Indonesian Curried Tempeh

Indonesian Curried Tempeh over Rice

In case the two of you haven’t met, allow me to introduce you to a member of the Soy family. His name is “Tempeh”, “Tofu’s” beefier cousin.

Tempeh, an Indonesian staple made from fermented soy beans, may remind you of a very aggressive power bar. But this inexpensive protein recasts itself as a delicious textural component in this recipe paired with vegetables and sweet potatoes in a savory curried coconut sauce.

Far from tofu in disguise, tempeh offers several benefits that bean curd can’t. The fermentation process that creates tempeh breaks down the soybeans, making them more digestible than tofu for some folks. Underrated tempeh also outshines tofu when it comes to protein, fiber, and minerals.

Many versions of tempeh may incorporate whole grains, lentils and herbs. Grain tempeh varieties are fine but avoid pre-seasoned tempeh in this recipe–I used a three-grain tempeh which was delicious.

Tempeh should always be cooked, and is especially delicious fried. My favorite way is using tempeh in stir-fried Asian dishes. The flavors of soy sauce, lemongrass, chilies and coconut milk utterly transform tempeh. Eggplant is an excellent substitute for sweet potato in this recipe. The eggplant, however, does not need as much cooking time as the sweet potatoes. Steamed white rice is the perfect accompaniment to this Indonesian-inspired curried dish.

Recipe: Indonesian Curried Tempeh


  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces (unseasoned) tempeh, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into a 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 assorted colored peppers, halved, seeded, membranes removed, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 (13-14) ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or shoyu
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Chopped hot chili peppers or red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the tempeh over medium heat until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add sweet potato and sauté an additional 10 minutes.
  2. Add additional 1 tablespoon oil to pan and sauté the peppers, and garlic and onion for five minutes.
  3. Whisk together coconut milk, curry and tamari and add to the pan. Stir, cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, occasionally stirring, or until sweet potato is fork tender. Stir in basil and season to taste with hot chilis, if desired.

Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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