My Grandmother’s Atjar Tjampoer / Acar Campur (Indonesian Mixed Vegetable Pickle)

My mother recently found an old notebook where my grandmother had once written down her ‘recipe’ for ‘atjar tjampoer / acar campur’, though I highly doubt oma ever really followed a particular recipe to the t and the handwritten recipe itself does not include any measurements, bar ‘3 cloves’. Nevertheless, my grandmother always made sure there was a large pot of acar for family dinners and, while differing from time to time, hers was usually made with cauliflower (though she writes ‘broccoli’ in the notebook), carrot, cabbage and random other vegetables such as leftover dill pickles, baby corn, or sweet red pepper.
The recipe below is my rendition of my grandmother’s ‘atjar tjampoer’ as written in the notebook combined with my memory of what her dish used to taste like.


But what is acar exactly? Acar (pronounced a-char) is a type of vegetable pickle that can be found on dinner tables in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and many other South- and Southeast Asian countries. Because of The Netherlands’ colonial history with Indonesia, this pickle can be found in Indonesian-Dutch cuisine as well, where it is known as ‘atjar’. I’ve read that the word and history of these types of pickles possibly derive from India, where pickles and pickled condiments are known as ‘achār (achaar)’ as well.


There are many types of acar, made with various vegetables and the ‘acar campur / atjar tjampoer’ from this recipe in particular simply means ‘mixed pickles’, referring to the fact that it’s made with a combination of different veggies. Which vegetables those are, you decide for yourself (but, of course, I’ll give suggestions).
While I do love to snack on pickles straight from the jar, this acar is commonly served as a condiment or side dish to be eaten with a main course of rice and meat or fish, where the sour and refreshing taste of the pickles serves to freshen up and balance out fatty or spicy meals.

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My Grandmother’s Atjar Tjampoer / Acar Campur (Indonesian Mixed Vegetable Pickle)

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  • GF
  • DF
My grandmother's recipe for Indonesian vegetable pickle side dish
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:30 mins
  • Cook Time:10 mins
  • Serves:10
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • For bumbu (spice paste):
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 kemiri (candlenuts)
  • 3cm piece fresh ginger (about 20g)
  • 5cm piece of fresh turmeric root, or about 1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric
  • 5g piece dried terassi (dried shrimp paste), or about ½ teaspoon of the powdered kind
  • 1 tablespoon (or a piece about the same amount gula djawa (palm sugar), or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or add more to taste later
  • 2 - 3 fresh or dried daun salam (Indonesian bay leaf)
  • 2 - 3 fresh or dried daun jeruk purut (Kaffir lime leaf)
  • 3 cloves
  • -
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 250ml white vinegar, or a bit more if vegetables don’t release any liquid
  • -
  • vegetables:
  • 250g pointed (sweetheart) cabbage, or white cabbage
  • 250g cauliflower
  • 150g green beans
  • 100g carrots, grated
  • 250g of other vegetables*
*Other optional vegetables to add to or replace ones above: broccoli, baby corn, cucumber/dill pickles, flat beans (runner bean), green paprika, sweet red pepper, radish, red chili pepper, baby onions
  1. prep: grate the carrot and cut the vegetables into small pieces. Peel the ginger and turmeric roots.
  2. With a pestle and mortar (or food processor, if you don’t have any), grind all ingredients listed for ‘bumbu’ into a paste except for the cloves, daun salam (Indonesian bay leaf) and daun jeruk purut (kaffir lime leaf). When using a pestle and mortar, you can first roughly chop the shallot, garlic and ginger before grinding to make things easier.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of sunflower oil and fry the spice paste (bumbu) for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the daun jeruk, daun salam and cloves and sauté for another minute.
  4. Pour in the vinegar and heat until it starts to bubble slightly.
  5. Add chopped vegetables, stir, and cover the pot. Simmer on low heat for 3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly cooked, but still crunchy. Season with more salt and sugar if necessary.
  6. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool with the lid on. Whilst the mixture is cooling, stir occasionally to make sure all the vegetables are well covered with the flavourings/juice.
  7. These pickles can be served once cold, or refrigerated until needed (they are best at least a day or two after making them). When stored in an airtight container these pickles can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week or a little longer.

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