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Acar mentimun.jpg
Acar made of cucumber, carrot and shallot bits in vinegar
TypeCondiment or salad
Place of originIndonesia
Region or stateMaritime Southeast Asia
Associated national cuisineIndonesia, Singapore, Malaysia
Main ingredientsVegetables (cucumber, carrots, cabbage), shallot, bird's eye chili and yardlong beans, vinegar, dried chillies, pineapples

Acar is a type of vegetable pickle from Indonesia[1], and popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. It is a localised version of Indian Achaar. It is known as atjar in Dutch cuisine, derived from Indonesian acar.[2] Acar is usually prepared in bulk as it may easily be stored in a well-sealed glass jar in refrigerator for a week, and served as the condiment for any meals.[3]

Pickling originated in India in 2400 BCE,[4][5] Indian achaar pickle transmitted to Philippines as atchara via acar of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.


Historic Indosphere cultural influence zone of Greater India for transmission of elements of Indian culture including food, e.g. pickle / atchaar / atchara / acar,

Pickling originated in India around 2400 BCE,[4][5] and with expansion of Indosphere cultural influence of Greater India,[6] through transmission of Hinduism in Southeast Asia[7][8][9] and the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism[10][11] leading to Indianization of Southeast Asia through formation of non-Indian southeast Asian native Indianized kingdoms[12] which adopted sanskritized language[13] and other Indian elements[14][15] such as the honorific titles, martial arts, attire, and cuisine including adoption of Indian achaar pickle as atchara in Philippines and acar in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei during the Indianised kingdom of Srivijaya (the Visayas islands are named after him).


Acar (left) served with sambal, the common condiments in Indonesia.

The Southeast Asian variations are usually made from different vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, cabbage, shallot, bird's eye chili and yardlong beans, which are pickled in vinegar, sometimes added with kaffir lime to add citrus aroma, and also dried chillies. Some recipes might have the vegetables tossed in ground peanuts. Acar is commonly served as a condiment to be eaten with a main course, such as nasi goreng (fried rice), satay, and almost all varieties of soto.[1] Just like common pickles, the sour taste of acar is meant to freshen up a meal, especially fishy dishes such as ikan bakar (grilled fish) or the rich and oily dish such as mutton satay to neutralize the fat.

Regional cuisines

In Indonesia, acar is commonly made from small chunks of cucumber, carrot, shallot, bird's eye chili and occasionally pineapple, and marinated in a sweet and sour solution of sugar and vinegar. Some households add lemongrass or ginger to spice it up.[16] It is usually used as condiment to accompany grilled foods such as satay. Nevertheless, acar is can also be consumed as a whole, complete dish. For example, ikan acar kuning is a fish dish (gourami, mackerel or tilapia) served in acar pickles of cucumber, carrot, shallot and red chili, mixed with yellow spice paste made of ground turmeric, candlenut, ginger, garlic and shallot.[17] It is known as atjar (pickle) in Dutch cuisine, derived from Indonesian acar, since the Netherlands and Indonesia share colonial ties.

Variations of Malaysian acar include Acar Awak or Nyonya acar and Malay acar. Acar Awak is more elaborate, containing additional vegetables such as eggplants as well as aromatic spices in the pickling mix.

The salad has also been adopted into Thai cuisine, where it is called achat (Thai: อาจาด, pronounced [ʔāː.t͡ɕàːt]). It is made with cucumber, red chilies, red onions or shallots, vinegar, sugar and salt. It is served as a side dish with the Thai version of satay (Thai: สะเต๊ะ).

With Indian and Malay slaves initially brought by the British Empire, Atchar became a favourite condiment in South Africa. The local variation is usually made with green mangoes.

See also


  1. ^ a b Anita. "Acar – Indonesian Pickle" (in Indonesian). Daily Cooking Quest. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  2. ^ Nasution, Pepy. "Acar Recipe (Indonesian Pickle)". Indonesia Eats. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  3. ^ Arsana, Lother (2013). Authentic Recipes from Indonesia. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 31–32. ISBN 9781462905355. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Pickles Throughout History". Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b "A Brief History Of The Humble Indian Pickle". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  6. ^ Kenneth R. Hal (1985). Maritime Trade and State Development in Early Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8248-0843-3.
  7. ^ Guy, John (2014). Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, Metropolitan museum, New York: exhibition catalogues. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588395245.
  8. ^ "The spread of Hinduism in Southeast Asia and the Pacific". Britannica.
  9. ^ History of Ancient India Kapur, Kamlesh
  10. ^ Fussman, Gérard (2008–2009). "History of India and Greater India". La Lettre du Collège de France (4): 24–25. doi:10.4000/lettre-cdf.756. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  11. ^ Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella (ed.). The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1.
  12. ^ Manguin, Pierre-Yves (2002), "From Funan to Sriwijaya: Cultural continuities and discontinuities in the Early Historical maritime states of Southeast Asia", 25 tahun kerjasama Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi dan Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient, Jakarta: Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi / EFEO, pp. 59–82
  13. ^ Lavy, Paul (2003), "As in Heaven, So on Earth: The Politics of Visnu Siva and Harihara Images in Preangkorian Khmer Civilisation", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 34 (1): 21–39, doi:10.1017/S002246340300002X, retrieved 23 December 2015
  14. ^ "Chola dynasty - Wikipedia". Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  15. ^ Kulke, Hermann (2004). A history of India. Rothermund, Dietmar, 1933- (4th ed.). New York: Routledge. ISBN 0203391268. OCLC 57054139.
  16. ^ "Acar – Indonesian Pickle Ingredients". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  17. ^ Quinn, Farah. "Ikan Nila Acar Kuning" (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.