Wednesday 17 September 2008

rujak, spicy tamarind fruit salad

Surprisingly, yesterday I made an impromptu dinner and covered off another three 2008 Food Challenges! The first was to make rujak, a wonderful sweet and sour salad, popular in Indonesia and Malaysia, the second was to cook a Balinese feast and the last was to taste test crocodile meat.

Yes, that's right. Crocodile meat. And I can tell you it's very good!

My sister, Shamu, has been feeling a little down lately, so I decided to cook her Indonesian food since she learnt the language in school and has always had a fascination with the country.

Cooking the dishes was surprisingly easy and I was impressed with how well everything turned out. It was really yummy!

Here is what I cooked:
Rujak (spicy tamarind & fruit salad)
Sambal Tuwung (roasted eggplant salad)
Tahu Goreng Pedas (spicy fried tofu)
Buaya Tabiabun (long-pepper crocodile)
Acar (pickle condiment)
Nasi Kuning (fragrant turmeric rice)

Sago Gula Bali (sago in spiced coconut milk)

I will eventually post all the recipes, but be patient!!!

For now I will write about one of my all time favourite salads, rujak. Popular in both Indonesia and Malaysia, apparently this spicy, sweet-sour salad is a favourite afternoon snack in Bali for people of all ages.

I first tried rujak at a cooking class in Bali and have since seen the instructor’s recipe printed on this website, making it easy for me to reproduce the flavours.

Be careful not to make the dressing was too runny. It needs to be quite thick (almost like honey) and coat the fruit in a brown sauce. The key to this is making sure you cook your palm sugar syrup until very thick and sticky.

The flavours are delicious and I will make it again. It could become a summer favourite and will be a great salad alongside grilled meats and seafood.

Rujak (spicy tamarind & fruit salad)
Recipe from
Fragrant Rice by Janet De Neefe. Serves 4-6.


1-2 red chillies, trimmed (use long for mild or small hot flavour)
3 tablespoons tamarind pulp
4 tablespoons palm sugar syrup
7 teaspoons lime juice (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
¼ pineapple, peeled
1 nashi pear
1 apple
2 cucumbers


1. In a mortar and pestle, grind the chilli and salt.

2. Mix in the tamarind pulp, including the seeds (if using a food processor, the seeds will need to be removed).

3. Add palm sugar syrup. Add sea salt to taste and the lime juice, if using. It should resemble chutney.

4. Check flavours. It is important to achieve a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

5. Chop the fruit into bite size pieces and mix well with dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Traditionally this recipe includes roasted shrimp paste. Put ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste on a small square of aluminium foil and grill under a pre-heated griller until slightly toasted (30 seconds). Add to mortar and pestle when making dressing.

rujak can be made with any combination of apple, starfruit, pineapple, pear, jicama, cucumber etc. The dressing is also delicious with grated carrot or grilled meat.

Palm Sugar Syrup

Makes around 1.5cups


500 grams brown palm sugar
2 cups water
1 pandan leaf or vanilla bean


1. Put palm sugar, pandan (tied in a knot) and water in a saucepan.

2. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes without stirring until liquid has reduced by nearly half. Syrup is ready when large bubbles appear on the surface (as when making coffee).

3. While warm, strain into jug and leave to cool. It will thicken up at this point. Store in refrigerator.

This recipe is my contribution to the blogging event No Croutons Required, which this month has a fruit theme. The event is an opportunity for bloggers to share vegetarian salad or soup recipes and is hosted by Holler, the Scottish author of Tinned Tomatoes.



  1. An original and interesting salad!



  2. Thanks for submitting your salad to No Croutons Required, Anna. It sounds really good. Lucky you having a trip to Bali! The line-up and voting poll will be submitted tomorrow at Tinned Tomatoes.

    Good Luck

  3. Mmmm... was such a yummy dinner. I'm still hanging out for the Goreng Tahu Berbumbu (spiced tofu fritters) recipe! Luv Jo

  4. Thank you for sharing this menu! I've just returned from Bali and want to cook a Balinese meal for my next dinner club party, and yours is the best I've found on line.

    When will you post the tofu recipe? I'd like to make something with tofu or tempe as it is so common in Bali and some of my friends are vegetarians. Do you have any good tempe recipes? The tempe in Bali is the best I've ever had! Many thanks for your great blog. Margi


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