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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 would like to celebrate it, one would make (or should I say order) 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.
But for me, I can have this yummy yellow rice any day. I can have it without anything to celebrate as the reason. I just can’t get enough with Nasi Kuning.
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.
Things That You Need
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 one to obtain. Because you cannot easily get this type of herbs outside Indonesia. At least, I’ve never come across any groceries sellers – both offline or online – that sell Salam leaf in the UK.
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 Mediterranian food, not South-East Asian food.
How To Make Indonesian Yellow Rice
Just like the traditional way of Indonesian cooking the rice, there are two basic steps you do to make this Indonesian Yellow Rice. Pre-boil the rice and steam the rice.
However, because we use coconut milk to cook the rice, we have to pre-boil the coconut milk with all the herbs and salt first.
And we also need to steam the rice before we cook it in coconut milk. The reason is that this way the rice won’t go hard compared to when it’s cooked straight away in the coconut milk. Somehow the fat in coconut milk can make the grains hardened. So you want to soften them by pre-steam them before you cook.
After you prepare the rice and coconut milk, you can cook them together until all the 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 25-30 minutes.
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.
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.
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).
Before you go on checking this Nasi Kuning recipe, you may want to check out my other recipes too.
- 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.
- Balado Teri: fried anchovies in chillies and peanuts.
- Indonesian Beef rendang.
- Gado-gado Jakarta.
Thank you and all the best.