Pickled Onions from Timor

zuur van uitjes

Pickled onions from Timor are really easy to make. Pickled dishes are eaten in Indonesia as a condiment next to spicy sambal or a delicious serundeng.


I make acar myself a lot. My favorite is acar ketimun; pickled cucumber. I love to combine acar with a spicy rendang (Indonesian beef stew) or warm sambal goreng tofu.

These pickled onions from Timor or acar as it is called in Indonesia, are, due to the large amount of vinegar, easily kept for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Maybe even longer, but I haven’t tested that yet.

This recipe is enough for a liter jar of pickled onions. It is ready in 30 minutes .

Pickled Onions from Timor (Atjar Bawang Timor) #428 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 346.

  • 1/2 kg shallots or other small onions
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 bottle of vinegar


  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions
  • 3 chopped up garlic cloves
  • 3 roasted kemiries
  • 1 teaspoon kunjit
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • salt
  1. Peel the onions, do not cut them but sprinkle with salt and let them drain for a few hours.
  2. Rub the chopped onions with the garlic, the roasted kemiries, the kunjit and ginger powder into a paste.
  3. Sauté this in the oil until the onions in the paste turn yellow
  4. Add the vinegar and cook for a while.
  5. Allow this mix to cool.
  6. Dry the onions with a cloth, place them in a jam jar and pour the herb vinegar over it.

Ingredients Atjar Bawang Timor, such as onions, vinegar, kemirinoten and sambal

My shallots are a bit large, but Beb indicates that they need not to be cut. So I leave them like this ;-).

Kemiri nuts of candle nuts are very fatty nuts that you must roast first (without oil in a non-stick pan) otherwise they are slightly toxic. In English these nuts are called candlenuts. I buy kemiri nuts at my local Asian store.


First I make the bumbu; the spice mixture. I rub chopped onionsgarlic and kemiries with the kunjit and ginger powder in my cobek (mortar).

Herbal paste or bumbu for the atjar from Timor

The bumbu needs to be stir-fried in two tablespoons of oil. This way the flavors will become more intense.

When the bumbu is well cooked and the onions in the spice mix are tender and shiny, I add the vinegar . I choose a full flavored vinegar like apple cider vinegar or herb vinegar. This will give my acar more depth in flavor.

Boiling a pan of herbs and vinegar for an Indian spice vinegar

Now I dry the onions, place them in a big jar and pour the cooled herb vinegar over it. I leave my pickeled onions from Timor in my fridge for a few days to give the onions some time to suck up all the lovely vinegar flavors.

I serve my acar chopped up as it is or on top of a peanut sauce. You can also add fresh herbs just before serving, like coriander or parsley.

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