Sayur Asem (Indonesian Vegetable Tamarind Soup)

Sayur Asem (Indonesian Vegetable Tamarind Soup)

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Author: Marvellina
Vegetables are cooked in Tamarind broth and other common Indonesian spices and herbs. It's sour, sweet, and lightly spicy.
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  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 3 oz melinjo I used raw peanuts instead since I couldn't find melinjo
  • 3 oz long beans cut into 2-inch length
  • 2 sweet corns (cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces)
  • 2 large chayotes (peeled and cubed)
  • 5-6 of cabbage leaves (cut into large piece)
  • 2 tomatoes (quartered)
  • 3 bay leaves/daun salam
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp seedless tamarind paste + 3 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 Tbsp Gula Jawa or substitute with brown sugar
  • Salt to taste

Ground Spices:

  • 1 Thumb-size of galangal (mashed it with the side of a cleaver or heavy object and remove later before serving)
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 bird's eye chilis (more if you want it spicier)
  • 5 red chilis
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 candlenuts/kemiri
  • 1 tsp of shrimp paste /terasi


  • Put all the ingredient for ground spices into a food processor and process into a fine paste, you may need a little water to get it going. Set aside. Mix tamarind paste with warm water and mash with back of the spoon to get the tamarind juice, discard the solid
  • Preheat a large pot and add cooking oil. Add in the paste and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bay leaves, and beef broth. Bring it to a boil and then add in the rest of the vegetables and then lower the heat and let it gently simmer for about 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked through but not mushy. Have a taste and season with more salt and sugar as needed. It should be sweet, tangy, savory, and slightly spicy
  • Serve with rice and other dishes as part of multi-course meal