Home > Ketupat Sayur (Rice Cake and Vegetables in Coconut Milk Sauce)

Ketupat Sayur (Rice Cake and Vegetables in Coconut Milk Sauce)

Posting Date: 06/22/16

Ketupat Sayur (Rice Cake and Vegetables in Coconut Milk Sauce)

Ketupat Sayur (Rice Cake and Vegetables in Coconut Milk Sauce) is a staple dish in Indonesia during Eid ul-Fitr. The dish is normally served with other dishes, such as Opor Ayam (Chicken in Coconut Milk Sauce), Sambal Goreng Ati/Ampela (Chicken Livers and Gizzards in Spicy Chili Cocount Sauce), and Semur Telur (Hard Boiled Eggs in Sweet Sauce). There are many variations of ingredients used in Ketupat Sayur. Most people use chayote squash and green beans. However, I have seen some recipes that use long beans instead of green beans. Some may use green papaya instead of chayote. In addition to that, others may add tofu and green jackfruit to the list of the ingredients. For this dish, I am using the ingredients that my mom always used when I grew up, i.e. chayote and green beans. The recipe is based on her recipe and in her recipe, she used dried shrimp and not shrimp paste since I have seen people use shrimp paste instead. If you are not familiar with dried shrimp, it has strong flavor and smell and so has shrimp paste. A little goes a long way. If you think you may not like it, you can either reduce the amount used or skip it altogether, especially if you are vegetarian. The ingredients originally consist of red chili pepper and Thai red chili pepper. The red color in the red chili peppers makes the dish look red and thus, it is more appealing to the eyes. I cannot find red chili pepper in my Asian stores and thus, I substitute it with red bell pepper. It gives the red color needed. For that reason, do not replace red bell pepper with green bell pepper. In addition, I sometimes cannot find Thai red chili pepper or Thai green pepper. This ingredient adds heat to the dish. Because of that, I substitute it with sambal oelek. As the name implies, the dish is served with ketupat (rice cake). In Indonesia, rice is the staple food for almost all areas. It can be served as is or in a different format. In ketupat, the rice is packed inside woven palm leaf package. The woven palm leaf package is shaped like a diamond and raw rice is filled in it. It is then immersed and cooked in water for an hour or so until the rice is cooked and set in the package. Once it is set, the package is cut open and the rice is cut to pieces according to your preferred size. I don't have an image of how ketupat looks like in Indonesia but you can search the internet for the image. I found recently that there is ketupat subsitute sold in Asian stores. Instead of using palm leaf, the rice is cooked inside plastic bag. It is made in Malaysia and the finished rice is exactly like ketupat minus the diamond shape. If you can find it in your Asian stores, you can use it. Otherwise, you can serve it with regular cooked rice.

My mom always served this dish with 3 other dishes, Opor Ayam, Sambal Goreng Ampela, and Semur Telur (Hard Boiled Eggs and Potatoes in Sweet Coconut Milk Sauce). To me, Ketupat Sayur is good as is if you want simple easy food. However, if you have time, you can make the other dishes as well. Whenever I am pressed with time, I replace Semur Telur, which is Hard Boiled Eggs in Sweet Coconut Sauce, with regular hard boiled eggs.

This recipe serves 4 people.


  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced lengthwise into 2
  • 7 pieces dried shrimp. Omit to make it vegetarian.
  • 1 medium size shallot, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 pieces candlenuts, halved
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, quartered, or 5 red chili pepper, deseeded and halved. Do not substitute red bell pepper with green bell pepper. Red bell pepper is used to get red color so that it becomes more appealing.
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or 1 Thai chili pepper. You can add more Thai chili pepper or sambal oelek if you like it hot. I use Huy Fong brand for sambal oelek since they don't add shrimp paste or garlic to it and thus, I got the chili pepper I need without any other flavors I don't want.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 64 green beans or 4 cups sliced green beans, sliced diagonally. Do not slice it too thin.
  • 2 chayote squash, peeled and sliced to match sticks with about 1/6" thick. Do not slice it too thin since we don't want it mushy.
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • fried onions
  • Optional: shrimp chips. Skip it to make it vegetarian.
  • Optional: ketupat (rice cake)


  1. If using ketupat, cook it according to the package directions. While cooking it, you can proceed to the next steps.
  2. If using dried shrimp, put dried shrimp in a small cup and boil some water in a kettle. Once the water is boiling, pour the water in the cup so that dried shrimp is completely immersed in the water. Leave it for 5 min. This will soften the shrimp. Drain the water. Set the shrimp aside.
  3. Add dried shrimp (if used), shallot, garlic, candlenuts, red bell pepper, and sambal oelek into a food processor. Process them until they becomes smooth paste.
  4. Heat vegetable oil on a pot. Add the paste into the pot and saute it until it becomes fragrant and cooked.
  5. Add green beans and chayotes into the pot. Stir fry them until they become tender crisp. Do not overcook them since we don't want them to be mushy.
  6. Add water and coconut milk into the pot and stir to mix it. Once boiling, add sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir the pot and add more sugar, salt, or pepper if needed. Stir the pot, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 15 min.
  7. Turn off the heat. Split into 4 bowls and top each bowl with fried onions, 1 slice of hard boiled egg, shrimp chips, and ketupat (if used).

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