Sayur Curry – Vegan Cabbage Curry

This sayur curry is a delicious medium difficult vegan dish. I make it today with broccoli and white cabbage but you can easily replace this with green or savoy cabbage.

I use tempeh instead of tofu, because I still have some tempeh left. It works really well. I like the way the tempeh soaks up the delicious curry broth in this sayur curry.

This sayur is ready in 40 minutes and enough for 2-3 people.

Sayur Curry II #108 from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 118.


  • 1/2 kg of cabbage (white, green or savoy cabbage)
  • 1/2 block bean curd
  • 3/4 liter liter of stock (leftovers or made from stock cubes)
  • 1/6 block santen
  • 1 tablespoon soaked in lukewarm water, then cut into 2 cm lengths of laksa.


  • 3 tablespoons of chopped onions
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of sambal ulek
  • 1 teaspoon of galangal
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of Javanese sugar
  • 4 roasted kemiris (candle nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon of asem water, made from asem half the size of a walnut
  • salt
  1. Bring the stock to a boil.
  2. Grind the herbs together and add them to the stock together with the block of santen.
  3. Let this mixture steep for about fifteen minutes.
  4. Cut the cabbage into large pieces and the tofu into cubes of +/- 2 cm and cook them in the broth.
  5. After about 10 minutes add the asem water and the well-squeezed laksa.
  6. Then let the sayur simmer for a few more minutes.

That’s a whole bunch of ingredients. I use powdered herbs, as in Beb’s recipe, but fresh galangal wouldn’t be out of place in this dish either.


I soak the laksa (noodle) in lukewarm water. I’ve bought big rice noodles. You can easily leave out the noodles, I think. The laksa doesn’t add much to the dish, in my humble opinion. Maybe if you use more laksa than the recipe prescribes, it will be more visible in this sayur curry.


For the bumbu, I start roasting the candle nuts (kemiri). Otherwise, these nuts are slightly poisonous. You can also get kemiri nut paste; ready to use from a jar. These fat candle nuts make for a creamy bumbu.

I chop up the onion and the garlic into quite small pieces. This makes it easier to grind this together into a paste in the mortar (cobek).

Coconut broth

I don’t use a block santen, but coconut milk. Because I have some leftover. I pour about 350 ml of coconut milk into the pan and dilute it with some water until the total is 3/4 liter.

In this I add a block of vegetable stock and the freshly grinded bumbu. Later I will taste if my sayur curry needs more salt. The bumbu also contains salt, so it is important to keep taste once in a while. I bring this to the boil.

Cabbage and tempeh

The vegetables and tofu (in my case tempeh) can be cut into (coarse) pieces. Today I am really looking forward to broccoli so I replace part of my white cabbage with broccoli.

When the stock just simmers very gently, the vegetables can be added. It seems like the broth is not enough, but it is. The vegetables will be half boiled and half steamed this way when I place the lid on the pan.

I now add the asem (tamarind). This provides a slightly sweet-sour taste. The laksa can also go into the pan.

I let this simmer for about 6 to 8 minutes. Then I check whether the broccoli is al dente. I really like crunchy vegetables. When my broccoli is al dente, I turn off the gas. They will get a bit more tender while waiting in the broth to be eaten.

Maybe this sayur curry is better with tempeh than with tofu. I love tempeh and since I think the laksa doesn’t add much, the tempeh totally compensates for that. The cubed fermented soybeans completely absorb the spicy coconut stock. Delicious!

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