Mangarabar, rujak the Tapanuli way

Rujak (roujack) or rojhak is a sweet sour salad made from fruits and vegetables and is mostly eaten as a snack between meals throughout Indonesia. The fruit and vegetable variations are many. Some regions even have rujak in their array of ceremonial foods.

Take for example the custom of mangarabar when the harvest is nearly finished and people have some leisure time in many villages in Tapanuli. Mangarabar is a word in the Batak Mandailing dialect, meaning to prepare a rujak.

Mangarabar in Tapanuli, especially in villages, differs from preparing a rujak or sweet and sour salad in urban regions. The difference is especially noted in the ingredients, preparation and most important the situation when a mangarabar is required.

To make a rabar (rujak) during a mangarabar requires a certain set of obligatory ingredients consisting of three main ingredients which are red chilies, salt and unripe or green fruits.

The fruits are plantain, cempedak and belimbing (star fruit). All the ingredients are then put into a traditional stamper or lesung and coarsely pound.

Arranging a mangarabar after harvest may seem a very simple affair but not executing it will be regarded as a rather serious mistake in many villages in Tapanuli.

The time to arrange a mangarabar is mostly decided by some village elders when they are having a casual meeting at somebody’s house. Children, teenagers, elderly people are welcome to join to make the event successful.

Arrangement is planned so that the mangarabar will be a pleasant get-together. They look for the fruits for the right ripeness and also for a place large enough to accommodate many people.

Choices will be sometimes difficult because even the elderly and those with a small home will offer their place for the mangarabar.

People also offer for organizers to use their fruits or vegetables. And young men cut a banana tree while teenagers clean and cut the fruits and vegetables to put into the lesung or traditional stamping utensil.

Red chilies and salt along with granulated sugar to make the rabar more delicious is donated by the elderly, who use sugar to sweeten their morning coffee.

Those who are not able to give any basic ingredients help to stamp the rabar.

For many people, the mangarabar is a way of showing togetherness. It gives those involved a satisfied and proud feeling. Those who are too lazy to help will feel awkward when offered a portion of rabar.

While enjoying the rabar, people talk about plans for the next harvest, and, of course, expectations are the next mangarabar will be just as successful.

Mangarabar is really a special event for the inhabitants of the Batak Mandailing region in Tapanuli and a much anticipated date after harvest.

Rujak is sold by vendors, who display a colorful array of fruit in their glass container. Normally available is a rujak of yam beans, cucumber, pineapple and some colorful fruits like varieties of guavas.

Last but not least just to give you a small variety of regional rujak here are some recipes from all around the archipelago from Jakarta to Manado.


1. Rujak Campur

A rujak from Jakarta and suburbs


1 fresh pineapple, peeled, eyes removed, cut into cubes or matchstick size, 450 g
1 tsp salt, for coating the pineapple
1 bengkuang (yam bean), peeled, cut into cubes or matchstick size, 400g
1 unripe mango, peeled, cut into cubes or thin slices, 300 g
An unripe papaya, cut into matchstick size, 100 g
1 belimbing (star fruit), thinly sliced, 50 g
3 jambu air merah (red water apple), thinly sliced, 150 g
75 g boiled beef, cut into matchstick size

For the sauce:
1 red chili, 10 g
2 chili paddy, 10 g
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
2 pisang batu (small stony plantain, seeds discarded, optional), 20 g
150 g brown sugar
1/4 tsp petis udang (fermented shrimp paste)
1 tbs tamarind liquid


To make the sauce:
Make a paste of red chili, chili paddy, salt, small stony plantain, brown sugar and fermented shrimp paste. Add tamarind liquid.

How to serve:
1. Mix pineapple, yam bean, mango, papaya, starfruit, water apple and boiled meat. Pour sauce over it. Mix again.

Makes: 8 servings.

2. Gohu

A typical rujak from Manado


1 unripe papaya, peeled, seeds discarded, cut in matchstick size, 250 g
3 shallots, 30 g
2 red chilies, 20 g
3 chili paddy, 15 g
2 slices of fresh ginger
1 tsp mashed, roasted trassi
3 tbs vinegar or to taste
4 tbs granulated sugar
2 tsp salt or to taste
600 ml cooked or bottled water


1. Make a paste of shallots, red chilies, chili paddy and ginger
2. Add trassi, vinegar, sugar, salt and water
3. Add papaya into liquid and let stand at least one hour to fully absorb the sauce.

Makes: 6 - 8 servings

3. Rujak Donggala

From South Sulawesi a rujak to taste


A ripe pineapple, peeled, eyes removed, cut in small slices, 350 g
An unripe papaya, peeled, seeds discarded, cut in small slices, 300 g
300 g kedondong (seasonal), peeled, cut in small slices
300 g bengkuang (yam bean), peeled, cut in small slices
250 g sawi asin (fermented flowering cabbage), cut in slices,
300 g brown sugar
250 ml cooked or bottled water
A pinch of salt or to taste
100 g fried unpeeled peanuts
1 tbs bubuk cabai (chili powder), 7 g


1. Put brown sugar and water into a pot. Season with salt and boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Sieve and mix with the fruits.
2. Top with fried peanuts and chili powder.

Makes: 8 servings.

4. Rujak Serut Sukabumi

From cooler regions a grated rujak


A fresh carrot, peeled, grated, 20 cm
3 kedondong, peeled, grated, 300 g
1 bengkuang, peeled, grated, 300 g
1 tbs tamarind liquid
2 red chilies, 20 g
3 chili paddy, 15 g
1/2 tsp roasted trassi
50 g brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
2 tsp sweet tauco (taucheo)


1. Mix carrots, kedondong and bengkuang thoroughly, add tamarind liquid, mix again.
2. Make a paste of red chilies, chili paddy, trassi, brown sugar, salt and taucheo.
3. Pour sauce over the grated carrot, kedondong and yam bean. Let stand in a cool place or in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
4. Serve cold.

Makes: 4 servings

Sumber : (Suryatini N. Ganie) The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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