Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak: Tahu and Tempeh in Thick Sauce (Vegan)

Tahu tempe bumbu rujak is a typical dish in Javanese home cooking, in which tofu and tempeh are simmered in spices and coconut milk until the gravy thickens. This vegan recipe is an excellent source of protein.

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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.

When Deyana asked me to feature some tofu/tempeh dishes sometime ago, I immediately thought of tahu tempe bumbu rujak, which my late mother often cooked. Before today, I hadn’t eaten the dish since my mother passed away. But I used to watch and help her prepare it, and had successfully cooked it on my own too. My dear mother loved cooking this dish so much – it appeared so frequently on our dining table that we had no chance to try it elsewhere!

I mentioned this dish to my sister and she handed me a treasured original handwritten recipe from our mother. She wanted me to replicate our mother’s dish exactly, and so I decided to follow the recipe to continue her cooking legacy. 

You have to be a real pro to read my mom’s recipe because she wrote down only the ingredients without any measurements or instructions. But it’s interesting what we subconsciously remember. I can still recall exactly what the dish looked like. I remember the smell, the taste, the color, the texture, and even the shiny whole chilies and golden shimmery gravy of the dish. So based on the written ingredients and childhood memories, I recreated one of my mom’s signature dishes. 


Tahu tempe bumbu rujak is a typical Javanese dish. The main ingredients are tofu and tempeh, and you can use both or either of them. The dish is complex as various spices and herbs are used, including the classic duo of galangal and salam leaves which is often found in authentic Javanese cooking. Thanks to candlenut and coconut milk, the dish is also quite rich and creamy. Enjoy with a bowl of rice, and it will definitely satisfy your rumbling stomach right away. Sugeng dahar, or happy eating!

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Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak

Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak: Tahu and Tempeh in Thick Coconut Sauce (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Tofu & Tempeh
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Tahu tempe bumbu rujak is a typical dish in Javanese home cooking, in which tofu and tempeh are simmered in spices and coconut milk until the gravy thickens. This vegan recipe is an excellent source of protein.


  • 250 gr tempe, cut into 3X3 cm cubes
  • 250 gr firm tofu, cut into 3X3 cm cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 7 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 big red chillies, chopped
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 4 candlenuts, chopped
  • 4 cm fresh turmeric, peeled, chopped
  • 0.5 tsp white pepper powder
  • 0.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, use only the white part, bruised, knotted if it has long stalks
  • 4 cm fresh galangal, peeled, sliced
  • 2 fresh salam leaves
  • 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • 700 ml water
  • 65 ml coconut milk
  • 10 bird’s eye chillies


  1. Deep fry the tofu until half-cooked. Set aside. Do not fry the tempe.
  2. In a blender or food processor, blend the garlic, shallots, red chillies, ginger, candlenuts and turmeric into a fine paste.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, then sauté the spice paste, pepper powder, coriander powder, lemongrass, galangal, salam leaves and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant (around 4 minutes).Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak: saute spices
  4. Add salt and sugar.
  5. Add water, stir until the sauteed spices and the water are mixed together.
  6. Add the coconut milk, stir well.Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak: add coconut milk
  7. Add the tempeh and tofu pieces. Wait until the mixture boils, then reduce the heat to medium low.Tahu Tempe Bumbu Rujak: add tofu and tempeh
  8. Simmer for about 35 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
  9. Add the whole bird’s eye chillies, cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Keywords: Vegan, Tofu, Tempe, Coconut, Turmeric

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  1. I am currently in the U.S and I have been craving this. However, I could not seem to find sticky rice in Asian grocery stores. Is there any substitute for this or is regular white rice is okay?


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