yellow vegetable curry in black bowl, dark food photography, curry food styling, Vegan Sayur lemak

Vegan Sayur Lemak (Vegan Yellow Coconut Curry)

  • Author: Azlin Bloor
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x


Vegan Sayur Lemak is a simplified and veganised version of the traditional light coconut curry from Singapore and Malaysia.




  • 300g (10.5oz) tofu, cut in 2.5cm/1″ cubes
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil (only if frying tofu)


  • 1 medium onion, halved, then sliced thinly
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced widthwise
  • 2.5cm (1″) ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a red chilli, sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, the bottom half only, and bruised
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric


  • 1 medium aubergine (eggplants), sliced in rings (or 5 baby aubergines)
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced in rings
  • 150g (about 5oz) white cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 100g (3.5 oz) French beans, sliced in half

Everything else

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 350ml (1 2/5 cup) water
  • 300ml (1 1/5 cup) coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 lime leaves, torn (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp clear vinegar
  • small handful fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped


Frying Tofu (optional)

  1. If you are frying the tofu, heat the oil in a small frying pan and lightly fry the tofu for about 2-3 minutes, on medium heat, until golden brown, and drain on kitchen paper, until needed. This is just to add crunch and deepen the flavour. You could skip this stage and add the tofu as is.

Cooking our Vegan Sayur Lemak

  1. Heat a large saucepan on medium high heat and sauté the onions for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, chillies and lemongrass and fry for just 30 seconds.
  3. Add the turmeric and cook for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the aubergines and carrots and coat them well.
  5. Add the water and coconut milk, bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and simmer, giving everything a good mix but with a light touch. Cover partially and cook for about 15 minutes (or 20-25, if you like your aubergines falling apart) Remember, never cook coconut milk on high heat.
  6. Now add the rest of the vegetables, the soy sauce, salt and lime leaves (if using), and stir thoroughly. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tofu now, if you didn’t fry them first (and tempe, if using). If fried, add tofu in the next step, after 5 minutes.
  7. Add the fried tofu, cook for a minute to let it heat through, check the seasoning, add more salt or soy sauce if necessary.
  8. Turn the heat off and stir in 1/2 tsp clear vinegar.
  9. Garnish with some coriander leaves (cilantro) and serve, as suggested.


The nutritional information is based on 6 servings, and the tofu not being fried, and used fresh, cut in cubes.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: Singaporean

Keywords: vegan, vegetarian, curry, singaporean, malaysian, indonesian