Lontong sayur Betawi: hard-boiled rice with vegetable curry

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Lontong sayur Betawi is a traditional dish of hard-boiled rice with vegetable curry from Jakarta region. It was one of the Indonesian dishes that I grew up having it so often for breakfast. Yes, for breakfast. I remember when I was a little girl, I used to get excited whenever we visited my auntie who lived in the northern part of Jakarta. Because there was a food stall near her house that sold a very yummy lontong sayur, and we used to have to queue to buy it. 

And when I was at Uni in Bandung (West Java), there used to be a food stall that did lontong sayur Betawi next to our campus. So obviously, I was one of their regular customers. In fact, I used to have breakfast there almost every day 😄. 

Therefore, when I moved to the UK, lontong sayur was one of the Indonesian foods that I really missed and that I put effort to learn to make.

Lontong sayur Betawi is vegetable curry with hard-boiled rice from Jakarta region

There are many versions of lontong sayur in Indonesia. Every region has its own way of cooking it and uses different ingredients. 

But in essence, lontong sayur is vegetable curry cooked in coconut milk that you eat with lontong, which is hard-boiled rice. 

The recipe that I’m sharing here is Lontong Sayur Betawi. Betawi is an alias for Jakarta. 

Just like my other Indonesian food recipes, this one also belongs to my mom. But I tweaked it and made some changes so that it’s easy for me to make.

Originally, the dish uses raw papaya or labu siamchayoteKacang Panjangyardlong, and potatoes. But I use green beans and potatoes most of the time. Because it’s not easy for me to buy those exotic vegetables near my house. Although I can get them in Asian shops or Chinatown here in the UK, I often feel lazy to go far just to buy them. Maybe because I don’t like shopping anyway.

Having said that, I’ve tried cooking with raw papaya and labu siam/ chayote. They both made a lovely Lontong Sayur. But, green beans are equally delicious IF I get the recipe right. So, it all depends on the way we cook as well. Not solely relies on the ingredients.

By all means, you can choose whichever vegetables you’d like to use. 

How to make lontong

As for the lontong – hard-boiled rice – it’s actually rice that wrapped in cylinder shape of banana leaf and boiled until the rice firm-hard. Some people also use ketupat which is hard-boiled rice that wrapped in palm leaves. The leaves are woven into diamond shapes. If you google it, you may find some people explain that lontong or ketupat is a compressed rice cake. I don’t. Because there are cakes that are made with rice among Indonesian cuisines. So I personally prefer to call and explain it as hard-boiled rice. Nevertheless, they’re all the same thing.

Now, when it comes to making a proper lontong with a banana leaf here in the UK, it is actually possible to do so. Because I can get banana leaves at the Asian shops in Chinatown. However, the price is crazily expensive. Not to mention the distance to get there. So again, to make my life easier, I tried to find an alternative to make lontong.

I’ve learned it by boiling prepacked Basmati boil-in-a-bag rice packets for about an hour in a pressure cooker or one hour and a half in a normal pot. When it’s done, your boil-in-a-bag rice will be soft to touch, but it will harden once it’s completely cool down.

The recipe:

Lontong sayur - Indonesian vegetable curry with hard-boiled rice cake called lontong

Lontong sayur Betawi

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A hearty vegetable dish cooked in coconut milk. Traditionally, it's enjoyed with ketupat or lontong (hard-boiled rice) for the festive season such Eid. It's also one of the traditional breakfast options in some parts of Indonesia, i.e. Jakarta, West Java, etc.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams Potatoes, cut in cubes.
  • 150 grams Raw papaya, grated. Or,
  • 150 grams Green beans, sliced. (see the note)
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped.
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp/ 4 gr Dried shrimp paste (preferably).
  • 1 tsp ground coriander.
  • 1 inch Galangal.
  • 1 Lemongrass, cut in one-inch pieces.
  • 2 Salam leaves.
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar/ dark muscovado sugar.
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt (or according to taste).
  • 1 can Good quality of coconut milk.
  • Water.
  • 1 tbsp Cooking oil.

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a cooking pot. 
  2. Fry the onion until it looks translucent and smells fragrant.
  3. Add in the garlic, fry further for a few minutes then put the coriander, galangal, lemongrass, salam leaves, and shrimp paste (if using).
  4. After a minute or two, add in the salt, brown sugar, coconut milk, a can of water using the coconut milk can, and fish sauce (if using fish sauce instead).
  5. Stir it and put the lid on to cook at medium heat until it’s boiling. 
  6. When the coconut milk is boiling, you can put the potatoes in and leave it to cook further for about 5 minutes.
  7. Then add in the raw papaya or green beans in the curry.
  8. This time turn the heat down and cook at low heat until all vegetables are cooked.
  9. Pour the vegetable curry over the lontong.
  10. Enjoy.

Notes

  • As I mentioned above, the original dish uses grated raw papaya, or labu siam/ chayote, kacang Panjang/ yardlong beans, and potatoes. But if it’s not convenient for you to get them, you can substitute them with green beans and potatoes. Just replace the number of green veggies with green beans. If you use yardlong beans/ kacang Panjang, cut them in ½ inch pieces. 
  • Shrimp paste has a very strong pungent smell that some people may dislike. And some products have a stronger smell and flavour. So you may want to go easy on using it. Try to put little by little rather than follow the recipe straightaway.
  • If you can’t get the shrimp paste, you can substitute with 2 teaspoons of fish sauce (see the note for vegetarian/ vegan option).
  • If you can’t get shrimp paste, you can use fish sauce. I’ve made lontong sayur with fish sauce. It was equally nice as the one with shrimp paste, though the smell was subtly different. But it was still sea smell 😊.
  • For a vegetarian/ vegan option, you can use vegan fish sauce.
  • Traditionally, we enjoy the dish with boiled egg, kerupuk/ prawn crackers, and garnished with fried onions. But as a festive food such as Eid’s feast, we have lontong sayur Betawi with semur daging (slow-cooked meat in spicy sweet soy sauce), beef rendang (slow-cooked beef in spicy coconut milk), sambal goreng hati (liver cooked in spicy coconut milk), and/or Ayam goreng (Indonesian fried chicken).
  • However, I often have lontong sayur with Ayam kecap (sweet soy chicken), or krecek ati Ayam (chicken liver braised in soy sauce) as shown in the picture.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1 Amount Per Serving Calories 240Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 1mgSodium 606mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 2gSugar 8gProtein 3g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

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