Monday, May 28, 2012

Vegan Martabak - Indonesian Savory Stuffed Pan Fried Bread

Baked martabak filled with spiced soy meat and scrambled tofu.  Served with spicy pickled cucumbers and mint chutney.

One of my blog readers asked me for this post after reading my blog of Vegan Martabak Manis - Indonesian Sweet Stuffed Pancake.  I finally have the time to post this veganized Indonesian snack.  This is another dish called Martabak but the savory kind.  Martabak, Murtabak or Mutabbaq is originally from Saudi Arabia but it has spread as street foods in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Originally, it is made of minced mutton, garlic, onions, green onions, and a lot of eggs but I veganized it to use ground tvp  or veggie burger bits or soy crumbles and scrambled tofu. The soy meat is spiced with chili, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, and coriander (Arabic/Indian spices).    I used a lot of cilantro/parsley and green onions for the herbs.   I served it with spicy pickled fresh cucumber(called Acar in Indonesia) and mint chutney.

This is another popular Indonesian street food.  I ate this often in my growing up years.  We always bought it from a street vendor since it was cheap and it was hard to make at home.  We could have not made it the way the vendor made it.  It required a special flat and large griddle (such as the Mongolian BBQ's large and  flat griddle).  It also required a special skill to make the very thin dough.  You will see that it is very exciting to watch the martabak vendor making this savory dish.  This is one of the youtube videos showing the real street vendor making it: Martabak Telur (egg Martabak) which is the kind without the meat, eggs only.  The vendor kneaded the dough and made it very thin (as thin as phyllo dough) and threw it to a hot oil.  He then added the filling and folded the thin dough over and over (mutabbaq means fold).  As you can see that this dish is super greasy.  I can't believe I used to eat something like that.

This version below that  I made is vegan and much healthier. I don't think I can go back eating this dish from the street again.  It is so greasy and unhealthy.  I tried hard to make it healthier at home.   I have 2 options in making it healthier: 1) bake it (as pictured above) which is the healthiest and 2) pan fried it (as pictured below) which is less healthy but it is very delicious as anything fried with oil is usually delicious.  I used grape seed oil and my oil was clean and fresh.  I would not eat anything fried using dirty oil such as what the food vendor in the youtube used.

Pan fried with oil martabak. Served with spicy pickled cucumbers and mint chutney.
The first version, the baked one, I used Phyllo Pastry Dough for the wrap.  For the 2nd version, pan fried with oil, I used whole wheat tortilla or wrap.  I used Rudi's Organic Bakery 7-Grain Flax Wrap  If you prefer a gluten free one, I believe such products are available such as: Ivory Teff Wraps from La Tortilla Factory or Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas.

Vegan Martabak - Indonesian Savory Stuffed Pan Fried Bread
Makes 6-8 martabak pockets/packages
Note: see the variations for martabak filling at the end of the recipe.

Scrambled Tofu:
14 oz firm tofu, water packed, drained
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Oil to pan fry (grape seed oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil), 2-3 tsp
  1. Make the scrambled tofu first by draining the firm tofu completely.  Crumble with your hands into a bowl.
  2. Add all the spices and mix thoroughly into the crumbled tofu.
  3. Drizzle about 2-3 tsp oil onto a hot flat frying pan.  Add spiced crumbled tofu.
  4. Pan fry for 15 to 20 minutes until  all the water from the tofu evaporated and crumbled tofu is brown some and dry.  Set aside and let it cool.
Martabak Filling:
1 cup chopped leeks, the white part only
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 to 2 fresh green chili or red chili, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 small tomato, chopped
12 oz frozen Boca Crumbles
Note: Other kind of soy crumbles can be used such as Lightlife Smart Ground, Gimme Lean Beef Style, or reconstituted tvp
1/2 tsp salt, only if the soy crumbles are not salty
Note: if using reconstituted tvp, add several tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari
2-3 tsp oil
From top left, clockwise: chopped green onion, chopped parsley, scrambled tofu, chopped chili, and chopped leeks.

  1. Heat oil in a shallow frying pan.  Add leeks, chilies, garlic, and ginger. Saute for a few minutes until soft. 
  2. Add turmeric and combine.  Then, add cumin seeds, garam masala, and coriander.  Stir fry a few more minutes.
  3. Add chopped tomato and saute until the juices from the tomato are evaporated.
  4. Then, add the soy crumble/tvp.  Break the crumble with a spatula.  Combine all the ingredients thoroughly.  The filling has to be kind of dry.  Continue to pan fry until all the liquid and juices evaporated (15 minutes or so).
  5. Add the parsley or cilantro and all the green onions.  Taste and add salt if necessary. Combine and take it off heat.
  6. Set it aside and let it cool before assembling the martabak.
1/2 pkg. Phyllo Pastry Dough (follow the instructions in the box to thaw and to save the rest)
1/2 pkg.  Whole Wheat Tortilla or Wrap (about 9 or 10 inch diameter), make sure that it is pliable and not too thick. Use the kind that can be made into a burrito

Oil to brush on Phyllo or more oil to pan fry.

Baked Martabak (version 1):
  1. Combine scrambled tofu and martabak filling above in a bowl.
  2. Take 3 layers of phyllo dough onto a cutting board and cut into a 9 or 10 inch square (meanwhile make sure the rest of the phyllo dough is covered tightly or else it will dry up).   Take a brush and brush a thin layer of oil on 1st layer, top with the 2nd layer and brush a thin layer of oil, and then top with the 3rd layer.
  3. Scoop some filling (about 3/4 cup) onto the layered phyllo dough and wrap it like a package.
  4. Brush with oil and turn over the bundle and brush with more oil.
  5. Continue with the rest of the phyllo pastry and the filling.
  6. Preheat oven to 400F.  Bake martabak packages on an ungreased cookie pan for 30-45 minutes or until brown.  Serve warm.
Martabak, wrapped into a package and brushed with oil.
Turn it over and brush with more oil before it is baked.

Pan Fried Martabak (version 2):
  1. Combine scrambled tofu and martabak filling above in a bowl.
  2. For each whole wheat tortilla, scoop filling on to the tortilla and wrap into a package such as pictured above (the one with phyllo).  Do not brush with oil. Use water to glue the seams together and carefully lay each package flat with the seams on the bottom. 
  3. Continue to make the packages with each whole wheat tortilla and all the filling.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 inch of oil into a cast iron or heavy duty frying pan.  Heat oil into 350 F.
  5. With the seams down, take each package and immerse carefully into the hot oil.  Flip to fry the other side.  Fry about 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until it is brown.
  6. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil.  Serve warm.
Spicy Pickled Cucumber or Acar

Spicy Pickled Cucumbers or Acar (can be made ahead of time)
1 1/2 cup chopped English Cucumber
1 fresh red chili, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp white vinegar
  1. Combine chopped cucumber with salt and sugar.  Add chopped fresh chili, combine.
  2. Add white vinegar.  Set aside for 1 to 2 hours before using (keep in the fridge).

Mint chutney

Mint Chutney(can be made ahead of time)
2 cups cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 to 2 green chilies, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves shallot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
juice of 1 fresh lemon
  1. Combine parsley/cilantro, mint, green chilies, shallots, salt, and sugar in a food processor.
  2. Process until all ingredients are finely chopped.
  3. Take the processed ingredients into a bowl.
  4. Add lemon juice and combine thoroughly.
  5. Set aside for 1 to 2 hours before using (keep in the fridge).

Variations to the fillings of martabak:
  • For more 'eggy' version, double the scrambled tofu so there are more scrambled tofu than the 'meat' filling. 
  • Use the scrambled tofu only (double the amount above) for the filling and use green onions, cilantro/parsley and the filling spices(without the extra turmeric, tomato and the soy crumbles).
Enjoy another Indonesian streed food, veganized!


Anonymous said...

wow, YUM! and those spicy pickled cucumbers look fabulous! thanks for sharing!

Carole said...

Hi there. I was wondering whether you would like to link this in to Food on Friday: Chillies and other spicy stuff. This is the link. You did some time ago link in a great dish to Food on Friday: Asian Food. I now realize that I haven't been following your blog. Sorry about that. I have signed up to follow now. It would be great if you followed Carole's Chatter back. Have a super week.

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