All about tempeh

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is a product created by fermenting pulses. These are usually soya beans, but may sometimes be lentils, white beans, or other ingredients.

Adding a fungus to the beans begins the fermentation process. This gives tempeh its taste and texture and makes the beans more digestible for people. In the traditional preparation process, the beans are wrapped in banana leaves.

Where does tempeh come from?

Tempeh originally comes from Indonesia, where people have eaten it for centuries. Tempeh making is believed to be the oldest food technology in Indonesia.

There are even references to tempeh in Indonesian literature from from the 16th century. It is still a very popular product among the Indonesian people today. Fried tempeh can commonly be purchased as a snack on the street.

Map of Indonesia - country of origin of tempeh
Tempeh today - vegetarian tempeh

When did tempeh cross over from Indonesia to Europe?

Tempeh has been on the rise in the West for some time now.

Tempeh is believed to have arrived in Europe as early as the 17th century. It is now especially popular among vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who wants to live more consciously for whatever reason.

Why is tempeh so suitable for India?

1. Ingredients are available locally. The soya beans for tempeh grow locally in India. The ingredients are thus readily available.

2. Attractive alternative to ‘paneer’. Tempeh fits in well with Indian culture despite the fact that it is hardly eaten in the country. In India, they eat a lot of ‘paneer’, a cheese that is quite suitable for frying. Tempeh can be prepared in the same way and is considerably cheaper than paneer.

3. Protein-rich addition to the diet. Research has shown that 73–80% of the Indian population is protein deficient. This can cause major health problems, especially for children. Researchers have noted growth deficits, underdeveloped muscles, anaemia, and reduced resistance.

4. Good absorption in the human body. Tempeh has a high protein content and a good amino acid composition. Because of the fermentation process, it is readily absorbed by the digestive system.