Endless varieties of Indonesian rice dishes

Indonesians sure love their rice dishes. In many parts of the archipelago – particularly in the western and central regions – rice is often seen as a major staple food and something that Indonesians cannot live without. As an agricultural country, Indonesia has wide range of paddy fields, making rice readily available everywhere and easily found seemingly on every street corner in Indonesia. The habit of consuming rice since a young age makes rice inseparable from many Indonesians' daily lives. Indonesian meals often do not feel complete without rice being served. In this article, The Jakarta Post Travel lists some of the favorite types of Indonesian rice dishes. ‘Nasi Goreng’ Nasi Goreng (fried rice) is the most famous type of Indonesian rice dish among local residents and foreigners. A version of the dish's history said that centuries ago, people used to fry leftover rice so that it could still be eaten the next day. Despite originating in China, Indonesian fried rice is popular for its sweet taste from soy sauce and its condiments of fried sunny-side eggs and either shrimp or fish crackers. There are numerous variants of nasi goreng across Indonesia. The Balinese nasi goreng, for example, has its own specially mixed spices called base gede (basic spices). For many Indonesians, nasi goreng is perfect for any meal during the day and is found practically everywhere, from the street side stalls at traditional markets to the lavish dining halls of five-star hotels and government offices. ‘Nasi Kuning’ / ‘Nasi Tumpeng’ Nasi kuning (yellow or turmeric rice) is often served during special occasions – from wedding parties and birthday celebrations to state events and official ceremonies. Its yellow color is made from graded turmeric stirred with coconut milk and cooked together with the rice, which will also lend a richer taste to the final product. On several special events, the dish is served in a yellow-cone shape popularly known as nasi tumpeng. It is usually displayed on a tampah (round woven plate) along with a combination of local side dishes, such as sambal goreng ati (spicy fried chicken or beef liver with diced potato), urap (spicy grated coconut), perkedel (fried mashed-potato) and orak-arik (scrambled eggs). The nasi tumpeng's shape symbolizes a mountain, which was believed in ancient times to bring good wealth to people, especially during harvesting time. It also represents the Indonesian archipelago, which is dominated by mountains. ‘Nasi uduk’ Instead of soaking the rice in water, nasi uduk is made by cooking the rice with coconut milk, clove and lemongrass. Nasi uduk is famous as one of Jakarta's culinary specialties, served with shredded eggs and other additional dishes. It is usually served with sambal kacang, which, despite its name, is actually made from mashed peanuts and is not very spicy. Nasi uduk is usually served as breakfast for school kids. The dish is commonly found in restaurants and street side stalls in almost every part of Indonesia. Similar to nasi uduk is nasi lemak, commonly found in Malaysia and Singapore. ‘Nasi rames’ / ‘Nasi campur’ Nasi rames or nasi campur (mixed rice) is a generic term for a number of dishes commonly found across Indonesia. It is white rice combined with numerous choices of side dishes made from beef, chicken, eggs, vegetables, sambal (mashed chili), and crackers. The side dishes are often served buffet-style so this is the best option for people who like to have their meals served as quickly as possible. The Javanese, Balinese and Minangkabau nasi rames –among many other variations— all have the same basic concept but usually differ in the side dishes offered, depending on the variety of local dishes. The Javanese nasi rames, for example, may be combined with tempe bacem (sweet tempeh) and ayam penyet (fried chicken with sambal) while its Minangkabau counterpart is served with ayam balado (spicy fried chicken). The main key is to make the rice fluffier (called nasi pulen). By cooking the rice with pandan leaves and also a squeeze of fresh lime juice, the purpose is to give a better result of a softer form of rice.

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