Rojak (Malaysian and Singaporean spelling) or Rujak (Indonesian spelling) is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The term “Rojak” is Malay for mixture.
In Malaysia and Singapore, the term “rojak” is also used as a colloquial expression for an eclectic mix, in particular as a word describing the multi-ethnic character of Malaysian society.
In Indonesia, among the Javanese, rujak is an essential part of the traditional prenatal ceremony called Tujuh bulanan (literally: seventh month). Special fruit rujak is made for this occasion, and later served to the mother-to-be and her guests, primarily her female friends. It is widely known that the sweet, spicy and sour tastes of rojak are adored by pregnant women. The recipe of rujak for this ceremony is similar to typical Indonesian fruit rujak, with the exceptions that the fruits are roughly shredded instead of thinly sliced, and that jeruk bali (pomelo/pink grapefruit) is an essential ingredient. It is believed that if the rujak overall tastes sweet, the unborn would be a girl, and if it is spicy, the unborn baby is a boy.
Mangarabar, or rujak making, is a special event for the inhabitants of the Batak Mandailing region in Tapanuli, Indonesia after the harvest. Normally the whole village will be involved in making and consuming the rujak.
Mamak rojak, or Indian rojak (Pasembor)
In Malaysia, mamak rojak (or Pasembur) contains fried dough fritters, bean curds, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce. Traditionally, Tamil Muslim (Mamak) rojak vendors used modified sidecar motorcycles as preparation counters and to peddle their rojak. These mobile vendors now use modified mini trucks. The Pasembor available in Singapore is an assortment of potatoes, eggs, bean curd (tofu), and prawns fried in batter, served with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce. In the Northwest Peninsular Region (Penang, Kedah, Perlis, Perak), it is always called pasembor, but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore it is called rojak.
Fruit rojak consists typically of cucumber, pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, taupok (puffy, deep-fried tofu) and youtiao (cut-up Chinese-style fritters). Raw mangos and green apples are less commonly used. The dressing is made up of water, belacan (shrimp paste), sugar, chili, and lime juice. Ingredients vary among vendors with some also using hae ko prawn/shrimp paste, tamarind or black bean paste in the mix. The ingredients are cut into bite-sized portions and tossed in a bowl with the dressing and topped with chopped peanuts and a dash of ground or finely chopped bunga kantan (pink ginger bud).
Rojak Penang is another type of Rojak found in Penang, Malaysia. It is similar to fruit rojak, but adds jambu air, guava, squid fritters and honey to the mixture, emphasizes on the use of tart fruits such as raw mangoes and green apples, and usually omits the bean sprouts and fried tofu puffs. The sauce or dressing for the rojak tends to be very thick, almost toffee-like in consistency and texture.
Recently sotong kangkung has become so famous in Malaysia, that you can find it at most of the rojak stalls. Sotong kangkung contains sotong (cuttlefish), kangkung (water spinach), cucumbers, bean curds, peanuts, chilli and sauce.
Indonesian Fruit Rujak
The typical Indonesian fruit rujak consists of slices of assorted tropical fruits such as jambu air (water apple), pineapple, raw mangos, bengkoang (jicama), cucumber, kedondong, and raw red ubi jalar (sweet potato). Sometimes Malang variants of green apple, belimbing(starfruit), and jeruk Bali (pomelo) are added. The sweet and spicy-hot bumbu rujak dressing is made of water, gula jawa (palm sugar), asem jawa (tamarind), ground sauteed peanuts, terasi (shrimp paste), salt, bird’s eye chili, and red chilli pepper. All of the fruits are sliced to bite-size, and put in the dish. The bumbu rujak or thick sweet spicy rujak dressing is poured on the fruit slices. An addition of sambal garam powder (simple mixture of salt and ground red chilli) is put on side as the alternative for those who love a salty taste for their rujak. The Javanese people call this kind of rujak as lotis.
Rujak Tumbuk (Rujak Bèbèk)
This is another variant of Indonesian fruit rujak. The ingredients are almost the same as typical Indonesian fruit rujak, with the exception that all the ingredients are mashed together (tumbuk or bèbèk in Indonesian) in a wooden mortar. The dressing is not poured on the fruit, but already mixed together with all the ingredients. Rujak tumbuk is served in individual smaller portions on banana leaf plates called pincuk.
This literally means “shredded rujak”, and is another variant of Indonesian fruit rujak. As with rujak tumbuk, the ingredients are similar to Indonesian fruit rujak, with the exceptions that the fruits are not cut into bite-sized pieces, but shredded into a roughly grated consistency.
Rujak u’ Groeh
A delicacy from Aceh province, this rujak consists of very young and tender coconut meat, young (green) papaya, bird’s eye chilli, sugar, palm sugar, ice, salt, and a dash of lime. Best eaten cold.
“Pengantin” means bride/groom in Indonesian. This rujak is reminiscent of Indonesia’s colonial cuisine. It contains slices of boiled eggs, potatoes, fried tofu, pineapple, carrot, bean sprout, pickles, chili, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, emping crackers, roasted peanuts, peanut sauce and has a little vinegar to it. Some variants mixed the peanut sauce with mayonnaise. It is somewhat like Central Javanese gado-gado.
Rujak Kuah Pindang
A Balinese snack, a variation of the Indonesian fruit rujak, but instead of the normal rujak dressing, the fruits are soaked in a spiced fish broth. The broth consists of terasi (shrimp paste), salt, bird’s eye chili, and red chilli pepper and fish broth.
Cingur literally means mouth in Javanese, “cingur” (pronounced: ching-oor) is a variant of rujak from Surabaya. This specialty rujak from East Java has a “meaty” taste. It contains slices of cooked buffalo or cow lips, bangkuang, young raw mango, pineapple, cucumber, kangkung, lontong (rice cake), tofu and tempe, all served in a black sauce made from petis (black fermented shrimp paste, related to terasi), and ground peanuts. It is topped with a sprinkle of fried shallots and kerupuk (Indonesian shrimp crackers).
This is another variant of rujak from Surabaya. It contains slices of bangkuang, unripe raw mango, cucumber, kangkung, kedondong, tofu, and soy bean sprouts all served in a black sauce made from petis (sticky black fermented shrimp paste, related to terasi), fried shallots, salt, palm sugar, unripe banana, and ground peanuts. Traditionally it is served on a banana leaf, but today it is more commonly served on plates.
Similar to fruit rujak, and also from Surabaya. Aside from unripe fruits the rojak also includes fried tofu, fried garlic and optionally beef tendons. The sause is a petis based sauce mixed with palm sugar, slices of raw bird’s eye chilli, and sweet soy sauce.
Juhi means salted cuttlefish in Indonesian; this rujak contains fried takwa tofu, fried boiled potatoes, fried shredded salted cuttlefish, cucumber, noodles, lettuce, cabbages, peanut sauce, vinegar, chilli, and fried garlic. This dish was originated from Chinese community in Batavia (now Jakarta) and now has become the Betawi dish closely related with Asinan Betawi.
Named after “Bioscoop Shanghay” (a cinema named after Shanghai, China’s most populated city) In Batavia Kota area, this dish was created by Indonesia’s Chinese community. This variant of rujak can be found in Indonesian Chinatowns in cities such as Glodok in Jakarta. Rujak Shanghai contains seafood, like Rujak Juhi. Boiled and sliced gurita (octopus) and teripang (sea cucumber) also edible jellyfish, are served with kangkung (a leafy green water plant commonly used as vegetable), and served with thick red sweet and sour sauce, mixed with pineapple juice, and sauteed ground peanuts. Usually chilli sauce and pickled bengkoang are served as condiments.
A delicacy from Banyuwangi, East Java, a unique blend between beef soto and rujak cingur. A local specialty in which the rujak is poured with soto. The rujak cingur itself doesn’t contain petis as one of its ingredient. Created at 1975 by Usni Solihin.