Lontong sayur is a dish consisting of hard-boiled rice (lontong) with vegetable curry. The curry is made with well-balanced spices cooked in coconut milk. It has a creamy and spicy taste that marries well with the rice cake, aka lontong.
This dish is often sought-after for breakfast. Nowadays, you can enjoy it pretty much any time of the day because it is relatively filling, thanks to the combo of lontong, veggies, and spiced coconut milk.
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And you can make this dish vegan if you omit the dried shrimp paste or fish sauce. And substitute it with tamari.
There are many versions of lontong sayur in Indonesia. Every region has its way of cooking it and uses different ingredients.
But in essence, lontong sayur is an Indonesian vegetable curry cooked in coconut milk that you eat with hard-boiled rice.
The recipe that I’m sharing here is Lontong Sayur Betawi. Betawi is an alias for Jakarta.
Like my other Indonesian food recipes, this one belongs to my mom. But I tweaked it and made some changes for convenience and practicality.
What is Lontong?
Lontong is rice wrapped in banana leaves and shaped into a tube/ cylinder. It is then slowly boiled until the rice is mushy. When it cools down, the rice will be hardened. And when you open the wrapper, the hard-boiled rice will be shaped like a tube.
The taste of lontong itself is simply like rice. But its texture is like firm tofu made with overcooked rice grains.
In Indonesia, there are two types of hard-boiled rice cakes. They are lontong and ketupat. They both have the same cooking method: boiling for a long hour until the grains are softened and mushy.
The difference is that ketupat is wrapped in woven palm leaves and has a diamond shape. Traditionally, ketupat will be made for festive Eid celebrations. Therefore, you won’t find sellers selling ketupat wrappers outside the Eid season.
How to Make Lontong
Now, making a proper lontong with a banana leaf here in the UK is possible because you can get banana leaves at the Asian shops in Chinatown.
However, the price can be costly.
So, as an alternative, we can do it using a food-grade plastic bag.
Fill the bag with rice up to a third of it and pierce it with skewers to make holes in the bag. You can also use pre-packaged Basmati boil-in-a-bag rice packets that you can get from supermarkets.
Then, boil the bags in plenty of water. You can do so in a pressure cooker for about one hour. Or, you can use a large cooking pot, which takes about an hour and a half.
When it’s done, your boil-in-a-bag rice will be soft to the touch but harden once it’s completely cooled down. So leave it on a colander to ensure any excess moisture will be drained and evaporated.
If you want, I have a tutorial post here on making lontong without banana leaves that you can look at.
Flexible Ingredients for Lontong Sayur
Traditionally, the vegetables in this curry dish are raw papaya or labu siam/ chayote, Kacang Panjang/ yardlong, and potatoes.
Although those items are available in the UK, it is not easy to find them. You may have to go to certain Asian shops as not all sell these veggies.
Alternatively, you can put green beans or broad beans and potatoes. They make an equally delicious Lontong Sayur if the spices are rightly balanced. And, of course, it also depends on how we cook it.
By all means, you can choose whichever vegetables you’d like to use.
Top Tips to Make Mouthwatering Lontong Sayur
- Ensure you fry the spice paste until it is cooked and releases a delicious aroma. If needed, add more oil so the spice won’t go dry.
- Terasi (dried shrimp paste) and fish sauce have salt in them. So, you may want to add salt a little as you try the taste.
Ways to Enjoy Indonesian Vegetable Curry with Lontong
You’ll only need crispy fried onions, some kerupuk (prawn crackers), and sambal (homemade chili sauce) as an addition when you enjoy your lontong sayur.
But, as a festive food such as Eid’s feast, you can have lontong sayur Betawi with semur daging (slow-cooked meat in spicy sweet soy sauce), beef rendang (slow-cooked beef in spicy coconut milk), sambal goreng hati (liver cooked in spicy coconut milk), and/or Ayam goreng (Indonesian fried chicken).
However, I often have lontong sayur with Ayam kecap (sweet soy chicken), or krecek ati Ayam (chicken liver braised in soy sauce), as shown in the picture.
You can cook and prepare this lontong sayur for another day. Don’t put the vegetables in the coconut milk if you plan to do so.
On the day you serve the dish, reheat the curry gravy until it is piping hot, boil the vegetables separately, drain, and add them to the curry.
However, if you want to make it in bulk and save it as a keeper, you can freeze it for up to 2 months. Take it out of the freezer the night before serving and leave it in the fridge/ refrigerator to thaw overnight.
Reheat the vegetable curry until piping hot before serving. Once it has thawed, you must not refreeze.
When keeping some leftovers, the curry keeps well in the fridge/ refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
As for the lontong, you can keep and store them for the same period. Steam the lontong and let it cool down slightly before serving.
More Savory Street Foods from Indonesia
If you need more ideas for Indonesian street food recipes, you can try Sate Ayam – Indonesian chicken satay with spicy peanut sauce, Tongseng – braised lamb in spiced coconut milk, Soto Ayam – chicken clear soup, or Soto Betawi – beef soup from the Jakarta region.
I hope you enjoyed this Lontong Sayur Betawi recipe. Feel free to share the post and pin it. And share what you think about the recipe in the comments below. I really appreciate it.
Take care and all the best.
Lontong sayur Betawi
- Chopping board
- Kitchen knife
- Pressure cooker.
- Cooking pot
- Wooden spoon
- 3 small potatoes, or 2 big ones. Cut into small cubes.
- 2 cups raw papaya or Chayote grated.
- 1 cup green beans diagonally sliced.
- 1- inch galangal.
- 1 lemongrass. cut into one-inch pieces.
- 2 salam leaves.
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar/ dark muscovado sugar.
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt or according to taste.
- 14 fluid ounces coconut milk.
- 15 fluid ounces water.
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil.
- 1 onion finely chopped.
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped.
- 2-3 red bird’s eye chillies or 1 ½ teaspoon of Kashmiri red chilli powder.
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander.
- 1 teaspoon of dried shrimp paste terasi, optional (see the note), or
- 2 teaspoons of fish sauce or tamari sauce for vegans.
- Put all the spice paste ingredients in a blender or a food processor, and process until it becomes a smooth paste. You can also use a pestle and mortar to pound into a paste. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a cooking pot.
- Fry the spice paste until it releases an aroma.
- Add in the galangal, lemongrass, salam leaves, salt and brown sugar.
- After a minute or two, add in the coconut milk and water. And also fish sauce if used.
- Stir it well and put the lid on to cook at medium heat until it’s boiling.
- When the coconut milk is boiling, you can put the potatoes in and leave it to cook further for about 5 minutes.
- Then add the raw papaya or green beans to the curry.
- This time turn the heat down and cook at low heat until all vegetables are cooked.
- Pour the vegetable curry over the lontong.
- As mentioned above, the original dish uses grated raw papaya, labu siam/ chayote, kacang Panjang/ yardlong beans, and potatoes. But if it’s unavailable, you can substitute them with green beans and potatoes. Just replace the number of green veggies with green beans. If you use yardlong beans/ kacang Panjang, cut them into ½ inch pieces.
- Choose baby potatoes, new potatoes, or Charlotte potatoes. Because they’re waxy, they aren’t mushy when cooked in liquid.
- Shrimp paste has a strong, pungent smell that some people may dislike. And some products have an overpowering smell and flavor. So you may want to go easy on using it. Try to put it little by little rather than follow the recipe straightaway. And see for yourself if you need to add more.
- If you can’t get shrimp paste, you can use fish sauce. I’ve made a lontong sayur with fish sauce. It was equally tasty as the one with shrimp paste, though the smell was subtly different.
- You can use vegan fish sauce or tamari sauce for a vegan option.
- Traditionally, we enjoy the dish with boiled egg, kerupuk/ prawn crackers, and garnished with fried onions.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.