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Tempe Tumis Cabe Gendot - Tempeh Stir Fry with Habanero

For a really long time, I thought the hottest chili in Indonesia is bird eye chili, a.k.a. cabe rawit. Then one day I saw habanero being sold, and lo and behold, they are called cabe gendot in Indonesian due to its blown up shape. This chili is being produced in the high plateau of Dieng. If you know where Bandung is, then it is around that area. Kind of make sense really, since the hotness of cabe gendot suits the cool climate of Dieng rather well. And just to make myself really clear, cabe gendot is way way like WAY hotter than cabe rawit, so be extra sure to wear a glove to handle this.

Tempe Tumis Cabe Gendot - Tempeh Stir Fry with Habanero

This is the first time ever I cooked with habanero, so I was being extra cautious with how much chili to use. Turned out I should have added more, like double or at least 50% more :) That said, this tempe dish is still a killer though. And, if habanero is not available, just substitute with the ever present bird eye chili. ♥

Tempe Tumis Cabe Gendot - Tempeh Stir Fry with Habanero

Tempe Tumis Cabe Gendot - Tempeh Stir Fry with Habanero

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 8


  • 500 gram tempeh, cut into matchsticks, about 1cm x 1cm x 5 cm
  • 8 shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah), thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih), thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • 2 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), bruised and knotted
  • 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas), bruised
  • 2 to 4 habanero (Indonesian: cabe gendot), seeded and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 4 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)


  1. Deep fry tempeh until crispy and golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoon oil and sauté shallot, garlic, bay leaves, lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal until fragrant. About 3 minutes.
  3. Add habanero and sauté for another minute.
  4. Add salt, sugar, water, and sweet soy sauce. Cook until bubbles and the sauce is reduced by 50%.
  5. Return the fried tempeh and mix well with the sauce. Cook until the sauce has all been absorbed by the tempeh and the tempeh is coated with a glossy sheen.
  6. Turn off the heat, discard the leaves and lemongrass. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with steamed white rice.


  • Anne says:

    Beautiful site, Anita. Recently I discovered these. I am a Dutch girl and I love indonesian cooking, learned myself with the help of an Indonesian aunt. Unfortunately she past away. So I started cooking lessons to improve my indonesian cooking. They learned me how to use sereh, not the whole stick, but just a leaf. So i can use one serehstick for maybe twenty times. Normally I would use in your recipe with the tempeh two whole sticks; what is your advice for this recipe and normally. Thank you for answering.

    • Anita says:

      Hi Anne, so nice knowing you as well :) We always use at the minimum one whole stick of lemongrass in our cooking, maybe because they grow like weed and are relatively cheap to buy. I guess if it costs a lot in Netherlands, I can see how it evolves into using just one leaf. That said, if it is not terribly expensive, please at least use one whole lemongrass for this recipe since it will lend citrus aroma minus the acidity.

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