Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegan Gudeg(Javanese Young Jack Fruit Curry with Tofu and Tempeh)

Gudeg with Tempeh and Tofu (the triangle shapes on the left)
This is  Indonesian Young Jack Fruit Curry called Gudeg.  It is a famous and traditional dish from Yogyakarta, Central Java.  The color and looks of it is not that appetizing and fools people to pass it by in a potluck.  Hence, Javanese will recognize it right away and will dig into it.  The savory aroma of the dish itself will attract people to try it.  It contains coconut milk, palm sugar, and spices such as coriander, cumin, galanga, tamarind, Indian bay leaves, and candlenuts or kemiri.  I served this dish with sambal tomat (spicy tomato chutney), tomato and cucumber slices, and rice on a bright yellow plate to make it more appetizing.

Yogyakarta is a city near Borobudur, a world known Buddhist temple built in 9th century.  Tourists stop by and stay at Yogyakarta so they can visit Borobudur.   Most of them will have the chance to try Gudeg.  Traditionally,  this dish contains chicken, boiled eggs, and young jack fruit.  I decided to veganize it by using tofu and tempeh.  It is served with steamed long grain rice or nasi (in Indonesian).  We always call it Nasi Gudeg  when ordering in a restaurant.

Cooking Gudeg may take hours and hours on a very low heat and it may take days.  The spices and coconut milk need to be absorbed into the ingredients and Javanese will cook the gudeg until the young jack fruit turn dark brown and that the dish is dry.  Although some people prefer it more saucey (it is optional  to add more coconut milk or broth).  I don't have time to cook Gudeg for hours and hours on a stove and afraid to leave the curry cooking on a stove unattended.   I modernized the cooking method by using a crock-pot.  It took about 14 HOURS and I had to suffer the long hours smelling the savory aroma that made me hungry.

I only can get the young jack fruit in a can in an Asian and Indian market.   We share similar ingredients with Indian cooking so most of the time I can go to a small neighborhood Indian market to find the ingredients.  I can buy young jack fruit, tamarind pulp, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, shallots, bay leaves, and coconut milk in an Indian market.  However, palm sugar, candlenuts or kemiri, and galanga may only be available in other Asian markets such as Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese.  You may substitute palm sugar with dark brown sugar, candlenuts or kemiri with macadamia nuts, and order galanga powder from an on-line market if you cannot find it fresh (use sparingly about  1/2 to 1 tsp of powder).  BTW, galanga is not the same as ginger.

Below are pictures of young jack fruit and tamarind pulp:
Young Jack Fruit in a can soaked in brine
Tamarind sold as in block or pulp wrapped tightly  in plastic

Here are Gudeg Spices:
From left corner, clockwise: Shallots, Bay Leaves, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Dark Palm Sugar, Galanga, Tamarind Pulp, Candlenuts or Kemiri, and Garlic cloves in the middle

Vegan Gudeg( Javanese Young Jack Fruit Curry with Tofu and Tempeh) 


2 cans (20 oz each) Young Jack Fruit, drained, rinsed, and squeezed water out
8 oz super firm tofu, cut into triangle or rectangle shape
8 oz tempeh, cut into triangle or rectangle shape
2 cups coconut milk or light coconut milk

5 shallots, peeled
10 candlenuts or kemiri
10 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1/2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
1 inch square tamarind pulp, soaked in 1/3 hot water until soft
2 slices galanga or laos (1 inch slice each)
2 Indian bay leaves

  1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds on a low heat  in a dry frying pan for 1-2 minute or until fragrant.  Keep stirring to avoid burning.  Set aside.
  2. Slice jack fruit, lengthwise, following the grain. Set aside.
  3. Put shallots, garlic, candlenuts or kemiri,  toasted coriander and cumin seeds,  and salt in a mini food processor or blender.  Add a little water or vegetable oil and process until it becomes a paste.
    Note: Traditionally, this is done in a mortar and pestle.
  4.  Stir fry the spice paste in a wok or frying pan on a medium heat.  Keep stirring and add water or oil if it starts to stick to the pan.  This process takes about 10 minutes (it is similar process when frying the spice paste in Korean Mushroom and Tofu Stew).  Eventually, the spice paste turns a bit darker and it also becomes aromatic.
  5. Add coconut milk, palm sugar, bay leaves, galanga and tamarind water and softened tamarind pulps (check for seeds and remove).  Stir to combine and let it simmer.
  6. Add tofu and tempeh into the curry sauce and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  7. Take tofu and tempeh out of the curry sauce and place them on the bottom of the crock-pot.
  8. Then, add cut up young jack fruit  on top of them and, finally,  on top, spread all of the curry sauce including the herbs.  Set crock-pot on LOW and let it cook for 12-14 hours.  You can stir it once but I recommend keeping the lid closed during the cooking process.
  9. Serve with long grain steamed rice.
Cutting up young jack fruit
Stir frying spice paste
Simmering tofu and tempeh in curry sauce


Miyoko said...

Just discovering your blog! So interesting and full of flavors I am not a master of! I'll most definitely try some of your recipes. Jack fruit? I've often wondered about things like this. THanks!

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