It is pretty accurate to say that rice cannot be separated from the daily life of Indonesians. The country’s staple food can be easily found adorning the dining table in every house during mealtimes. To further prove the importance of rice in Indonesia, there’s even a local expression that said, “Kamu belum makan kalau belum makan nasi” (“You haven’t eaten properly if you haven’t had rice”).
White rice is usually consumed with various accompanying dishes that include vegetables and a selection of side dishes such as tempeh, tofu or fried chicken. Nevertheless – thanks to our vibrant culinary culture – there are many selections of delightful rice dishes in Indonesia that one can explore and blindly eat on its own.
Probably the most celebrated Indonesian rice dish, a simple plate of Nasi Goreng (fried rice) usually consists of fried rice, scramble eggs or omelette, shredded chicken, pickles and crackers. Not only is the dish highly popular among foodies, it’s also one of the most favourite treats to be sold by hawkers and street purveyors.
Steamed rice or nasi uduk can be found easily in every city in Indonesia. It’s served with assortment of side dishes that one can choose from, such as fried chicken, shredded omelette, perkedel (mashed potato fritters), tempe orek (stir-fried tempeh with sweet soy sauce), kacang teri (fried anchovies with peanuts) and sambal. Originally came from Jakarta, this steamed rice is cooked in coconut milk that lends a savoury taste and distinctive aroma.
Cooked with coconut milk and turmeric, nasi kuning or yellow rice was originally served in the form of a cone called tumpeng during special events. Over time, however, nasi kuning has evolved into a common Indonesian rice dish that is widely sold by hawkers at the roadside. It’s usually served with a variety of side dishes that includes shredded omelette, tempe orek, perkedel and kerupuk udang (shrimp crackers) or emping (melinjo crackers).
Also known as nasi rames or nasi begana, nasi campur (mixed rice) is a ubiquitous dish around Indonesia and comes in various forms in each region in the country. There is no specific rule and recipe of what makes a nasi campur, but commonly this Indonesian rice treat consists of a scoop of white rice and some accompanying dishes, such as vegetables, meats, kacang teri, sambal and crackers.
Literally means “cat’s rice” in English, the name of nasi kucing is derived from its tiny portion – akin to the portion of rice that Javanese serve to a pet cat. It originated from Yogyakarta, Semarang and Surakarta but has spread to other cities across the country. Wrapped in banana leaves, a portion of nasi kucing usually comes with a selection of toppings from shredded omelette and tempe orek to shredded chicken and fried anchovies.
Cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth, salam leaves and lemongrass, nasi liwet boasts a distinctive aroma and succulent taste. It’s served with a slice of omelette, tempeh, telur pindang (eggs boiled slowly with spices), shredded chicken that had also been cooked in coconut milk and a spoonful of kumut (coconut cream).
The mouth-watering nasi ulam is actually a feature of Malay cuisine but is commonly found in Indonesia. There are two types of nasi ulam in Jakarta: the soupy one that can be found in northern and central Jakarta, and the dry nasi ulam that is commonly sold in south Jakarta. Both are usually served with assortment of side dishes, such as dendeng (beef jerky), shredded omelette, perkedel, tempeh, fried tofu and crackers. To give an aromatic scent, nasi ulam is cooked with various herbs, such as kemangi (lemon basil) or pegagan leaves.