nasi kuning zoomed

Nasi Kuning: a King-Like Rice Dish

Last Updated on July 9, 2024 by Damian

Welcome to another great recipe! This time it’s about nasi kuning, an absolutely great way of preparing rice! Personally, I don’t really use plain white rice at all as this way of making rice is just so much nicer!

To make nasi kuning, simply fry some garlic in oil. Next, add the raw rice and turmeric powder and fry lightly before adding coconut milk and water. Boil the substance with kaffir lime leaves until all moist has evaporated, leave to settle for at least 15 minutes and enjoy this wonderful nasi kuning!

I must note not to use a rice cooker for this recipe, use a pot because there is an initial frying step. If you need more info on what pot to use, find it here.

What is nasi kuning?

Nasi kuning originates from Indonesia and is translated in English to ‘yellow rice’. It is often served at important festivities, but why not enjoy this great Indonesian yellow rice more often? The yellow color comes from the turmeric which has some great health benefits as well!

Use nasi kuning in combination with a variety of side dishes to really stay with tradition! The yellow rice already has a great fragrant aroma, combined with other great dishes from Indonesian cuisine you will make a meal that is very irresistible. Let’s see how to make nasi kuning!

Step 1: Choose the ingredients

nasi kuning zoomed

Nasi kuning

Nasi kuning, great yellow rice to combine with your favorite rice recipes!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Rice dish
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 4 large servings


  • 400 g pandan rice (or your favorite)
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 100 ml water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 3 kaffir leaves


  • Choose the ingredients
  • Chop and fry the garlic
  • Boil the nasi kuning
  • Serve and conserve
Keyword Nasi kuning

What to consider when choosing the ingredients

This is such an easy recipe, I kept the ingredients list short and still managed to have an amazing dish! Pick any rice you want I would say, next time I’ll make it with brown- or whole grain rice. Just to consider health a bit more.

Coconut milk and turmeric are essentials in this dish I would say. Choose a low fat coconut milk for a more healthy option, use creamy coconut milk (what I did) to have a more creamy nasi kuning.

I decided to make a garlic variant because I really love garlic rice in general. I’ve made a variation of garlic turmeric rice before, check it out here.

The garlic, turmeric and kaffir leaves combination is out of this world! I really love kaffir leaves and implementing them in this dish was such a good choice. I can only highly recommend implementing this nasi kuning when making rice dishes!

Traditionally, lemon grass and galangal are used in nasi kuning, consider trying them out as well! In general, I can encourage you to implement your favorites spices in this easy recipe. It’s hard to go wrong!


If you made your own variation, be sure to let me know! Let’s continue with the steps on how to make nasi kuning.

Step 2: Chop and fry the garlic

As I said this recipe is very easy, consider making nasi kuning a day in advance to have the best result. If you don’t have the time, wait at least 15 minutes before eating!

Properly wash your rice before you start! Rinse the rice in plenty of water until the water runs clear, this is very important!

Continue by chopping the garlic finely, add a cooking pot to medium heat and add some (sunflower) oil. Fry lightly and add the rice and turmeric. Stir well!

frying garlic
frying raw rice and turmeric

Lightly fry the raw rice before adding the coconut milk. Be careful not to burn the garlic or rice, a cooking pot usually has a very thin bottom so heat transfers very quickly! I recommend reading up a bit on what pot to get for cooking rice and how to do it. I’ve written about it here.

Step 3: Boil the nasi kuning

When you’ve given the rice and garlic a couple of minutes, add the coconut milk, water and kaffir leaves. You want the moist to cover the rice with about the height of your last fingerbone! This will ensure perfect cooking of the rice.

You want the moist to evaporate just before you turn off the heat, timing is essential!

This can be quite a delicate process but be sure to perfect this. This is very important to become a skilled chef!

bringing ingredients to a boil
boiled nasi kuning

To perfectly cook the rice, bring the pot to a boil on medium/high heat. I depends on your heat source and cooking pot, you just don’t want the bottom rice to burn so bring it to a boil somewhat slowly.

When boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover, you want a slight simmer and leave the moist to completely evaporate. At the exact time turn off the heat, for me this is about after 10 minutes of boiling.

Take off the lid and stir with a fork immediately. Cover the pan as soon as possible and leave to settle for at least 15 minutes! Don’t lift the cover during this time.

When the moist has evaporated and you leave it for 15 minutes, the rice has time to soak up the remaining moist, obtaining it’s fluffiness and great taste (which shouldn’t be watery). Together with the creamy texture from the coconut milk, this rice will get an amazing structure!

served nasi kuning

If successful, you will taste rice like you’ve never done before! The steps are very easy but the timing might take some practice, perfect this!

Step 4: Serve and conserve

I hope this amazing recipe worked out for you, I’ve served this dish with terong balado. It worked out great and I can only highly recommend you do the same! Add more side dishes and you really have a feast. I can recommend different (vegetarian) side dishes I’ve recipes for:

Add some sambals as well:

Conserve the rice in the refrigerator for a day to really get the best result, freeze in serving sizes if you want a convenient way to have great rice with your meals! Try out different rice dishes if you like this one:

I hope you enjoyed this great rice recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments below and please leave a rating!


What does yellow rice mean in Indonesia?

Yellow rice, or nasi kuning, holds great cultural significance in Indonesia. The yellow color represents joy, prosperity, and power. It is often served during weddings, birthday celebrations, and other important events. The dish also holds religious significance, as it is commonly served during traditional ceremonies and offerings to the gods.

Why is nasi kuning yellow?

The yellow color of nasi kuning is achieved by adding turmeric powder to the cooking process. Turmeric is a spice that is well-known for its vibrant yellow color. When added to the rice, it gives it a golden hue and a mild, earthy taste.

What is in nasi kuning Manado?

Nasi kuning Manado is a variant of the dish that originates from North Sulawesi. It is typically served with a variety of side dishes, such as spicy shredded chicken, sambal, and fried tofu. The rice is flavored with coconut milk, lemongrass, and other spices, which give it a distinctive aroma and taste.

What is the significance of yellow rice?

Yellow rice is an important part of Indonesian culture and is served during many special occasions. The dish symbolizes joy, prosperity, and power, and is a way of celebrating important events with loved ones.

Where is nasi kuning from?

Nasi kuning is a traditional Indonesian dish that is eaten throughout the country. It is believed to have originated in Java, but has since spread to other regions, each with their own unique twist on the recipe.

Is nasi kuning healthy?

Nasi kuning is made with natural ingredients, such as turmeric, coconut milk, and rice. These ingredients are rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy dish. However, like any dish, it should be eaten in moderation as it may be high in calories.

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