Nasi Kuning - Yellow Spiced Rice

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Oh how fragrant the whole house smells when we cook this rice. And not necessarily of the pungent jarring seed spices, but rather the soft aromas of leaves ... lemongrass, pandan and salam leaves.

We are all guilty of wolfing down this rice on its own because of how delicious it already is. But to enjoy it like a local, have it with tempe, omelette, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. But of course, no Indonesian rice dish can be truly spectacular without the addition of fried shallots, because the crispy umami flavour it imparts truly takes it to another level.

Nasi kuning's supporting cast usually include sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, sambal goreng tempe, perkedel jagung (corn fritters), omelette, and maybe roast chicken on ocassion. We find that the aromatic flavours are enough to hold its own and often make it as a vegetarian meal. On its own, nasi kuning is most definitely vegan, and gluten-free ;)

It's interesting to note that Nasi Kuning in its 'Tumpeng' or cone shaped form (along with its supporting cast) is a celebratory meal that is featured in weddings, birthdays and major occasions. And for this Thanksgiving, we adopted this 'slametan' style of feast, which literally translates to 'gratitude celebration' as our Thanksgiving meal.

Traditionally, one would use a woven bamboo 'tampa', or platter, where the rice would be formed into a cone in the middle, symbolizing the mountains where ancestral spirits lived. Various accompaniments would be arranged around this mountain of rice. Custom dictates that there would be a meat from the sea, a meat from the land, and eggs to symbolize a winged beast. Vegetables, usually spinach, would also take stage as an offering of the plant kingdom. There is a lot of history and folklore surrounding this tumpeng. So much so that it was recently elevated into an Indonesian culinary icon status.

4 cups jasmine long grain rice
2 cups coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass
4 salam leaves
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground coriander seed (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced

1. Wash rice, rinse and drain.
2. Add all the ingredients into the rice cooker, along with the rice.
3. Add enough water to reach the required 4 cup line, as marked on the rice cooker. Stir and try to 'sink' the leaves into the rice (as opposed to letting it float on the surface).
4. Cook as 'white rice' and wait for the beep.

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