How To Make Vegan Acar (Spicy Pickles)

This is the same acar recipe (mixed vegetable pickle with crushed roasted peanuts and sesame seeds) that I used for my restaurant except for the omission of shrimp paste (belacan) in order to make it vegan. Please note my philosophy of “agak-agak” ie. guesstimating is in full force here, especially where the sugar is concerned, so take the amounts listed below with a grain of salt (or sugar, for that matter).

Acar can be served as a side dish with nasi lemak (Malaysian coconut rice with sambal etc.) or with keropok per pictured at the bottom of this post.

You can find vegan keropoks at Asian grocery stores; look for ones made with cassava/tapioca and deep-fry them at 200’C until they expand – this should take only a couple of seconds or you’ll end up burning them.

VEGAN Acar (Easy Recipe)


  • 1/4 medium-sized cabbage, cut into ¾” widths
  • 4 cucumbers, cored and julienned
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 4 cups peanuts, skin off, roasted, then crushed
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds, roasted
  • 2 brown onions, peeled & quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 fresh chillies or 1 Tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 750ml white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tbsp oil


  1. Blend onion, garlic & chilli into a paste. Transfer into a frying pan and fry until most of the moisture has evaporated.
  2. Add oil and fry until browned and oil separates.
  3. In a separate pot, bring vinegar and water to a boil.
  4. Poach vegetables separately (the carrots will take the longest – about 20-30 seconds; cabbage should be done in about 10 and cucumber strips in 5 seconds); remove and strain.
  5. Add fried onion/chilli/garlic paste (aka rempah) along with turmeric, salt & sugar. Mix well and adjust to taste.
  6. Add crushed peanuts and sesame seeds and mix.
  7. Allow to cool, then strain to remove excess liquid.
  8. Store in jars. Keep refrigerated until use.


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