Vegetarian Rendang and Saffron rice

Published September 19, 2014 by Ninik Becker

vegetarian rendang and saffron rice

Reopen an old book from my great-grandmother’s handwriting, there are many traditional Indonesian recipes that loaded with spices to give very delicious taste.

My eyes stopped at the small notes below the ‘Rendang’ recipe. Written in Java language which means is : ‘If not eating meat, the ingredient can be replaced with tempeh or tofu.

vegetarian rendang

I have often cooked beef rendang because this dish is Big Bear’s number one Indonesian favorite dish. And now I want to try a vegetarian version (not for him) although to get the ingredients and spices at my place is not easy. Basically the recipe is similar only the process is shorter.


Most kitchens in Indonesia have basic complete spices, maybe you want to try something new flavor? So please don’t feel intimidated by list of spices.

Vegetarian Rendang


  • 1 block firm tofu, cubes
  • 200 g tempeh, cubes
  • 3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • some fresh herb for garnish
  • some extra water/stock if needed

Spices A : make into paste.

  • 5 purple shallots (less number if using bigger other shallots)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cm ginger root
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds, toasted
  • 5 kemiri (candlenuts), toasted
  • 2 cm turmeric root, toasted
  • 3 cayenne pepper
  • 5 big red pepper ( Anaheim pepper)
  • 1 tsp cumin, if like

Spices B :

  • 1 cm lengkuas (galangal), pressed
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 serai (lemongrass), knotted, pressed the white part
  • 2 slices asam gelugur /can be replace with 2 eyes (not two pods) of tamarind
  • 1 turmeric leaf/curry leaf
  • 2 daun salam/bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp gula jawa/brown sugar

Methods :

There are two methods, sautéed spices and boiled spices. This time I chose the sautéed.

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a sauce pan and sauté spices A until the aroma comes out.
  2. Add spices B, stir fry briefly.
  3. Add tempeh and tofu, stir well and reduce the heat and cook for a few minutes to half soften.
  4. Add coconut milk, stirring regularly so that the sauce won’t break apart.
  5. Add salt and sugar to taste, add more if necessary depending on your taste.
  6. Add little water/stock if you think too thick. Cook until the sauce thicken.
  7. Serve hot with rice/noodles/pasta/spätzle/mashed potato.

Vegetarian rendang and saffron rice.

vegetarian rendang and saffron rice

Vegetarian rendang and spätzle.

vegetarian rendang and spätzle


Saffron Rice

saffron rice


  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock for vegan)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • crispy shallots or other garnish (optional)

My methods :

  • Put one cup of water in small bowl and add saffron threads.

saffron threads

  • In medium pot, pour stock.
  • When start to boil, add turmeric powder and saffron water, stir well to dissolve.
  • Add rice and salt then bring to boil.
  • After boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let cook in low heat until the liquid absorbed about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Use a fork to fluff the rice. Cover.
  • Let sit over the stove.
  • Before service, fluff the rice and sprinkle with crispy shallots or other garnish (if using).

saffron rice

Selamat makan !



3 comments on “Vegetarian Rendang and Saffron rice

  • Hi! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!


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