Chicken gulai
Course Main
Place of origin Indonesia
Region or state Sumatra
Serving temperature Hot and room temperature
Cookbook: Gulai  Media: Gulai

Gulai is a type of food containing rich, spicy and succulent curry-like sauce commonly found in Indonesia and Malaysia. The main ingredients might be poultry, beef, mutton, various kinds of offal, fish and seafood, and also vegetables such as cassava leaves and unripe jackfruit. The gulai sauces commonly have a thick consistency with yellowish color because of the addition of ground turmeric. Gulai sauce ingredients consist of rich spices such as turmeric, coriander, black pepper, galangal, ginger, chilli pepper, shallot, garlic, fennel, lemongrass, cinnamon and caraway, ground into paste and cooked in coconut milk with the main ingredients.[1] Gulai is often described as an Indonesian type of curry,[2] although Indonesian cuisine also recognize kari or kare (curry).


Gulai is originated in Sumatra, Indonesia and is thought to be the local adaptation of Indian curry, developed and derived from Indian influence on Indonesian cuisine. The dish is popular and widely served in the Indonesian archipelago, especially in Sumatra, Java and also Malay peninsula and Borneo. The thick and yellowish gulai sauce is one of the most common sauces in Minangkabau cuisine, to give a rich and spicy taste to meats, fish, or vegetables. The ingredients are simmered and slowly cooked in coconut milk, spice mixture and chili pepper. The thick golden, yellowish, succulent and spicy gulai sauce has become the hallmark of Padang restaurant's window display everywhere. In Padang, smart cooking means the capability of preparing gulai. Rendang (beef simmered in coconut milk and spices), asam padeh (sour and spicy stew) and kalio (watery and light-colored gravy) are often considered as just a few variations of Padang gulai.[3]

The gulai sauce found in Minangkabau, Aceh, and Malay cuisine usually has a thicker consistency, while the gulai in Java is thinner, served in soup-like dishes containing pieces of mutton, beef or offal. Gulai is usually served with steamed rice, however, some recipes such as goat or mutton gulai might be served with roti canai.

Some variations of Indonesian gulai according to its ingredients:


  • Gulai ayam (chicken gulai)
  • Gulai itik (duck gulai)
  • Gulai hati ampela (chicken gizzard, liver, and intestine gulai)
  • Gulai telur (hard boiled chicken egg gulai)
  • Gulai telur itik (duck egg gulai)[4]


  • Gulai kambing (mutton gulai)[5]
  • Gulai sapi (beef gulai)


  • Gulai hati (cattle liver gulai)
  • Gulai limpa (cattle spleen gulai)
  • Gulai gajeboh (cattle fat gulai)
  • Gulai iso or gulai usus (cattle intestine gulai)
  • Gulai babat (tripe gulai)
  • Gulai tunjang or kikil (cattle foot tendon, skin and cartilage)
  • Gulai otak (cattle brain gulai)
  • Gulai sumsum (cattle bone marrow gulai)

Fish and sea food

  • Gulai ikan mas (carp gulai)
  • Gulai ikan patin (pangasius gulai)
  • Gulai ikan kakap (red snapper gulai)
  • Gulai kepala ikan kakap (red snapper's head gulai)
  • Gulai telur ikan (fish eggs gulai)
  • Gulai ketam, gulai kepiting or gulai rajungan (crab)
  • Gulai cumi or gulai sotong (cuttle fish)


  • Gulai cubadak or gulai nangka muda (unripe jackfruit gulai)
  • Gulai kacang panjang (common beans gulai)
  • Gulai daun singkong (cassava leaf gulai)
  • Gulai daun pakis (fern leaf gulai)
  • Gulai jariang or gulai jengkol (Archidendron pauciflorum gulai)
  • Gulai tahu (Tofu)


  1. "Resep Gulai Ayam" (in Indonesian). Resep Masakan Indonesia. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  2. Lilly T. Erwin. "Aroma Rasa Kuliner Indonesia: Sajian Gulai (Indonesian Culinary: Gulai (Curry))". Gramedia International. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  3. Donny Syofyan (24 November 2013). "By the way ... I just can't live without Padang food". The Jakarta Post.
  4. "Resepi Gulai Telur Itik" (in Malay). MyResipi. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  5. "Gulai Kambing" (in Indonesian). August 17, 2008. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
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