Indonesians to grow jackfruit trees in their garden. It’s a beautiful lush tree which can grow between 10-20 meters tall and is excellent for providing shade. One jackfruit tree can yield many fruits all year long. When left to mature, each individual jackfruit can weigh more than 30 kg. This giant fruit has thorny rinds, but it’s not sharp and it can be carried using bare hands. 


Jackfruit can be eaten both ripe and unripe. The ripe fruit, which is sweet, is sold in fruit stalls, while the unripe jackfruit is considered a vegetable and is sold in vegetable stalls. The ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet and has a strong, distinctive aroma, which some people describe as a blend of pineapple and banana. It is bright yellow and is delicious eaten as is. It can also be made into desserts such as kolak pisang or sprinkled on es teler (shaved ice with mixed fruit and syrup).

Unripe jackfruit has to be cooked before it can be eaten. It has a tough texture and needs a much longer cooking time compared to other vegetables, and is more similar to cooking meat. If you live outside Indonesia, it might be difficult to find fresh young jackfruit. If available, canned young jackfruit can be used as a substitute. As the canned jackfruit is already precooked and soft, the cooking time and the amount of water need to be reduced accordingly. 

Gulai nangka is available in almost every Padang restaurant. It is delicious and aside from the long cooking time, cooking gulai nangka is relatively simple — happy cooking and eating!

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Gulai Nangka: Padang-style Young Jackfruit Curry

Gulai Nangka: Padang-style Young Jackfruit Curry (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Vegetables, Soups & Stews
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Gulai nangka, or young jackfruit gulai, is a vegan curry that is a signature dish in Padang cuisine. Here, young jackfruit is stewed in coconut milk and spices, with long beans and cabbage providing extra fibre.


  • 300 gr young jackfruit, cut into bite-sized pieces, washed thoroughly
  • 100 gr long beans, cut into 6 cm pieces
  • 100 gr cabbage, cut into small pieces
  • 4 big red chillies, chopped
  • 7 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 4 cm fresh turmeric, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tsp whole coriander
  • 0.5 tsp white pepper powder
  • 4 cm fresh galangal, peeled, sliced
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised, knotted
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 0.5 tsp tamarind
  • 1.5 ltr water
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • Salt to taste

Gulai Nangka ingredients


  1. Using a blender or food processor, blend: the chillies, shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric and coriander.
  2. In a cooking pot, put the cut young jackfruit, blended spices, white pepper powder, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and salt.

    Mix the ingredients in a cooking pot

  3. Knead the tamarind with 2 tbsp of water to extract the juice, then add to the pot.
  4. Add the water and coconut milk, stir gently to mix all the ingredients.

    Stir gently

  5. Cook over medium flame until it boils, stir frequently.
  6. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and cook further for 1.5 hr or until the jackfruit is tender. Add hot water if necessary.
  7. Add the long beans and cabbage, and cook for another 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.


After a long day, a super satisfying meal would be steamed rice, gulai nangka, rendang and sambal ijo.

Keywords: Coconut, Vegan, One-pot meal, Healthy

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