Urab Sayur is a fragrant and warm vegetable salad with toasted coconut. It’s lovely and light, and slightly spicy. It’s super popular in Balinese cuisine, and we love it because it’s so easy to make! All you’ll need is 9 ingredients and less than 25 minutes.
So, what is Urab Sayar?
Urab Sayur, as it’s called in Bali, is a salad made up of blanched vegetables, spicy sambal and toasted coconut. The fragrant combination of coconut and spices gives the dish its signature flavour that it’s loved for. Urab Sayur originated in the Java area of Indonesia, but it’s popular throughout the country. Outside of Bali, Urab Sayur is also known as Urap, or Urap-Urap in the plural.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Our recipe for Urab Sayur is based on a traditional recipe which we learned while living in Bali. We’ve learned all of the tricks and techniques to ensure authentic tastes and textures, which you can benefit from here too.
- This recipe is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time for shopping or food preparation. Urap Sayur has just 9 ingredients, and you can make it in under 25 minutes.
- The crunchy veggies in Urab Sayur are what gives the dish its texture, so it’s important not to overcook them. Follow the timings in the recipe card to avoid the veg going soggy.
- In traditional Balinese cooking, Urab Sayur is made with grated coconut. We’ve substituted this for desiccated coconut because it more readily available! Be sure to toast the coconut to get the flavour just right.
- You can enjoy Urab Sayur either as a main meal, side salad or part of a Nasi Campur. It’s great having something so versatile and easy on hand for those nights when you don’t know what to eat!
- This recipe states to blanch the vegetables. Usually this would mean boiling them in hot water for a short amount of time and then plunging into ice water. As this salad is served warm, we don't plunge the vegetables into cold water. For ease, we're still using the term 'blanching'.
🍽 Equipment needed
Urab is really simple to make, so you don’t need any specialist equipment. Make sure that you have a large pan for blanching the vegetables, and a sieve to strain them afterwards. You’ll also need a big mixing bowl for combining the ingredients and serving the salad.
📋 Ingredient notes
- Desiccated coconut. Traditionally, grated coconut is used to make Urab Sayur. We’ve found that desiccated coconut is a great alternative that makes preparation that bit easier. Just be sure that you don’t use coconut shavings, as they won’t work. It’s important to toast the coconut in a saute pan, otherwise you won’t get the right flavour.
- Kaffir lime leaves. These are what gives your salad a fresh and fragrant flavour. Shred them finely to release the flavour - using a pair of scissors is the easiest way to do this.
- Beansprouts. Beansprouts overcook very easily, so make sure you put them in to blanch at the very end. They should only be in the hot water briefly.
- Sambal. Sambal is an Indonesian chilli paste, usually made with chillies, ginger, palm sugar and lime juice. Homemade sambal is delicious, but shop-bought will work well, too. If you’re buying sambal be sure to check the ingredients, as it often has shrimp paste in it.
🔪 Step by step instructions
1. Fry the shallots in a frying pan until translucent. Use a splash of oil if you'd like – if the pan is non-stick you don't need the oil.
2. Toast the coconut in a sauté pan. Toasting the coconut is important, as it creates a deeper and more aromatic flavour. Keep a close eye on your coconut while you're toasting it. You’re looking for it to change colour from white to golden, but not all the way to brown. Once the coconut is toasted, set it aside.
3. Next, blanch the vegetables. First put the green beans in for 1 minute 30 seconds, then add the cabbage for another 30 seconds. Turn the heat off. Blanching is cooking your vegetables briefly in boiling water then plunging into cold water. However, as this is a warm salad, we're not going to plunge the vegetables into the cold water. This ensures that they are hot, but that they retain their crunch. Be careful not to overcook the veggies, as this will ruin the texture of your salad.
4. Put the beansprouts and spinach into the hot water. Drain immediately.
5. Chuck all of the blanched veggies, fried shallots, kaffir lime leaves, and toasted coconut into a large bowl. Add your sambal and some lime juice, and mix everything together.
6. Give your Urab Sayur a taste and see what you think. You can add more sambal, kaffir lime or lime juice, if you like. It should taste light and fragrant. Serve up either as a main, a side or as part of a Nasi Campur, and enjoy!
👩🍳 Expert tips
- Toasting the coconut is a must! When you toast coconut it changes the flavour profile and makes it deeper and richer. This flavour is an important part of the signature taste of Urab.
- Urab Sayur is generally served pretty spicy, so don’t be afraid to add extra spice paste if you want to! We’d recommend using a minimum of 3 tablespoons, and up to 6 depending on how much you like spice.
- Feel free to mix up which leafy greens you use depending on what you have on hand, or what is in season. As long as you keep the bean sprouts and green beans, you’ll retain the traditional texture and flavour.
It can, but it’s much better eaten on the day it’s made. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more the veggies will start to wilt. This will affect the texture. As the veggies wilt, they will release water, making the salad soggy after a while.
No, this salad doesn’t freeze well. In particular, bean sprouts don’t freeze well. We’ve noticed that they go very limp and watery once they’ve been defrosted.
The spinach and cabbage can be substituted for any other leafy greens. Things like kale and spring greens work particularly well. We’d recommend keeping the green beans and the beansprouts, as they are an important part of the dish.
🥗 What to serve it with
Urab Sayur is perfect as a stand alone meal, but it also works well as a side salad. Give it a try serve with any (or all!) of these:
🇮🇩 More Indonesian recipes you might like
If you try Urab Sayur and it gives you a hunger for Balinese cooking, you’re in the right place. Have a go at one of these authentic Balinese recipes next dinner time:
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9 Ingredient Balinese Urab Sayur
- 200 g green beans – chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 300 g spinach
- 300 g cabbage – shredded
- 150 g beansprouts
- 2 shallots – chopped
- 6 kaffir lime leaves – shredded
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 3-6 tablespoon sambal
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Toast the desiccated coconut in a sauté pan. Watch the coconut closely, it should go from white to golden, but not to brown. Set aside once golden.
- Fry the chopped shallots in a sauté or frying pan, until translucent. Set aside.
- Blanch all of the vegetables in a pan of boiling water. First allow the green beans to simmer for 1 minute 30 seconds, then add the cabbage for 30 seconds and then turn the heat off. Place the spinach and beansprouts into the pan and then immediately drain the vegetables. As this is a warm salad, there’s no need to plunge the vegetables into cold water, which would be usual for blanching.
- Put the veggies, fried shallots, shredded kaffir lime leaves, and toasted coconut into a large mixing bowl. Mix with lime juice and sambal until it’s all coated well. Season with salt.
- Add more lime juice, sambal and salt depending on how spicy or sour you would like the salad to be. Serve up either as a main, a side or as part of a Nasi Campur, and enjoy!
- Usually blanching would mean plunging the vegetables into ice cold water after boiling for a short amount of time. As this salad is served warm, we don’t do this. We still use the term ‘blanching’ for ease.
- The toasted coconut should be golden, not brown for the optimum flavour (please see the pictures).
- Try swapping out the cabbage and spinach for seasonal greens, but try to keep the green beans and beansprouts, as these are key ingredients for a traditional version of this recipe.
- This salad is best served on the day it is made. It will keep well in the fridge for a couple of hours, but any longer and it will start to release water and the vegetables will wilt.
- This recipe doesn’t freeze well.