Nasi Kuning is the Indonesian version of yellow rice that is cooked in fragrant coconut milk and coloured with turmeric.
It’s the rice dish of celebration. As it often makes an appearance at happy occasions to celebrate happy things such as graduation, birthdays, newborn babies, weddings, work achievement, business launching, etc. So whenever one feels happy and like to celebrate it, one would make (or buy) this Nasi Kuning to share with their family and friends.
Traditionally, people mould the rice into a cone shape that is placed in a big food tray with all the side dishes and food trimmings surrounding the rice. And one will cut the tip of the cone as a part of their celebration.
This way of serving Nasi Kuning is called Nasi Tumpeng.
Nowadays, this yellow rice is enjoyed anytime and without any particular reason for celebrating something.
Because the rice is so addictively yummy. It’s delicately fragranced with all those lovely tropical herbs. And the coconut milk makes the rice taste delicious.
You don’t need a million things to cook this celebratory yellow rice. You just need rice, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, salam leaves, lemongrass, turmeric, lime juice and salt.
Generally, there are two types of rice in Indonesia, Beras Pulen and Beras Pera. The latter one has a similar texture as Basmati rice. The grains don’t stick together when you cook. Unless you cook it with extra water or a longer time, of course. This Beras Pera is more suitable to cook rice dishes like Nasi Uduk. And when you’re outside Indonesia, the best substitute for this rice is Basmati rice.
The other type of rice which is Beras Pulen has a sticky texture. It’s close to the texture of Thai rice. Hence, Thai rice is the ideal substitute when you’re away from Indonesia. And this rice is a good choice for Nasi Kuning. But if you can not obtain this rice, you can also use long-grain rice.
Of all the ingredients, I feel that Salam Leaves are probably the most challenging for you to obtain. Because you cannot easily get this type of herbs outside Indonesia. At least, I’ve never come across any grocery sellers that sell Salam leaf in the UK. The only option is online shopping.
But please don’t just use bay leaves only. Because the fragrant will be totally different from how it should. As bay leaves will remind you of Mediterranean food, not South-East Asian food.
Traditional way of making Indonesian yellow rice
The traditional way of making Nasi Kuning is by way of par boiling and steaming the rice.
I must admit that this old-fashioned way can be time consuming. But the end result is far superior quality.
So before you boil the rice in the coconut milk, firstly, you have to cook the coconut milk with the herbs until it’s shiny and has some oil separated from the edges.
At the same time, you also need to wash the rice then steam it. This way the rice grains won’t go hard when you cook them in the coconut milk
After you prepare the rice and coconut milk, you cook them together until all the coconut milk evaporates. Make sure you keep stirring every now and again to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once the milk has evaporated, put the rice back into the steamer at medium-high heat and steam it until it’s fully cooked. It takes me about 15-20 minutes.
Cooking Nasi Kuning in rice cooker or instant pot
Wash the rice until the water runs clear, and drain it. Put the washed rice and the coconut milk with all the herbs in the bowl of your rice cooker or Instant Pot. And set your appliance to cook the rice according to its manual instruction. And let your kitchen gadget do the job.
Like any rice dish, you can keep your nasi kuning in the fridge/ refrigerator for 4-5 days. Provided you store it in a tight-lidded food container.
You can also freeze it and it keeps well for about 6-8 weeks in the freezer. Just make sure you let it thaw in the fridge overnight before you serve or eat it.
And reheat the rice by steaming it. This way it will stay moist and fluffy.
Side Dishes To Have With Nasi Kuning
There is no limit to what you can enjoy alongside this delicious Nasi Kuning. You can have it with pretty much anything you fancy really.
As a rule of thumbs, you want to choose some dried-stuff without too much gravy. Because any gravy may take away the flavour of your Nasi Kuning.
Some ideas for you are Ayam Goreng Bumbu (spicy fried-chicken), Ayam Penyet (smashed chicken with chilli sambal), Perkedel Tempe (tempeh fritters), Perkedel Jagung (sweetcorn fritters), Sambal Goreng Terasi (chilli with dried-shrimp paste), sliced egg omelettes, some vegetables, etc.
More ideas of Indonesian food recipes
Thank you for reading this nasi kuning recipe. I hope you’re now planning to try it. It will be awesome if you can share what you think about it in the comments below (leave a reply).
And don’t forget to check my other Indonesian food recipes that you may like.
- Lamb Tongseng (lamb braised in spiced coconut milk with sweet soy sauce).
- Indonesian chicken satay: Sate Ayam.
- Lamb Satay: the copycat of Indonesian Sate Kambing.
- Indonesian Beef rendang.
Take care you and all the best.