"One of the most popular Malay street foods in Kuala Lumpur is rojak, which is essentially a substantial salad. There are some very distinct varieties – the Chinese one, for example, is chunky and fruit-based, with a thick, sweet-savoury dressing. It’s maybe the best-known type. Indian rojak is rather different. It’s a mixture of little prawn fritters, hard-boiled egg, shredded jicama, sprouts and cucumber, all drenched in a thick, sweet peanut and chilli sauce. I found a great Mamak (Indian Muslim) truck selling it and it’s become my favourite place for rojak in town. You find it by taking the LRT to Taman Bahagia then walking right over the road from the station. There, beside a large tree, is my guy named Ayub – he’s been making rojak for over 25 years." Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia
- 4 waxy potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable oil
- 200 g firm tofu, pat dried
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers, julienned
- 1 jicama, julienned
- 2 red Asian shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 long green chillies, thinly sliced
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced
- 2 red Asian shallots, peeled and sliced
- 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ cup bean sprouts, washed and drained
- 150 ml water
- ½ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100 g small green prawns, shell on
- 500 g sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 6 red Asian shallots, diced
- 100 ml tinned chopped tomatoes
- 50 g roasted peanuts, crushed
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) Sriracha chilli sauce
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 35 g (¼ cup) grated palm sugar
- 2 tsp kurma powder (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the potatoes in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a wok until the temperature reaches 180˚C. Cut the cooled potatoes into quarters and deep-fry for 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Slide the firm tofu into the hot oil and deep-fry for 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel, cut in half and set aside.
Slide the eggs into the hot oil and deep-fry for 4 minutes or until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
To prepare the prawn fritters, place all the ingredients, except the prawns, in a large bowl and mix well until you get a fairly thick batter.
Bring the oil back to 180˚C.
Using lightly oiled hands, shape the fritters into discs about 5 cm wide and 1 cm thick, then place 1 or 2 prawns on top of each disc. Carefully slide the prawn fritters into the hot oil and fry for 5–6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel, then cut each fritter in half and set aside.
To prepare the rojak sauce, place the sweet potato, shallot and tinned tomato in a blender. Add 500 ml (2 cups) water and blitz until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, add the crushed peanuts, Sriracha chili sauce, salt, sugar and kurma powder. Bring to a gentle simmer over low-medium heat and gently cook for 15 minutes or until slightly reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.
We are now ready to assemble our rojak. Divide all the fried ingredients between 4 small serving plates. Scatter the julienned cucumber and jicama on top of all the fried ingredients, then ladle a generous amount of the rojak sauce over the top. Garnish with the sliced red shallos and green chilli and serve immediately.
• Kurma powder is also known as Korma powder, a mild and aromatic blend of ground spices including ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and coriander seed.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok.