Rujak Manis (Indonesian sweet and spicy pineapple) Recipe

Updated: May 26

Rujak Manis is a traditional fruit and vegetable dish, commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Although the origin of rujak is unclear, there are many rujak varieties in Indonesia and Malaysia. Natives of the Malay archipelago have been consuming Rujak Manis possibly since ancient times. They combined sour-tasting fruits - like apple - and unripe fruits - such as pineapple - together with palm sugar and salt to balance the sourness.

Rujak Manis (left) and Acar Ketimun (pickled cucumber) in mason jars

Rujak is one of the oldest traditional Indonesian dishes and the earliest historically identified food of ancient Java. It was mentioned as 'rurujak' in ancient Javanese Taji inscription already in 901 CE. Rujak is even incorporated into the prenatal ceremony of the Javanese. According to local traditions, unripe mango and other sour-tasting fruits are craved by pregnant women, apparently as the counterpart of pickles in the West.


Nowadays, several rujak variaties contain chillies or sambal chilli paste. The introduction of hot and spicy chilli pepper took place during the early colonial era in the 16th century, because these products were brought by Spanish and Portuguese traders from the Americas. From then on, rujak evolved into the dish we know today.


Today, rujak in Indonesia is sold at traditional marketplaces, warungs (small family-owned businesses) or gerobaks (pushcarts). There are a lot of variaties to this dish but the basic sauce ingredients for the sweet version (Rujak Manis) are mostly the same: salt or shrimp paste (trassi), sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), tamarind and sambal chilli paste. Usually unripe tropical fruits like mango, papaya, pineapple, pomelo/ grapefruit are used but you can also use apples, peers or other Western fruits.


Because the tropical fruits available in Dutch supermarkets are usually not really ripe, you can use those ones perfectly. When using pineapple look for pineapples with a green skin. The rujak in my Indonesian cooking workshops usually contains a green apple as well, to add some more sourness.


To make Rujak Manis with pineapple and green apple first hollow out the pineapple. I use a pineapple core remover which at the same time makes slices.

Pinapple core removing

Next, cut the pineapple slices in bite-sized pieces and add them to a bowl or jar.

Pineapple cutting

Peel the skin of the green apple and add to bowl or jar as well. Last step is to make the sauce. Heat kecap manis in a saucepan. Once it boils lower heat and add sugar (or juice from the pineapple!). Wait until the sugar dissolves add sambal chilli paste (or regular chilli thinly sliced), tamarind as well as trassi and mix well. Let mixture cool, add to the bowl or jar and mix well. Enjoy this sweet, savoury, sour and spicy Rujak Manis!

Rujak Manis (pineapple and apple) served in a mason jar

Ingredients

  • 1 pineapple (or other tropical fruits like papaya, mango etc.)

  • 1 green apple, peeled

  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (gula jawa), or substitute with caster sugar

  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)

  • 1 teaspoon sambal chilli paste (or another chilli paste)

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind (or lemon/ lime)

  • 0,5 teaspoon shrimp paste (trassi), or substitute with salt for a vegan Rujak Manis

  • Optional: half cucumber, deseeded and diced into small cubes


Instructions

  • Hollow out pineapple and dice into pieces. Peel apple and dice as well.

  • Heat kecap manis in a small pan. Once boiling, reduce heat, add sugar (or pineapple juice) and simmer until sugar dissolves.

  • Add sambal chilli paste, tamarind and trassi. Mix well and keep heated (not boiling) for 2 minutes. Add water if mixture evaporates too fast / is too thick.

  • Remove from heat and add pineapple and apple to mixture. Mix well and set aside.

  • Optional: cut cucumber in half, remove seeds and dice into small cubes and add.

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