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Sayur Asem: Sour Vegetable Soup with Tamarind

In the realm of Indonesian cuisine, Sayur Asem holds a special place. This tantalizing sour vegetable soup, laced with the tanginess of tamarind, is a classic native dish that offers a delightful contrast of flavors. It’s a healthy concoction laden with a variety of vegetables, enriched with the goodness of tamarind, and spiked with a hint of chili. Sayur Asem is not just a dish, it’s a celebration of Indonesia’s rich culinary heritage and love for vibrant flavors. This article will guide you through the process of preparing this authentic Indonesian treat at home.

Sayur Asem: Sour Vegetable Soup with Tamarind


  • 1 liter of water
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
  • 1 corn cob, cut into rounds
  • 1 chayote, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 handful of green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 small eggplants, cut into rounds
  • 1 red chili, seeded and chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Salt to taste

Cooking Steps

  • Start by boiling the water in a large pot. Once it starts to boil, add the tamarind paste and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
  • Add the corn, chayote, green beans, and eggplants to the pot. Cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, prepare a spice paste. Combine the chili, shallots, and garlic in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste.
  • Add the spice paste, bay leaves, sugar, and salt to the pot. Stir well and let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning and adjust according to your taste. Your Sayur Asem is ready to be served.

In conclusion, Sayur Asem is a nourishing, flavor-packed dish that perfectly embodies the essence of Indonesian cuisine. When preparing this soup, the freshness of the vegetables is paramount. Look for firm, brightly colored vegetables that are free from blemishes or soft spots. The tamarind paste is a key ingredient that gives the soup its characteristic sourness, so don’t skimp on it. However, remember to balance the tanginess with sugar and salt. With a little patience and the right ingredients, you’ll be able to recreate this classic Indonesian soup in your own kitchen, and treat your taste buds to an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

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