Lontong sayur Betawi: hard-boiled rice with vegetable curry

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

Lontong Sayur

Lontong sayur is a dish consisting of hard-boiled rice (lontong) with vegetable curry. The curry is made with well-balanced spices cooked in coconut milk. It has a creamy and spicy taste that marries well with the rice cake, aka lontong.

This dish is often sought-after for breakfast. Though nowadays, you can enjoy it pretty much any time of the day. Because it is relatively filling thanks to the combo of lontong, veggies and spiced coconut milk.

And you can make this dish vegan if you omit the dried-shrimp paste or fish sauce in it. And substitute it with tamari.

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

Lontong Sayur Betawi Recipe

But in essence, lontong sayur is an Indonesian vegetable curry cooked in coconut milk that you eat with 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 for convenience and practicality.

What is Lontong?

Lontong is rice wrapped in banana leaves and shaped into a tube/ cylinder. It is then slowly boiled until the rice is mushy. When it cools down, the rice will be hardened. And when you open the wrapper, the hard-boiled rice will be shaped like a tube. 

The taste of lontong itself is simply like rice. But its texture is like firm tofu made with overcooked rice grains.

In Indonesia, there are two types of this hard-boiled rice cake. They are lontong and ketupat. They both have the same method of cooking that is boiling for a long hour until the grains are softened and mushy. 

The difference is, ketupat is wrapped in woven palm leaves and has a diamond shape. Traditionally, ketupat will be made for festive Eid celebrations. Therefore, you won’t find any sellers who sell ketupat wrappers outside the Eid season.  

How to make lontong

Now, it is possible to make a proper lontong with a banana leaf here in the UK. Because you can get banana leaves at the Asian shops in Chinatown. 

However, the price can be costly. 

So as an alternative, we can do it using a food-grade plastic bag. 

Fill the bag with rice up to a third of it and pierce it with skewers to make holes in the bag. You can also use pre-packaged Basmati boil-in-a-bag rice packets that you can get from supermarkets. 

Then boil the bags in plenty of water. You can do so in a pressure cooker for about one hour. Or, you can use a large cooking pot which takes about an hour and a half.

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. So leave it on a colander to make sure any excess moisture will be drained and evaporates.

If you want, I have a tutorial post here on how to make lontong without banana leaves that you can take a look at.

Flexible ingredients for Lontong Sayur

Traditionally, the vegetables in this curry dish are raw papaya or labu siam/ chayote, Kacang Panjang/ yardlong, and potatoes.

Although those items are available in the UK, it is not easy to find them. You may have to go to certain Asian shops as not all of them sell these veggies.

As an alternative, you can put green beans or broad beans and potatoes. They make an equally delicious Lontong Sayur if the spices are rightly balanced. And of course, it depends on the way we cook it as well. 

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

Top tips to make mouthwatering Lontong Sayur

  • Make sure you fry the spice paste until it is cooked and releases a delicious aroma. If needed, add more oil so the spice won’t go dry.
  • Terasi (dried shrimp paste) and fish sauce have salt in them. So you may want to add salt a little by little as you try the taste.

Ways to enjoy Indonesian vegetable curry with lontong

You’ll only need crispy fried onions, some kerupuk (prawn crackers) and sambal (homemade chilli sauce) as an addition when you enjoy your lontong sayur.

But, as a festive food such as Eid’s feast, you can 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.

Storing Matter

You can cook and prepare this lontong sayur for another day. If you plan to do so, don’t put the vegetables in the coconut milk. 

On the day you serve the dish, reheat the curry gravy until it is piping hot and boil the vegetables separately, drain and add them into the curry. 

However, if you want to make it in bulk and save it as a keeper, you can freeze it for up to 2 months. Take it out of the freezer the night before serving and leave it in the fridge/ refrigerator to thaw overnight. 

Reheat the vegetable curry until piping hot before serving. Once it has thawed, you must not refreeze. 

In the case of keeping some leftovers, the curry keeps well in the fridge/ refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. 

As for the lontong, you can keep and store them for the same period. Steam the lontong and let it cool down slightly before serving. 

More savoury street foods from Indonesia

If you enjoyed the post and find this Lontong Sayur Betawi recipe tempting, feel free to share the post and pin it. And don’t forget to check my other savoury street food recipes that you may like

Last but not least, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Yield: 6

Lontong sayur Betawi

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

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.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 200 grams potatoes, cut into small cubes.
  • 150 grams raw papaya, or Chayote grated.
  • 150 grams green beans, diagonally sliced.
  • 1-inch galangal.
  • 1 lemongrass, cut into one-inch pieces.
  • 2 salam leaves.
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar/ dark muscovado sugar.
  • 1 ½ tsp salt (or according to taste).
  • 1 can/ 400ml/ 14.07fl.oz coconut milk.
  • 400ml/ 14.97fl.oz water.
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
  • 2-3 red bird’s eye chillies, or 1 ½ teaspoon of Kashmiri red chilli powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried shrimp paste (terasi), optional (see the note), or
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce or tamari sauce for vegans.


  1. Put all the spice paste ingredients in a blender or a food processor, and process until it becomes a smooth paste. You can also use a pestle and mortar to pound into a paste. Set aside. 
  2. Heat the oil in a cooking pot. 
  3. Fry the spice paste until it releases an aroma.
  4. Add in the galangal, lemongrass, salam leaves, salt and brown sugar.
  5. After a minute or two, add in the coconut milk and water. And also fish sauce if used.
  6. Stir it well and put the lid on to cook at medium heat until it’s boiling. 
  7. When the coconut milk is boiling, you can put the potatoes in and leave it to cook further for about 5 minutes.
  8. Then add the raw papaya or green beans to the curry.
  9. This time turn the heat down and cook at low heat until all vegetables are cooked.
  10. Pour the vegetable curry over the lontong.


  • 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 available for you, 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 into ½ inch pieces. 
  • Choose baby potatoes, new potatoes or charlotte potatoes. Because they’re waxy, so they don’t go mushy when cooked in liquid. 
  • Shrimp paste has a very strong pungent smell that some people may dislike. And some products have an overpowering smell and flavour. So you may want to go easy on using it. Try to put it little by little rather than follow the recipe straightaway. And see for yourself if you need to add more.
  • If you can’t get shrimp paste, you can use fish sauce. I’ve made a lontong sayur with fish sauce. It was equally tasty like the one with shrimp paste, though the smell was subtly different. 
  • For a vegan option, you can use vegan fish sauce or just use tamari sauce.

Traditionally, we enjoy the dish with boiled egg, kerupuk/ prawn crackers, and garnished with fried onions.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


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.

Did you try the recipe?

Share how you like the recipe in the comments below and show a picture of your creation



  1. Nicole Satyadi Hough says:

    Hi!! So thankful I found this blog, I can’t wait to try this one out. Do you have any tips for cooking with banana leaves rather than the plastic bags? Terima kasih

    1. Hi, you can also use muslin cheesecloth that you stitch into pockets. I will post this new in new future. So please watch this space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.