Sayur Lodeh: Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Milk Soup (Vegan)

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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.

Sayur lodeh is a popular Indonesian soup, made of vegetables and coconut milk. It’s a typical dish in home cooking and is associated with Javanese cuisine. In Javanese tradition, sayur lodeh is an important part in a selamatan (a traditional Javanese ceremony). Each ingredient in the dish has symbolic meaning, believed to ward off possible calamity. 

Sayur lodeh is made of different vegetables, and similar to sayur asem, the ingredients used are not really fixed (except when used in a ceremony, as each ingredient must represent specific meaning). It’s basically a soup with a base of coconut milk, enhanced with a little bit of this and that. Whatever you have on hand.

The spices used are also slightly different from one person to the next. Some use shrimp paste, some don’t, some put turmeric and other people like it just plain white. As long as you use shallots, garlic, coriander, galangal and salam leaves, there is no exact rule on what makes sayur lodeh. It’s possible to feature tens of different sayur lodeh recipes in one cooking blog. 

A Unique Taste

Sayur lodeh has a light creamy taste and a strong hint of galangal and salam leaf. Sometimes a slice of big red/green chilli is added, but in general, the dish is not spicy at all. Although creamy and tasty, sayur lodeh always needs some extra kick. You can eat it with fried salted fish and sambal terasi to accentuate it. 

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Prior to cooking this recipe, I went to the vegetable stall and asked for a sayur lodeh mix. The vegetable seller checked a few different packets and handed me one, saying that the packet is good because it has eggplant in it. When I opened it, the packet also contained fresh tamarind, meaning it is also sold as sayur asem. I basically just listed down the ingredients inside the packet for this recipe.

Some ingredients are optional, such as melinjo beans and leaves. Melinjo is the fruit of a special local plant known as melinjo (gnetum gnemon), which is native to Indonesia and can hardly be found outside the country. I like crunchy vegetables, so I cooked it briefly, but some people like their sayur lodeh softer and mushier. If you do, feel free to cook it a bit longer. Sayur lodeh will improve in flavour when it rests for a while after cooking.

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Sayur Lodeh: Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Milk Soup (Vegan)

Sayur Lodeh: Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Milk Soup (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Vegetables, Soups & Stews
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Sayur lodeh is a very common dish served in Indonesian households, mostly in Java. It’s a vegetable soup with a coconut milk base, and is light, healthy and not spicy.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 candlenuts, chopped
  • 2 cm galangal, bruised
  • 2 salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaves)
  • 200 gr chayote, peeled, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 100 gr long beans, cut in pieces
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 50 gr tempeh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 0.5 corn, cut into 3 
  • 100 gr melinjo beans (optional)
  • 20 gr melinjo leaves (optional)
  • 1 big red chilli (optional), sliced
  • 1 big green chilli (optional), sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100 ml coconut milk
  • 800 ml water

Instructions

  1. Blend into fine paste: shallots, garlic, coriander seeds and candlenuts.
  2. Put the blended spices in a cooking pot, add the galangal, salam leaves, water and coconut milk.
  3. Stir all the soup ingredients and cook it over medium high flame until it boils.
  4. Once the soup boils, add the corn, tempeh and melinjo fruit.

    add the corn, tempeh and melinjo fruit

  5. Add salt and sugar, and continue cooking for around 10 minutes.
  6. Add the chayote, eggplant and long beans. Cook for another 5 minutes.

    Add the chayote, eggplant and long beans

  7. Add melinjo leaves, red and green chilli, stir, and turn off the heat.

    Add melinjo leaves and chilli


Notes

  • Some people like to add a piece of 1 day old tempeh left out at room temperature, as it gives more flavour and aroma to the dish.

Keywords: Vegan, One-pot meals, non-spicy, chayote, eggplant, Healthy, Quick and easy

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