Rawon: East Javanese Beef Stew with Keluak

Rawon is a rich beef stew from East Java. This recipe calls for keluak, which gives the dish its distinctive black colour.

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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.

If you have a chance to visit Surabaya, the capital city of East Java, you must try rawon! It is one of its most famous dishes that’s well-known all over Indonesia.

Rawon is a beef stew simmered in a spice paste made of keluwak (also spelled keluak). This seed, along with the beef, is the star of the dish. Keluwak gives the dish its distinctive black color and nutty flavor, and is absolutely essential to every rawon recipe.

Keluak is a fruit with an edible nut. The seed is generally used in cooking, and usually bought separately from the fruit. It needs to be cracked open, and the flesh from the kernel is extracted for cooking. Keluwak can be hard to find overseas. It’s sometimes available in the wet markets of Singapore and Malaysia, or in the Asian dry spices section in supermarkets elsewhere. Outside Indonesia, it is usually sold in a small package containing ready-to-use flesh. If the flesh is dry and hard, it can be soaked in water to soften it.


The combination of the beef broth and the distinctive dark, rich flavour of the keluwak makes rawon a hearty dish with an intense flavour. Because of this, it is always enjoyed with rice and some side dishes like salted duck egg, beansprouts, fried shallots, sambal terasi and kerupuk (crackers). 

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Rawon: East Javanese Keluak Beef Stew

Rawon: East Javanese Beef Stew with Keluak

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Beef & Lamb, Soups & Stews
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


Rawon, originally from East Java, is a beef stew cooked with keluak, giving the dish its distinctive black colour. This delicious dish keeps well and can be enjoyed for a few days after cooking.


  • 500 gr beef brisket or shank, cut into chunks
  • 7 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 candlenuts, chopped
  • 3 pcs keluwak seeds (or 10 gr ready-to-use keluwak)
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cm fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cm lesser galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 0.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 0.5 tsp tamarind
  • 0.5 tsp shrimp paste
  • ¼ tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 lemongrass, bruised and knotted
  • 3 cm galangal, peeled and sliced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lt water


  1. Using a blender or a food processor, blend into a fine paste: shallots, garlic, candlenuts, keluwak flesh, ginger, turmeric, lesser galangal, coriander, cumin, tamarind and shrimp paste.
  2. Put the beef and the water in a medium-sized pot and cook on high heat until it boils, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
  3. Using a small frying pan, heat the vegetable oil and saute the blended spice paste until fragrant, around 3 minutes.

    Saute the blended spice paste

  4. Transfer the sauteed spices to the soup.
  5. Add the pepper powder, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.
  6. Add salt.
  7. Simmer the soup for 1.5 hours or until the meat is done.

    Simmer the soup

  8. Serve with sambal terasi, salted egg, bean sprout, fried shallots and kerupuk.


Rawon gets tastier the longer you keep it, as the flavours have more time to blend. Making it in advance will save you on busy days ahead. And you will have a delicious, tasty stew, suitable for a hearty lunch or dinner!

Keywords: One-pot meal, Non-spicy

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