Sayur Lodeh. Javanese Vegetable Curry

Good Monday to you all. How was your weekend? Hopefully you had a more peaceful weekend than the weekend before. We are still aware of the pandemic that is prevalent around us and I am still in support of the peaceful protests that have invigorated our nation.  As we continue to be mindful and aware of racial inequalities and injustices that happen on a daily basis in this country, I humbly admit that I was grateful for a more peaceful weekend.  After a week of heart wrenching stories surrounding the reasons for the protests combined with the sweltering heat that we had in the Bay Area, both the news and our temperatures cooled down by Friday.  Our weather was spectacular by Friday and by the weekend our temperatures were back in the cool 60s and 70s, perfect for gardening.  I planted more veggie seedlings that I picked up from my friend Veena. Veena has an amazing garden here in my neighborhood and I’ve featured her beautiful garden multiple times on my blogAmong the veggie seedlings I got from her this time were green beans, pumpkin seedlings, watermelon, and squash plants. I can’t wait to see how these plants do up in my veggie patch.

With all the anticipation of fresh summer veggies at the farmer’s markets and the promise of many garden vegetables to harvest, a recipe for a hearty vegetable stew seems very appropriate right now. 

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To start the week off on a healthy note today I would like to share a recipe for a vegetable stew called sayur lodeh.  This stew seems very appropriate right now as it was created at a time when Indonesia was in the middle of a plague, and to bring the people of his country together the Sultan of Indonesia asked them to cook sayur lodeh together to ward off the virus that was overpowering his country. 

The auspicious sayur lodeh

According to legend, when the plague came to the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java, the sultan ordered his citizens to cook sayur lodeh and stay home for 49 days. The plague ended. And so began a practice that continues to this day.  But the most important thing about the sultan’s command to cook sayur lodeh was that it was an appeal to social solidarity.  An entire city cooking the same thing at the same time creates a powerful sense of togetherness.  The sayur lodeh is not an individual thing, but rather it’s a response to a misfortune that looks like it will overpower everyone.”   from culinary roots on bbctravel.com

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The perfect quarantine dish

These days sayur lodeh has become an even more popular dish in South East Asia as the perfect quarantine food since it evokes positivity and solidarity and uses whatever vegetables are in season along with readily available pantry staples such as canned coconut milk and spices.

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Sayur lodeh a simple vegetable stew

There are many variations of sayur lodeh which are cooked all throughout the Malay Archipelago including in places like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, but one common theme runs through all their recipes and that is this –  Sayur lodeh is a simple vegetable curry made from seven vegetables cooked in a spicy coconut milk base.  The health benefits of sayur lodeh come from the use of easy-to-obtain seasonal vegetables and spices like coriander and turmeric which are known to contain anti-inflammatory qualities.

Use in season vegetables for a delicious coconut based stew

The beauty of sayur lodeh is in its versatility as it uses whatever veggies you have available.  In my version I used veggies that are in season right now which include broccoli, leeks, spinach, cabbage and carrots.  This stew can be made with any combination of veggies, try it with eggplant, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans and peas too.  And now let me share with you a delicious curry made with all things good to make us feel good and eat healthy these days.

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Sayur Lodeh Javanese Vegetable Curry
with inspiration from Javanese Sayur Lodeh Vegetable Curry on bbc.com
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups broccoli
  • 4 cups spinach finely cut
  • 2 cups cabbage finely cut
  • 1 carrot cut into slices
  • 2 green chillies seeds removed to keep it mild
  • 6 shallots or 1 large onion finely cut
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1cm galangal or 1 inch piece of ginger thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 1/2 block of extra firm tofu or tempeh
  • 1 100ml can coconut milk
  • Oil
  • 1 lime
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  • Puree garlic, shallots, coriander powder, and sugar. Add 1-2 tbsp oil if needed to make the paste.

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  • In a large pot steam the veggies until they are tender. Add a little water to keep the veggies moist. Set aside.

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  • While the veggies are steaming, in another pan warm 1 tbsp oil. Add the onion mixture, red and green chili and turmeric and fry in the oil for about 2 minutes until the raw onion fragrance is gone.
  • Next add the steamed vegetables. Add the can of coconut milk, 1 bay leaf, ginger slices, salt, and tofu.  Bring the curry to a low boil while stirring gently about 5 minutes.

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  • Sayur Lodeh is ready.

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  • Garnish with fresh cilantro and squeeze of lime.  Serve over rice.

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Wishing you healthy eating with lots of vegetables.  Be safe and be well and have a good week everyone.

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