Pindang Iga: Sour and Spicy Beef Ribs Soup

A sour and spicy soup originally from Palembang, South Sumatra. Our Pindang Iga recipe calls for beef ribs, and is not spicy when served.

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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.

Pindang, a specialty of Palembang in South Sumatra, is a sour and spicy fish soup cooked with turmeric, ginger, chilli, garlic, shallots, and more. These days, it has become quite popular in other regions in Indonesia.

There are many variants of pindang dishes outside Palembang, using proteins other than fish, such as eggs or beef. In this recipe, we will be using beef ribs, known in Indonesian as iga.

Pindang is notable for its fresh, sour and spicy flavours. To achieve the sourness, tamarind, tomatoes or sliced pineapples are added. In this recipe, I’ve used tomatoes, adding them towards the end of the cooking process, but you can also substitute it with sliced fresh pineapple if you wish.


I’ve also used uncrushed whole chillies, so that the soup won’t be spicy and everyone in the family can enjoy the dish. If you prefer to have it spicy, you can scoop the whole chillies from the dish and crush them on your own serving plate. As with most of the Indonesian dishes, enjoy this soup with a bowl of rice. Selamat makan!

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Pindang Iga: Sour and Spicy Beef Ribs Soup

Pindang Iga: Sour and Spicy Beef Ribs Soup

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Soups & Stews, Beef & Lamb
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


A sour and spicy soup originally from Palembang in South Sumatra. Traditionally a fish dish, it is today cooked all over Indonesia with a variety of proteins. Our recipe calls for beef ribs, and is not spicy when served.


  • 1 kg beef ribs, cut into small pieces, washed thoroughly with cold water
  • 8 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 cm fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 pieces fresh turmeric (measuring 4 cm each), peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2 salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaves)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, use only the white parts, bruised, knotted
  • 2 red tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 stalks of spring onion, cut in 2 cm pieces
  • 10 whole bird’s eye chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ltr water

Pindang Iga ingredients


  1. Fill a large cooking pot with 2 litres of water, add the ribs, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. While waiting for the soup to boil: In a medium-sized frying pan, sauté the shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger and shrimp paste over high heat until fragrant, around 3 minutes.

  3. Add the sautéed spices to the boiling pot. Lower the heat to a small flame.
  4. Add the salam leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and salt.
  5. Cover the pot partially, to allow the steam to escape so the soup won’t overflow.
  6. Continue cooking for 1.5 hours or until the meat is tender.
  7. Adjust the seasoning.
  8. When the soup is done, add the whole bird’s eye chilies, spring onions and tomatoes, then turn the heat off.


  • Slowly simmer the soup over low heat to bring out the essence of the meat and the bones, for the best flavour.

Keywords: Non-spicy, One-pot meals, Clear Soup

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