Acar Awak

'Acar awak' are pickled vegetables which are mildly spiced, sourish and with a tinge of sweetness too. It serves as a condiment as well as an accompaniment to many local dishes due to its tantalizing flavours.

5 stars

Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 20 mins


Spicy Vegetables Relish, Acar Nyonya

Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Bruneian

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Nutrition per Serving

1126 kcal
161 g
49 g
33 g

Acar awak is a pickled vegetables dish known best within the Nyonya or Peranakan community. Usually, it is prepared in large amount and stored in glass bottles for later consumption as these pickled vegetables taste better as they age. Usually enjoyed as a side dish or condiment along with rice, it stirs up the appetite. In Malaysia or Singapore, acar awak is sometimes served with ‘nasi lemak’.

Tips for crunchy acar awak

Vegetables in acar awak should be crunchy and not hard. Hence, hard vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers need to be coated with a bit of salt to make them tender. The seeds of the cucumber must be removed to avoid excess water in the dish. Besides that, the chilli paste used has to be thick and not watery.

As for the cauliflower and french beans, blanch to soften them and also to remove the raw taste. However, the vegetables should not be over-cooked. Immediately stop the cooking process by transferring the blanched vegetables into iced cold water.

The next step is to either dry them under the sun for two hours or leave them in the oven set at 50 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes.

Flavours of acar awak

Acar awak has a combination of sour, sweet and spicy flavours. In short, this spicy vegetables relish is tangy. The level of spiciness highly depends on the chillies used and the way they are processed. Remove the membranes and seeds of the chillies to reduce the spiciness.

Other ingredients in acar awak

Pineapple or even brinjals may be added if that is your preference. The pineapple adds a fruity and tangy note to the dish. The pineapples and brinjals will also need to be dried in the oven or under the sun like the other vegetables.

What is the shelf life of acar awak?

Store acar awak in a clean and dry airtight glass container. It can be kept for up to one month if refrigerated.

The appetizing acar awak is ready to be served immediately after cooking. It is definitely a good accompaniment with plain rice. The warmth of the steaming white rice coupled with the coldness of the chilled acar makes every mouthful a delight.


180 g
180 g
2 tsp
600 ml
4 tsp
white vinegar
90 g
white cabbage
60 g
french beans
80 g
fresh chilli (red)
chilli peppers (dried)
3 cm
garlic clove(s)
lemongrass stalk(s)
2 tbsp
1 tsp
tamarind paste
5 g
shrimp paste (dried)
3 cm
turmeric (fresh)
30 g
sesame seeds

Steps to Prepare

Acar Awak Step 1

Step 1 of 5

    • 180 g carrot(s)
    • 180 g cucumber(s)
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 400 ml water
    • 2 tsp white vinegar
    • 90 g white cabbage
    • 60 g french beans
    • 80 g cauliflower

Cut carrots, cucumber, french beans, cauliflower and cabbage into bite-sized pieces. Remove the seeds of cucumber. Mix cucumber and carrot pieces with 2 tsp of salt. Store in the refrigerator. Boil a pot of water with 2 tsp of vinegar. Blanch cabbage and french beans for 1 minute or until slightly wilted. Set aside.

Acar Awak Step 2

Step 2 of 5

Preheat oven at 50 degrees Celcius. Dry carrots, cucumbers, cabbage and french beans with a paper towel. Optional: Add pineapples. Place all vegetables on a tray/baking pan. Leave them in the oven for 40 minutes.

Acar Awak Step 3

Step 3 of 5

Blend chillies, shallots, candlenut, turmeric, galangal, garlic and lemongrass until smooth. Heat oil over medium heat and sauté blended ingredients until fragrant or when it changes into a darker shade of red. Then, add water along with tamarind paste. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat. Add shrimp paste and vinegar. Finally, add salt and sugar to taste.

Acar Awak Step 4

Step 4 of 5

    • 30 g peanuts

Add crushed peanuts into the chilli paste. Remove the pan of vegetables from the oven and add them into the pan. Mix well.

Acar Awak Step 5

Step 5 of 5

    • sesame seeds

Serve immediately or store in a clean, dry bottle. If refrigerated, it can be kept for up to one month. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on the dish before serving.

Published: March 22, 2015

2 Discussions

3 years ago


Hi there, I acknowledge in your recipe at Step 2, you have indicated candlenut and turmeric. However, it seems you are not using these two ingredients in your cooking. Please let me know how and where do I use these two ingredients when preparing Acar. Thank you.

Francis Goh
2 years ago

Francis Goh

those 2 ingredients you mentioned are used in Step 3

Grace Winter-Alsop
4 years ago

Grace Winter-Alsop

Hi, What can i substitute candlenut with please as i can't find it here. Thank you.

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
4 years ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Cashew nuts for example. You can get other substitute suggestions and learn more about candlenuts here:

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