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Nasi Kuning (Indonesian Yellow Rice)

Posting Date: 09/30/16

Nasi Kuning (Indonesian Yellow Rice)

Nasi Kuning (Indonesian Yellow Rice) is normally served during a special occasion celebration in Indonesia, such as wedding, new company opening celebration, company milestone celebration, the birth of a child, etc. The rice is normally shaped in a big cone shaped using banana leaves. The rice is yellow in color. The yellow color comes from the turmeric. The rice is cooked in coconut milk, turmeric, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. The lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves give the rice nice aroma and flavor. When you are cooking it, your house will be filled with a nice aroma of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. You can also smell it on the rice after cooking. Nasi kuning is normally served with other dishes, such as ayam goreng, perkedel kentang, slices of omelette, peanuts, shrimp crackers, ikan teri (fried anchovies cooked with some spices), fried tofu, fried tempeh, etc. It can be served with slices of cucumber and tomato on the side. I normally add mint for freshness.

Since I own a rice cooker, I use it to make nasi kuning. You can also use a pot to cook it like you would when cooking regular rice. The amount of liquid to cook the rice may vary depending on your rice cooker brand. So, in the method I mention to check the rice during cooking to make sure you have enough liquid to fully cook the rice. With my rice cooker, the amount of liquid I use (2 cups of coconut milk and 1 cup of boiling water) is enough to cook 2 cups of rice. You may need to add more depending on your rice cooker. If so, add about 2 tablespoons if you see you are almost out of the liquid while the rice is still not fully cooked. You may ask why I use boiling water, instead of room temperature water. From my experience, boiling water cooks the rice uniformly whenever the rice is cooked in coconut water and spice powder, in this case turmeric powder. I think it is because the hot water dissolves the coconut milk and turmeric powder on the rice more uniformly than room temperature water. In addition to using boiling water, I also leave all the ingredients with the rice for half an hour before cooking the rice. This extra step also helps with getting the rice cooked uniformly with coconut milk and turmeric powder. You can serve the rice with any dishes that go well with the rice, such as roasted chicken, fried chicken, etc.

This recipe serves 4-6 people.


  • 2 cups of jasmine rice
  • 2 cups of coconut milk. Before opening a can of coconut milk, shake the can of coconut milk first so that it will mix well because sometimes the coconut milk and water in the can are separated.
  • 1 cup of boiling water. Use boiling water only because it makes the turmeric powder and coconut milk combine really well so that the rice will be uniformly cooked in coconut milk and yellow in color.
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 lemongrass, white part only and smashed it to release the oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves or if you cannot find them, use lime zest from 1 lime
  • fried onions to taste
  • sliced omelette. To make it look pretty, after you cook the omelette, roll the omelette tightly first before slicing it.
  • Optional: peanuts
  • Optional: mint leaves
  • Optional: ayam goreng or Indonesian fried chicken. If you are a vegetarian, use fried tofu instead.
  • Optional: shrimp crackers. Skip this if you are a vegetarian.
  • Optional: perkedel kentang
  • Optional: 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced


  1. Add rice, boiling water, coconut milk, turmeric powder, lemon grass, bay leaves, salt, and kaffir lime leaves in the rice cooker. Stir it with a fork so that coconut milk and water are well combined and the liquid becomes uniformly yellow from the turmeric powder. Leave it for half hour.
  2. After half hour, turn on the rice cooker. You may want to check after 15 min cooking in the rice cooker to make sure the rice and liquid are still uniformly yellow. If not, stir it with a fork but make sure you don't stir it too much.
  3. After 25 min cooking in the rice cooker, check to make sure the liquid is not almost gone while the rice is still hard. If that happens, drizzle on top of the rice about 2 tablespoons of water so that the rice can cook further.
  4. Once the rice cooker is done, check to make sure the rice is fully cooked. If not add about 2 tablespoons of water in the rice cooker and start the rice cooker again so that the rice can finish the cooking. In my rice cooker, I don't need to add any additional liquid at all other than the 2 cups of coconut milk and 1 cup of water that are added in the beginning, i.e. those coconut milk and water are sufficient to fully cook the rice. However, I am not sure about other rice cookers since there might be some variatons from 1 rice cooker brand to another. I also didn't need to stir the rice and liquid during the cooking process and the rice comes out uniformly yellow.
  5. Serve the rice while it is still warm, top it with fried onion, and serve it with sliced omelette. You can serve the rice with ayam goreng (Indonesian fried chicken), perkedel kentang, shrimp crackers, peanuts, etc. For freshness, you can also serve it with slices of cucumber and mint on the side.

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