Indonesian food is sometime weird for some peoples.  Peoples doesn’t like durian because the smell is to strong.  Indonesian people say the best time to eat durian is at the ripe stage. It different compare to Thailand peoples.  They eat earlier.  But Indonesian extreme food is not only Durian.  You can find many of them.  Jengkol is the most popular.  But, the strongest stinky food is Kabau.  Let say, the stinky level is 3 times than Jengkol.

The Stinky bean from Sumatra

Kabau (Archidendron bubalinum) origins is South East Asia.  One of Fabaceae members.  The distribution is in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In Indonesia, Kabau mostly distributed in Sumatra.  This species is not common in Java island.  The popularity is below two most stinky foods, Jengkol (Archidendron pauciflorum) and Petai (Parkia speciosa).  But almost all Sumatra people know it.  Archidendron bubalinum has some different name in Sumatra. Such as Jering (Lampung), jering utan (Riau), jariang hutan (West Sumatra), kabau (Bengkulu, Jambi, South Sumatra).

Similar to Jengkol

Archidendron bubalinum will grow optimally in lowland to midland.  The need full exposure of sunlight.  The tree performance is similar to Jengkol.  From the tree, leaves and their branching. The tree can reach about 20 meters with diameter can reach 30 cm.  The seed is in the green cylindrical pods.  The pods are containing 8-12 seeds.  The seed coat is thin layer with dark color.

Indonesian extreme food
Kabau seeds, one of Indonesian extreme food (photo by Muryanto Paiman)

Kabau is less popular than jengkol.  They naturally grows wild in lowland primary and secondary forests. But sometimes, Kabau grows also in the garden. But the forest going to decrease and many lands now turn to rubber and oil palm plantations.  It also causing the decrease of Kabau population.

Edible part

The old seeds are popular as main ingredients and to strengthen aroma on the dishes. While the young seeds are popular as Lalab. The distinctive aroma of Kabau seeds can increase appetite.   The taste and aroma of Kabau seeds is much stronger than jengkol seeds. This is the reason that Kabau is become one of Indonesian extreme food.

Kabau is one of the indigenous plants that has the potential as a food.  But is not widely known by people outside its growing area. One of the reasons is the low availability.  Gradually, nets are also no longer an option when people will make food. even during the season.

High content of jengkolat acid

Although it can become a food with a unique taste, Kabau also has same risk as Jengkol. Kabau seeds contain high jengkolat acid. Jengkolat acid, is a non-protein amino acid that contains sulfur. This compound is naturally found in the jengkol (Archidendron paciflorum) and jering (Archidendron bubalinum) seeds. Its chemical structure contains sulfur. This compound causes a foul odor after consuming the seeds.

The concentration of jengkolat acid in the body will increase if you consume large amounts of Jengkol seeds or Kabau.  This condition can lead to the formation of sharp crystals in the kidney and/or urinary tract. This can interfere the urinary organs function. This symptom is popularly known as Jengkolism. If the condition is severe, people who suffer from Jengkolism symptoms are similar to the symptoms of urinary stones. In fact, the patient’s urine also contains jengkolat acid.

Way to reduce jengkolic acid and other anti-nutrient content

Peoples who love to prepare the food, usually using heat treatment to reduce the chemicals content in Kabau.  The most common way is by boiling.  The seeds were boil 2-3 times by change the water.  It will reduce a lot of Jengkolic acid content.  From the experience, it also usually decreasing the taste.  And the seeds become softer. 

The other way, which also effective on reducing the jengkolic acid is by heating.  One report from 36th Scientific Conference Nutrition Society of Malaysia also mention, that heat treatment is effective to reduce the chemicals of anti-nutrition content. 

Soaking in the water also able to reduce the chemicals.  Usually, people grind the seeds and soak them in the water.  Rinse several times, until the water becomes clear

The recipe of Indonesian extreme food

There are many recipes you can find.  But, sambal Kabau recipe is actually the most popular one.  Here is the recipe from

  • Peel and soak the Kabau seeds in the water.
  • Ground the Kabau seeds until slightly crushed, and put into a bowl or plate container
  • Clean the crushed seeds with water to remove the sap. In the first rinsed, usually the water color will be cloudy white (a lot of sap). Cleaning a few times, will reduce the sap and the water has started to clear. After washing, the crushed Kabau fruit is ready to be fried.
  • Fry the Kabau seeds in oil for about 15 minutes, until the color turns brown.
  • Pour the ground chili sauce that has been mixed with onions and salt as needed.
  • Stir some minutes to ensure the sambal is evenly cooked.
  • the sambal Kabau is ready to be served

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


Muh. Andar Sugianto · July 27, 2022 at 5:01 pm

Greetings Sir Muryanto, I’m an Informatics Engineering student name Muhammad Andar Sugianto from Universities of Hasanuddin. I was trying to reach you via your contact page but there’s and error and thinking I should just post it here. I was interested in your topic on edible plants/wild plants and was hoping to dig in for more information regarding my thesis. I’m trying to make a system to identify edible plants based on image captured from android phone camera that required alot of data of plants image. Before I start gathering data I need to understand what separate edible and non edible/poisonous plants, what are the paremeters, which part are edible and etc. There’s none to little article or study regarding indonesian edible wild plant that makes it harder to identify my research object. Another problem is that I don’t know where to go to validate my dataset of plant image on whether they are edible or not. In short I was lacking alot of information on plants data and where to validate them. Thanks for listening and keep on writing the article. Always happy to hear from you.

    yen yen sally rahayu · September 2, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    Hi, andar sugianto. Saya peneliti yg tertarik akan topic wild edible plants juga. ini slah satu publikasi saya , disana ada mkn kita bisa ngobrol2 mungkin untuk posible kolaborasi? hub saya di email yg tercantum di publikasi saya

    yenyen sally rahayu · September 2, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    hi andar, saya peneliti yg tertarik ttg wild edible jg, ini publikasi saya, jika tertarik untuk ngobrol2 dan kolaborasi hub email saya yg tercantum di publikasi saya.

Muh. Andar Sugianto · July 27, 2022 at 5:33 pm

Greetings Sir Muryanto, I’m an informatics engineering student from Universities of Hasanuddin. I’m trying to reach you using your contact page but it seems there’s an error, my apoligies for putting it here. I’m interested in your topic on edible plant and I’m having a problem regarding that topic for my thesis. Is there a way for me to reach you out ?. Thanks for listening and always happy to hear from you.

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