Timus: Fried Sweet Potato Balls (Vegan)

Timus is a hearty, filling sweet snack from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This vegan treat is an old-school dish made of steamed sweet potatoes that are then mashed and fried.

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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.

Timus is a traditional snack originating in Yogyakarta, but is also loved by people from the neighbouring city of Solo. It’s a humble folk snack made of sweet potato as the main ingredient.

When I was little, the dish was everywhere. My grandmother often cooked it for us, and I could also find it easily in many warungs (small food stalls). But today, it is slowly disappearing. Not many from the younger generations (especially outside Yogyakarta and Solo) know what timus is, or if they do, they refer to it as ‘makanan jadul’ or, an ‘old-school’ food. Though hard to find, it is still being sold in Yogyakarta and Solo, especially by street vendors selling ‘gorengan’ (fried snacks), and in ‘wedangan/angkringan’. These are traditional small warungs selling all kinds of snacks and drinks at night, and are popular hangout spots in Yogyakarta and Solo.

Timus is a very simple dish made of mashed steamed sweet potato. Any kind of sweet potato can be used here, such as white, purple or yellow sweet potato. Tapioca starch binds the dough — but not too much, so we still can taste the soft texture of the mashed sweet potato. For me, sugar is optional because some sweet potatoes are already naturally sweet. I’ll add sugar only when it’s needed, but most of the time, it’s unnecessary. To round it up, a pinch of salt is added to balance the flavour. All the ingredients are gently kneaded into a smooth dough. This dough is then rolled into a ball and shaped into an oval, and finally deep fried until golden brown. 


Though humble and simple, timus is one of my favourite snacks — it reminds me of my childhood. I also love the dominant sweet potato flavour with just the right consistency of the tapioca flour. Timus contains a lot of carbs, so it fills me up. The best way to enjoy timus is in the morning or afternoon, accompanied by a cup of lovely masala tea or kopi jahe rempah.

Timus is not to be confused with ketimus/katimus (sometimes also called timus)! The latter is a traditional snack from West Java of grated cassava and palm sugar wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Though almost similar in name, the two are different dishes.

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Timus: Fried Sweet Potato Balls (Vegan)

Timus: Fried Sweet Potato Balls (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Timus is a hearty, filling sweet snack from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This vegan treat is an old-school dish made of steamed sweet potatoes that are then mashed and fried.


  • 500 gr sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp (around 40 gr) tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 drop vanilla extract (optional)
  • Cooking oil for deep frying


  1. Steam the sweet potatoes until done (around 20 minutes), cool, peel and finely mash in a large bowl. 

    Mash the steamed sweet potatoes

  2. Add sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Mix well.

    Add sugar, salt and vanilla extract

  3. Add tapioca flour.

    Add tapioca flour

  4. Knead until smooth, with no more sticky bits of flour.

    Knead until smooth

  5. Take some of the dough, roll to form a ball, then slowly shape the ball into an oval.
  6. Do the same with the rest of the dough.

    Shape the dough into ovals

  7. In a small frying pan, heat the cooking oil over medium heat and fry the oval dough until it turns golden brown (around 4 minutes each side).

    Fry until golden brown

  8. Serve immediately.


  • Some people love to add vanilla essence, so I also added it in the recipe (optional), but for my personal taste, I love the natural flavour of the sweet potato, so I often omit it. 
  • Adjust the amount of sugar according to your preference. 

Keywords: Common ingredients, tapioca

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