Braised Lamb Ribs in Buah Keluak Paste

Monday, April 08, 2019

If you have been to Tekka market, you will find row of stalls selling lamb.

Piles of tulang greets you as you approach the stalls. As with beef or pork; it is a head to toe thing; from tough to tender cuts of meats, suiting many different type of recipes and cooking techniques.

My favourite cuts are the small ribs (about 20 per kg) and the chops (about 26 per kg).

"Cook for an hour?"

"No, no, huff an hour okay. No one hour." the Indian butcher replied, shaking his head for emphasis and dispelling the notion that mutton or lamb needs long hours of cooking. These ribs and chops should be delicious in any kind of curries.

I have always wondered how it will taste with buah keluak paste. Having cooked it a few times, I will definitely give it a thumbs up. Whether on the home or a restaurant table, it should be an amazing dish.

Now, the key to a good buah keluak dish is to make a good buah keluak paste, of course. As I have said elsewhere, I buy ready prepared buah keluak flesh from the dry good stalls at Tekka market. If you want to prepare them from scratch, that will be fine as well and the cost will be cheaper.

The other ingredients you add to the buah keluak flesh depends on what meat you are cooking it with and what dish you wish to make. If I am making it with pork belly and want to make a buah keluak variant of Toyu Bak, I add more garlic. Ginger always goes well with lamb or mutton and so, for this dish, I will add more ginger. I add soy sauce for the salinity and gula Melaka or sugar for the sweet. Then some assam paste for the sour. Crushed black pepper and lime juice will be a good way to complete the dish just before it is served and garnish with some herbs like basil, coriander leafs or kaffir lime leafs. Except for the meat (of course), the rest of the ingredients are local or Southeast Asian.

The technique for this dish is similar to making curries and if you are familiar with curry making, this is a no brainier.


1 kg of a mix of lamb chops and ribs
15 pieces of buah keluak
2 inch of ginger
1 inch of turmeric
1 inch of galangal
10 pieces of shallots
2 sticks of lemon grass (white bulb only)
2 tsp chilli paste (optional)
100 ml soy sauce (or more, to taste)
100 gm of gula Melaka or sugar (or more to taste)
2 tbsp of assam paste
1 piece of Thai lime or 2 pieces of kalamansi
100 ml vegetable oil
200 ml water
For garnishing: sweet basil, coriander leafs or kaffir lime leafs.


  1. Using a blender, blend the herbs and buah keluak flesh into a paste. 
  2. Heat up the oil in a wok. Add the paste, gula Melaka, soy sauce, Assam paste and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  3. Add the ribs/chops and stir. Then add the water and simmer for 30-40 minutes till the meat is tender (but not falling apart). Adjust the taste further with soy sauce or gula Melaka or sugar if needed. 
  4. Add the crushed black pepper corn and squeeze the lime juice in and stir.

Meat added to the paste before it is simmered for 30-40 minuets
After simmering, t he dish is done. 
You can cook this way before dinner time as this dish keeps well and the taste gets deeper with time.

This dish is best serve warm or at at room temperate. Garnish with any of the green leafy herbs before you serve. If you are using Kaffir lime leafs, dice it up. Basil and coriander leaves can be used whole. Eat with hot steamed rice.

Local, delicious and unusual. There are many reasons to like this dish.

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  1. Hi, which brand of buah keluak paste is good?