Lalapan: Indonesian Side Salad

Lalapan is a simple Indonesian vegetable salad that’s served as a side, along with a fried or grilled main course. It’s always eaten with sambal and adds freshness and nutrition to a meal.

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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.

In many of our recipes, we suggest serving the dish with lalapan, especially for fried or grilled meat and seafood dishes. You might be wondering, what is lalapan, how to make and serve it, and what is its function on Indonesian meals?

Lalapan is an assortment of vegetables, paired with sambal and served as a side dish next to the main course. It’s similar to a very simple salad, except that it can’t be served alone as an individual dish.

Lalapan is an important component of Indonesian meals. It’s indispensable when enjoying certain dishes such as ayam goreng, ayam bakar, and pecel lele. Lalapan often functions as a garnish as well.

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Ingredient Variety

In Indonesia, the most common vegetables used as lalapan are cucumber, lettuce, kemangi (lemon basil), long beans and tomatoes, as they are inexpensive and readily available all year round, but any edible vegetables can be used. Thus, different regions might serve different vegetables unique to them.

Lalapan retains the original flavour of the vegetables (some people might refer to it as bland), as no additional salt/spices are incorporated. The vegetables can be served raw, blanched, plain grilled/boiled and in rare cases, fried. But lalapan is always eaten with sambal, which gives it all the taste it needs!

There are no set rules as to what type of sambal is appropriate for lalapan. Any kind of sambal can be served. Please feel free to experiment making different kinds of sambal to complete your lalapan repertoire. Have a look at our sambal section for inspiration! 

Ideally, eating lalapan should be like eating a tortilla with salsa. The vegetable is the tortilla, and the sambal is the salsa. Scoop a tiny amount of sambal using the vegetable to enjoy it. If it’s too spicy, you can just lightly tap the surface of the sambal with the vegetable. If it’s still too overwhelming, add a tiny bit of sambal to your rice, and when you put a spoonful into your mouth, bite some lalapan and chew everything at the same time. 

The Purpose of Lalapan

Lalapan is a unique Indonesian dining experience. Most Indonesian dishes have a complex flavour, so lalapan helps neutralize the complexity and adds freshness to the meal. Raw lalapan, especially, also provides nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber, depending on the vegetable. Adding lalapan to unhealthy fried foods makes us feel less guilty too. But whatever the reason, for most Indonesians, lalapan makes meals feel complete. 

The recipe below just serves as an example of a lalapan preparation. Everyone has absolute freedom to choose what type of vegetables, the preparation method and what kind of sambal to go along with. 

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Lalapan: Indonesian Side Salad

Lalapan: Indonesian Side Salad

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Low Calorie

Description

Lalapan is a simple Indonesian vegetable salad that’s served as a side, along with a fried or grilled main course. It’s always eaten with sambal and adds freshness and nutrition to a meal.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 red firm tomato, quartered 
  • Half a cucumber, sliced 
  • 2 long beans, cut into 4 cm pieces
  • A handful of kemangi

Instructions

  1. Put all the vegetables on a serving plate. 
  2. Get your sambal ready and enjoy!

    Lalapan is done


Notes

Sambal terasi and sambal tomat are some of the easiest sambals to make and the ingredients are relatively easy to find outside Indonesia.

Keywords: Quick and Easy, Healthy, Common ingredients, non-spicy

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