Home > Sayur Bobor Bayam (Spinach in Coconut Milk Sauce)

Sayur Bobor Bayam (Spinach in Coconut Milk Sauce)

Posting Date: 05/17/20

Sayur Bobor Bayam (Spinach in Coconut Milk Sauce)

Sayur Bobor Bayam (Spinach in Coconut Milk Sauce) originated in Java island in Indonesia. There are 2 versions of Sayur Bobor Bayam, Central Java (Jawa Tengah) and East Java (Jawa Timur). The East Java version tends to be saltier than the Central Java. In the recipe, I let you decide if you want to use 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of salt or make it to taste. The 1.5 teaspoon salt is more balanced and less salty.

In Indonesia, Indonesian mothers are always told that fresh spinach is healthy and inexpensive to feed their children. So, Indonesian mothers always try to make spinach dishes for their children. This dish is one of them. Growing up, my mom used to make this dish. Instead of using red bell pepper, she used red chili pepper with the seeds removed. This added color and flavor. Since it is hard to find red chili pepper in the stores, I use red bell pepper instead. I use spinach, red bell pepper, and chayote in the recipe. You can find chayote in Asian stores but some regular grocery stores now sell it in the produce section. However, if you cannot find it, you can use other vegetables, such as green beans, long beans, corn kernels, or even eggplant because the dish is so versatile. My mom sometimes added sliced white mushrooms. You could also add Thai basil on top to add more flavor.

The dish tastes slightly like Thai curry because of some of the spices used. However, it tastes a lot milder because turmeric and chili peppers are not used. Even though it tastes a lot milder than curry, the sauce is still very tasty and thus, this is a good recipe for cooking spinach because spinach is very bland. The sauce adds flavor to the spinach which is a good way to make children eat spinach.

In Indonesia, the dish is served with rice and other dishes, such as fried tofu, fried tempeh, fried salted fish, etc. Even though this dish is traditionally vegetarian but some people might use shrimp paste in the spice paste ingredients to add more flavor. So, if you are a vegetarian and ordering the dish in Indonesian restaurants, you may want to confirm about the ingredients.

The recipe serves 3-4 people depending on how many other dishes are served with it.


  • For spice paste: 5 small or 1 large size of shallot, quartered
  • For spice paste: 3 cloves of garlic, halved
  • For spice paste: 1/2" fresh ginger, sliced
  • For spice paste: 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2" fresh galangal, smashed with back of knife to release the flavor. You can find galangal fresh or in the freezer in Asian stores. However, if you cannot find it, you can substitute with fresh ginger. I actually used ginger when making it.
  • 1 chayote, peeled and diced into cubes. Chayote has white seed inside. Discard the seed before dicing. You can find chayote in Asian stores. However, regular grocery stores now sell it in their produce section. If you cannot find chayote, you can skip it or use green beans, long beans, or even eggplant.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced.
  • 150 grams (about 6 cups) fresh spinach. Use fresh spinach only instead of frozen spinach.
  • 1.5 teaspoons palm sugar or to taste. You can substitute with brown sugar.
  • 1.5 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • pinch of black pepper or to taste


  1. Place spice paste ingredients (shallots, garlic, ginger, and coriander powder) into a food processor. Process until it becomes smooth paste.
  2. Put coconut milk, spice paste, bay leaves, and galangal or ginger into a pot. Heat the pot over medium high heat. As soon as coconut milk starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium and stir the pot to make sure coconut milk doesn't separate. Add chayote into the pot. Keep stirring as soon as coconut milk starts to boil again to prevent coconut milk from separating. Once chayote starts to soften, add red bell pepper, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Stir to mix the seasoning. Taste it and add more seasoning if needed. Make sure you stir the pot everytime coconut milk starts to boil. Once red bell pepper becomes tender crisp, add spinach and stir the pot so that spinach starts to wilt. Remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Serve it warm with rice and other dishes, such as fried tofu, fried tempeh, or other dishes you like.

All images, materials, and recipes on Indonesiancooking101.com are protected by copyright. Please do not use or republish the recipes, materials, or images without prior written permission from Indonesian Cooking 101. If you want to share this recipe, please share the link rather than the whole recipe.

Follow Us: twitter button twitter button instagram button