Masak Habang from Bandjarmasin

Masak Habang

Masak Habang

Beef needs time to cook. For my masak habang from Bandjarmasin I buy beautiful Irish beef and let it simmer for 2,5 hours. The package says 4 hours, but I think that’s too long. After 2,5 hours this masak habang is super tender and the sauce is well reduced.

This dish is – according to Beb Vuyk – from Bandjarmasin; the capital of South Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.


After some searching online I learn that ‘habang’ means red. It refers to the color of the dish that is dark red because of the chilies. Palm sugar is also a favorite ingredient in Bandjarmasin dishes.

Less meat

We eat drastically less meat nowadays because it is better for our planet. When we eat meat, we opt for high-quality, eco-friendly meat.

Beef Stew  – (Masak Habang from Bandjarmasin) # 144 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 148.


  • 1/2 kg of beef
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1/4 l of water


  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onions
  • 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of sambal terasi
  • 3 roasted kemirie (candle nuts)
  • 1 teaspoon of Javanese sugar
  • piece of asem the size of a walnut (tamarind)
  • salt
  1. Cut the meat into strips of +/- 4 cm thickness.
  2. Make a paste with asem, salt and some water and marinate the meat strips.
  3. Rub the onions, garlic, sambal, kemirie (candle nuts) and sugar together and sauté this.
  4. Add the meat and finish with the water.
  5. Let this simmer until the meat is tender.

N.B. Remove the seeds and membranes of the asem before rubbing together with the other herbs.

The ingredients look like I have been back to the jungle  and came home with these spices. I had some fresh tamarind (asem) left, so I’ve opened those beans and remove the seeds and threads.

Kemiri nuts are very fatty nuts that have to be roasted just before they are used, otherwise they are slightly poisonous. I simply roast them without oil in a pan with non-stick coating (teflon). Kemiri nuts ensure that the bumbu turns into a nice and thick paste.

Sambal Trassi

Sambal trassi is very easy to make yourself. That is why I finely chop a pepper and add half a spoon of trassi with some salt. This is how I make a sambal trassi on the spot. Check this video:


I cut the meat in long strips and I rub them with the tamarind, salt and water mix.

For this masak habang (500 grams of beef) I use a teaspoon of salt in total.

I rub the onions, garlic, sambal, kemiries and sugar into a paste and fry this. I had some big onion chuncks left, so I add that too.

It smells wonderful in the house. The onions are tender and yellow. So I can add the meat.

I carefully place the beef in the hot pan. By the way, I use a cast iron pan. It is very suitable for stew. The meat only gets more tender easily.

I leave the beef for 2 minutes to get some color on them and, then I add the 1/4 liter of water. I boil the water first, otherwise everything cools down again.

The amount of water is exactly enough for my 500 grams of meat. Slowly I bring this to the boil. The first 1,5 hours I leave the lid on. I only need a little energy to keep it simmering.

At the end (the last hour) I leave the lid off, so the sauce slowly thickens until it sticks beautifully to the meat.

I love this beef. It is amazingly render and full of flavor because of the trassi. It also tastes sweet-sour because of the sugar and tamarind.

We eat our masak habang with white rice and a vegetable dish of stir-fried zucchini. This masak habang is also delicious with an acar and rudjak.

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