Sayur Asem - Vegetable Tamarind Soup

Sayur Asem (Vegetable Tamarind Soup)

Feel the refreshing taste of vegetables that are cooked in sour Tamarind broth. Originated from Sundanese tribe of Indonesia, who is known for using plenty of vegetable in their dishes, Sayur Asem is loved by many. It is a perfect combination of sweet, sour, and lightly spicy taste that melts together inside your mouth.

Learn how to cook Sayur Asem using this original recipe that is easy to follow.


  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 10 mins

Servings: 4-6


  • 6 cabbage leaves, cored and cut into bite size
  • 2 sweet corns, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 300 gram chayote, cored and cut into bite size
  • 100 gram melinjo (can be substituted with raw peanuts if you couldn’t fine one)
  • 100 gram long beans, cut into 2-inch length
  • 100 gram melinjo leaves
  • 2 tablespoon seedless tamarind paste, soaked in 3 tablespoon warm water
  • 2 tablespoon Javanese palm sugar
  • 1500 ml water (can be substituted with beef or chicken broth for richer taste)
  • Salt for seasoning


  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
  • Thumb-sized galangal

Spice paste

  • 3 shallots
  • 1 cayenne pepper (add more for spicier taste)
  • 5 red chili
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 candlenuts
  • 1 teaspoon black shrimp paste (terasi)
  • Thumb-sized fresh ginger
  • Thumb-sized turmeric


  1. Prepare for tamarind juice by mashing the soaked tamarind paste with back of the spoon, strained and discard the solids.
  2. Heat a large pot, add cooking coil in it. Stir fry the spice paste and herbs for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the water or broth, tamarind juice, and Javanese palm sugar, bring to a boil.
  3. Add melinjo nuts and melinjo leaves, cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (vegetables) and wait until everything get tender and thoroughly cooked or for another 15-20 minutes. Adjust the taste with salt. Turn off the heat and serve while it is warm


  • Sayur Asem is best to serve as a part of a full meal.
  • A perfect Sayur Asem has a sweet, savory, tangy, and slightly spicy in one sip.


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