Sayur Kare is perfect if you’re looking for an authentic Balinese dish that’s fragrant, delicious and a little spicy. Especially when served with Nasi Uduk (Coconut Rice) Plus, you can have it on your plate in 25 minutes!
Why this recipe works
- Our Sayur Kare is based on an authentic recipe that we learned at an awesome cooking school in Bali. We’ve kept it simple, so even if you haven’t cooked much before you’ll be able to follow it.
- Sayur Kare translates to 'vegetable curry'. It’s a traditional Balinese curry made with Bumbu Bali – an all-purpose Balinese curry paste that's authentic and really easy to make.
- This recipe uses a mix of vegetables that are often found in Sayur Kare (Balinese vegetable curry) in restaurants. We sourced our veggies in the local market close to where we live right now in Bali. Don’t worry if you’re not in Bali though, you’ll be able to find everything you need in a standard supermarket.
- Carrots and beans are some of the most frequently used vegetables in Bali so we made sure to include them!
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Bumbu Bali – this is a traditional Balinese spice paste. It’s used to make many different types of recipes. It only takes 10 minutes to make and keeps well in the freezer so make it ahead and keep more for a later date! Don't forget to check the recipe and ingredients for it.
- Curry leaves (or Salam leaves, see note below) – these leaves help to create a well-rounded flavour
- Kaffir lime leaves – these are fragrant, zesty leaves, that often found in Thai cooking, but used across Asia.
- Lemongrass - bash the lemongrass to release flavour, and tie it in a knot to make it easier to retrieve before serving.
- Coconut milk – we use coconut milk and water to make the sauce for this sayur kare. While it’s not a dry curry, it’s not as soup-like as Thai curries, for instance. If you would like more sauce, add half a cup more of coconut milk.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is an overview of how to make this recipe. Please see the recipe card for full ingredients, instructions and notes.
1. Begin by frying the Bumbu Bali (spice paste) in without oil for 30 seconds, over a medium heat. You’re aiming to get the paste nice and hot, so that it becomes fragrant.
2. Add the salam leaves, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to the pan with the paste. Fry for another 30 seconds.
3. Add the potato, and give everything a good stir.
4. Pour the water into the pan, and bring it up to a simmer. Allow to cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check the potato by pricking a piece with a fork. You’re looking for it to be quite soft, but not completely cooked. If the potato is still hard then give it a few more minutes.
5. Pour the coconut milk in and bring up to simmer.
6. Add the rest of the veg and simmer for 3-5 more minutes. The veg should be hot, but still have some crunch.
7. Season with the salt and serve up the sayur kare with rice, and enjoy!
👩🍳 Expert tips
What are salam leaves?
Salam leaves are Balinese bay leaves, although they don’t taste anything like the bay leaves! They’re often used in Balinese cooking, particularly curries, and add an aromatic, sweet yet savoury flavour. Dried salam leaves can be found in Asian supermarkets, both in the UK and the US.
If you can’t get salam leaves, an easy swap is to use curry leaves, as they’re very close in flavour.
Tie the lemongrass!
Lemongrass adds an amazing flavour to your Sayur Kare, but it’s not very nice if you bite down on it! For this reason, we always tie our lemongrass into a knot. This means you can use it to add flavour to your dish, but easily locate it and remove it before serving.
This Sayur Kare (Balinese vegetable curry) isn’t runny like a Thai curry, but it’s also not as thick as an Indian curry. If you like your curry to be quite saucey, just add a little more coconut milk. Around ½ a cup of coconut milk is a good amount to create more sauce, while maintaining a balanced flavour.
Sayur Kare is best enjoyed fresh, but you can make it a few hours ahead of time. If you do, don’t cook it for the full amount of time, otherwise the beans and carrots will go soggy! You could even cook it up until the penultimate step and then finish it off by adding the carrots, green beans and broccoli and cooking it through just before serving.
Yes, absolutely. This curry freezes well, and will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remember, the longer something is in the freezer, the more the flavours will degrade. So best reheat it before the 3 months are up.
Yes! We’ve chosen the veggies for this recipe based on what’s in season in Bali, and what’s most commonly used. You could also use cauliflower, mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus and peppers - they’d all work really well.
🇮🇩 More Indonesian recipes you might like:
If our Sayur Kare has left you wanting to try some more authentic Indonesian recipes, we’ve got you covered. Why not give these a go:
- Jackfruit Rendang
- Gado Gado in 15 minutes
- Vegan Mi Goreng
- Vegan Nasi Goreng
- Nasi Uduk
- Urab Sayur
- Crispy Tempeh Kecap
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Balinese Vegetable Curry in 25 minutes
- 5 tbsp Bumbu Bali
- 200 g potato - peeled and cut into equal bite-sized chunks
- 200 g green beans - topped and tailed and cut into 2” pieces
- 200 g carrots - cut into slices
- 200 g broccoli - cut into small florets
- 3 curry leaves or salam leaves if you have them
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 lemongrass - bashed and tied
- 250 ml water
- 250 ml coconut milk
- 1 tsp salt
- Put the Bumbu Bali (spice paste) in a wok without oil and fry for 30 seconds.
- Once the paste is hot and fragrant, add the salam leaves, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to the pan with the paste. Fry for another 30 seconds.
- Pop the potato in and stir well.
- Pour the water into the pan, and bring up to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes to cook the potatoes.
- Check the potato by pricking with a fork. It should be starting to soften, but not completely cooked. If it’s still hard give it a few more minutes.
- Next add the the coconut milk and bring back up to simmering.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for 3-5 more minutes. After 5 minutes the vegetables should be hot, yet crunchy and the potatoes should be cooked through. Season with the salt, stir and serve.
- If you would like more sauce, add in another half cup of coconut milk. It won’t dilute the flavour as the spice paste is so flavourful.
- This curry can be made a few hours ahead. We’d recommend cooking up until step 6 and then adding the remaining vegetables and heating everything through just before serving.
- This curry can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Feel free to mix up the vegetables. Other vegetables that work well include: courgette (zucchini), mushrooms, cauliflower, peas and peppers. You can also add tofu or tempe to increase the protein content of this meal.