7 min read Jul 11, 2024

The Enchanting World of Lolah: A Comprehensive Guide to this Indonesian Dish

Lolah, a beloved Indonesian dish, often gets overshadowed by its more famous counterparts like nasi goreng or satay. However, this humble dish, with its simple yet flavorful profile, deserves a spotlight of its own. In this article, we will delve into the world of lolah, exploring its origins, variations, ingredients, preparation, and the cultural significance it holds.

What is Lolah?

Lolah, also known as loloh, is a traditional Indonesian dish that primarily consists of steamed or boiled vegetables, often accompanied by fish or meat. The dish is known for its light, refreshing taste and its health benefits, making it a popular choice for both everyday meals and special occasions.

Here's a quick breakdown of the key elements of lolah:

  • Main Ingredient: Vegetables like spinach, water spinach, and mustard greens are staples, but other greens like cassava leaves, jute leaves, or even pumpkin leaves can be used.
  • Protein Source: Fish (both freshwater and saltwater), chicken, or beef are common additions to provide protein and richness to the dish.
  • Broth: Typically, a light broth made with coconut milk, turmeric, and other spices is used to cook the lolah. This broth imparts a distinct flavor and aroma.
  • Accompaniments: Lolah is often served with sambal, a chili paste, or other condiments like kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and lemons to add zest and spice.

Origins and Cultural Significance

Lolah's origins can be traced back to the diverse culinary traditions of Indonesia, where various cultures and cuisines have intermingled over centuries. This dish is particularly popular in the regions of Java and Sumatra, where it's often enjoyed as a comforting meal or a light and healthy option.

Lolah holds cultural significance in various communities across Indonesia. It's often prepared for family gatherings, religious ceremonies, and festive celebrations. The dish also plays a role in traditional healing practices, with some believing it possesses medicinal properties due to the abundance of vitamins and minerals found in the vegetables.

Variations of Lolah

Lolah is not a rigid recipe but a versatile dish with numerous variations depending on the region and the chef's preference. Here are some of the most common variations:

  • Lolah Sayur: This version focuses solely on the vegetables, with a variety of greens being cooked in a light broth.
  • Lolah Ikan: This variation includes fish, usually fried or grilled, alongside the steamed vegetables.
  • Lolah Ayam: Chicken is used as the protein source, often cooked in a savory broth with spices.
  • Lolah Kambing: This variation features goat meat, popular in certain regions of Indonesia.

Recipe for a Simple Lolah


  • 500g spinach or other leafy greens
  • 200g fish (any type)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Sambal, kecap manis, and lemon for serving


  1. Wash and chop the vegetables.
  2. Fry the fish in oil until golden brown.
  3. Sauté onions and garlic in the same pan until fragrant.
  4. Add coconut milk, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the chopped vegetables and cook until tender.
  6. Place the fried fish on top of the vegetables.
  7. Serve hot with sambal, kecap manis, and a squeeze of lemon.

Health Benefits of Lolah

Lolah is not only delicious but also a nutritious dish. The abundant vegetables provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The light broth and lean protein source make it a healthier alternative to heavier dishes. Some of the key health benefits include:

  • High in fiber, promoting digestion and regularity.
  • Rich in vitamins A and C, boosting the immune system and promoting skin health.
  • Packed with minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium, essential for overall well-being.
  • Low in fat and calories, making it a weight-management friendly option.


Lolah is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Indonesia. This simple yet flavorful dish showcases the use of fresh, local ingredients and offers a healthy and satisfying meal. Whether you're looking for a light and refreshing option or seeking a taste of authentic Indonesian cuisine, lolah is a dish worth exploring. So, the next time you're craving something delicious and healthy, consider giving this enchanting Indonesian dish a try!