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Smoor Djawa – Indonesian Beef Stew

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Smoor Djawa – Indonesian Beef Stew

Smoor Djawa

This blog post contains a recipe for smoor djawa which will show you how to make a traditional and easy Indonesian meat stew from the Island of Java. You can slow cook it in an Instant pot (or Dutch oven).

This is a very easy recipe to prepare but takes a while to make as it requires some slow cooking, which can be sped up a little with the Instantpot.

smoor daging recept


What is Smoor Djawa?

Smoor is really a Dutch word that means to braise or slow cook food. In Indonesia the derived word is semur, which is what describes a meat stew, braised in a sweet soy sauce or ‘ketjap manis’. Djawa is the Indonesia name for Java, where this meal originates, hence the combination Smoor Djawa.

It is important to use ketjap manis in this recipe, as opposed to normal soy sauce, as the ketjap is dark and thick and sweetened with molasses, which imparts a fantastic flavour to the meat. Normal soy sauce can be a bit too salty to use with this dish.


indonesisch stoofvlees


The wish to try cooking this recipe myself came from my gastronomic experiences in Indonesia in Jakarta and Bandung in the early 1990’s.

But also from my visits to the Dapur Ibu for my regular lunches where a spoonful of this ‘semoor’, as they call it, would be added to my rendang together with my spicy noodles for the perfect lunch treat. Spicy, sweet and different.

indonesisch draadjesvlees


The Dutch were of course very present in their colony of Indonesia during the time of the Dutch East Indies and this food dates back to those times when spices like nutmeg and cinnamon were widely traded by the East India company. Nutmeg is used in this recipe.

Meat to use for Smoor Djawa  

As with my rendang daging recipe,  I have used some nice lean ‘chuck’ steak to make this recipe. The advantage is that it is very good to slow cook and becomes super tender after it has been slow cooked for a while.

If you are Dutch, chuck steak is like ‘sucadelappen’ (or blade steak), from the shoulder of the stier. Perfect for so-called indonesisch draadjesvlees or stoofvlees (Indonesian shredded meat or braised meat) – meaning it is so tender it is almost falling apart. 



Really you can use any lean beef that is good for slow cooking in this recipe, but it is important to slow cook to allow the juices from the sauce to impregnate the meat.  

I hope you enjoy making and trying this delicious Asian recipe and please let me know how you get on in the comments section below!

How to make Smoor Djawa

smoor djawa

Smoor Djawa

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

This easy slow cooked recipe for Smoor Djawa will give you some wonderful tender beef that is just perfect, served with some white rice and prawn crackers or crispy onions.


  • 1 kg chuck steak
  • 150 ml Ketjap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • 300ml water
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cornflour


  • Sesame seeds
  • Coriander
  • Crispy onions


  1. Chop the meat into 1 1/2" size pieces. Then put the instant pot on saute and brown the meat together with the chopped onions in some oil. (I use another pan at the same time to brown the meat in parallel as you may need to do it in batches).
  2. If you are not using an Instantpot, then use a Dutch oven at 160C in the oven as an alternative.
  3. Add the red pepper, ginger, and garlic to the pot and saute for another 2 minutes. Then add the ketjap manis, nutmeg and water and set the instant pot to slow cook for 2 hours.
  4. After 2 hours at slow cook in the Instantpot, close the lid and set to the meat/stew setting (or pressure cook) for 60 minutes. (If cooking in a Dutch oven in the oven then slow cook for about 4 hours at 160C).
  5. When the cooking time is finished, on the Instantpot remove the pressure carefully using the release valve (or remove the Dutch oven from the oven). Taste the sauce and check that the meat is sufficiently cooked.
  6. Add honey and if the sugar to taste and if the sauce is still thin then mix some sauce with some cornflour and add back to the pot. Mix and put on a saute setting for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens, (or in the case of a Dutch oven, heat on the hob for 5 minutes, stirring until thick).


Serve up with some white or coconut rice and garnish with some crispy onions, sesame seeds and chopped coriander.

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