Tempeh and jackfruit turmeric curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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Tempeh and jackfruit turmeric curry might sound like a newfangled recipe but in truth, it’s as traditional as it gets. In Malay, the dish is known as tempeh masak lemak and young jackfruit has long been used in Malay and Indonesian cooking.

It’s similar to the Javanese opor dish and every family has their rendition. Here, we’re sharing our family’s version, and we prefer it with a slightly thick gravy so the slabs of tempeh can mop up all that flavour.

So where can you find young jackfruit? Head over to Tekka or Geylang Serai’ wet market where you can find it pre-sliced into neat quarters. Meanwhile, we got ours from Karana, purveyors of organic young jackfruit grown in Sri Lanka.

Several notes about this recipe: Firstly, the spice level can be adjusted (simply add more bird’s eye chillis or take out some). If you ask us four chillies are just enough. This dish also needs umami and traditionally, we get that depth from ikan bilis (anchovies) or belacan (fermented shrimp paste).

We’ve however, used vegetarian belacan which is cheaply available at any Asian vegetarian grocers. The best part? The recipe is super easy and takes just 30-40 minutes to whip up. Serve it fresh and warm with steamed riced. Enjoy.


      The spice mix
    • 6 shallots, peeled
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 4 bird’s eye chilli
    • 1 bombay onion
    • 2 inch square of belacan
    • 3 inches of fresh turmeric
    Everything else
    • 200 grams of tempeh
    • 200 grams of young jackfruit
    • 100ml of coconut cream
    • 2 stalks of lemongrass
    • 4 kaffir lime leaves
    • 2 thin slices of fresh galangal
    • 3 tbsp of oil (we used olive oil)
    • salt to taste


  1. Slice tempeh into three cm thick slices. Place into oven at 160 degrees for 15 minutes. You may also air fry. This step is to roast the tempeh ever so slightly so it remains firm when added into the gravy later.
  2. If using Karana’s jackfruit, measure out the desired amount, pat dry and set aside.
For the spice paste
  1. While the tempeh bakes in the oven, combine turmeric, shallots, garlic, onion, chillies, belachan and water in a blender.
  2. Blend until it turns into a uniform paste.
  3. Heat up a pot with some oil on medium heat
  4. Once it’s hot, empty out blender with spice paste into the pot. Stir to avoid burning. Add water if the paste is too thick.
  5. As the paste cooks, remove tempeh from the oven, and allow it to stand.
  6. Add in the kaffir lime leaves, sliced galangal and lemongrass.
  7. Taste. The spice paste is ready once the oils emerge and the turmeric’s sharpness is no longer detectable.
  8. Once you’ve reached this stage, pour in 100ml of coconut cream. Add half a cup of water and salt to taste. Stir and allow to simmer.
  9. As it simmers add in the jackfruit and tempeh. Continue simmering for five minutes.
  10. Best served warm with steamed rice. Bon apetit!