I’m super excited to present this recipe for Nasi Kuning and Urap Urap Sayur to you all!
Nasi Kuning refers to a simple yellow rice that hails from Indonesia, prepared on special occasions like weddings, festivals and parties. The yellow colour comes from turmeric that is added to the rice, fragrant with the use of aromatics like bay leaves, pandan, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Considering Nasi Kuning is quite mild-tasting, it is served with very flavourful sides such as Urap Urap Sayur. This is a delicious spicy salad with stir-fried vegetables and a shredded coconut dressing, with notes of tangy and sweet – all in all, a flavour bomb.
How this Indonesian meal came about
The husband and I are big fans of Pan-Asian food, and enjoy home-cooked Thai food often. Thailand occupies a special place in our hearts, and I learnt to cook Thai for this very reason. When I recently got my hands on some fresh pandan leaves, I was reading up online for ways to use them, and came across a recipe for Nasi Kuning. Soon, I was reading about Urap Urap Sayur, one of the popular accompaniments to the rice dish in Indonesia. I was fascinated, and realisation dawned that, maybe, it was time to delve deeper into an Asian cuisine other than Thai. I went on to cook the rice-vegetable duo recently, and it was such a huge hit at home that I have made it thrice already. 🙂 I’m so glad this meal happened, and there is definitely more in store!
Indonesia, especially Bali, has long been on our list of places to visit. We are fascinated by the country, with its lush rice terraces, ancient temples and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. The fact that the country has several delectable vegetarian and vegan foods to offer added to its allure. The pandemic has ensured that we cannot travel to Indonesia any time soon, but we can definitely make an attempt to get closer to the country via its food!
How to make Nasi Kuning
I adapted this recipe to make it a pressure-cooker version. This way, it’s a breeze to cook the rice, and it’s super delicious too.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 cup rice
- 1-1/2 cup thick coconut milk
- 2-1/2 cups water
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 bay leaf
- A 2-inch piece of lemongrass root
- 1 Kaffir lime leaf
- 2 strands of pandan leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1. Wash the rice thoroughly under running water. Drain the water.
2. Now, transfer the drained rice to a wide vessel. Add in the coconut milk and water.
3. Add in the salt, turmeric powder and sugar. Mix well.
4. Tear the pandan leaves and kaffir lime leaves. Cut up the lemongrass root roughly. Add these to the rice, along with the bay leaf.
5. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
6. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, wait for 10-15 minutes to open it and get the cooked rice out.
7. Allow the rice to cool off slightly, for another 10 minutes or so, then gently fluff it up. Your Nasi Kuning is ready.
How to make Urap Urap Sayur
I used this recipe as the base, and adapted it to suit my family’s tastes. I have used vegetables commonly available in India, so mine might not be an authentic version, but it surely tastes delectable! It’s super easy to put together too.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2 small-sized carrots
- 10-12 beans
- 1/2 of a big red capsicum
- 1/2 of a big yellow capsicum
- About 1/2 cup cabbage
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 Kaffir lime leaves
- 2 green chillies
- A 1/2-inch piece of ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- Salt to taste
- 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
- Juice of 1/2 (Indian) lemon or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1. We will start by prepping the vegetables required for the salad. Peel the carrots and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Remove strings from the beans and chop them into small pieces. Remove the core and seeds from the capsicum, and chop them into small pieces as well. Chop the cabbage into long strips.
2. Keep the grated coconut ready.
3. Now, we will prepare the spice paste required for the salad. Chop up the green chillies roughly. Peel the ginger and chop roughly too. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind together the green chillies, ginger, garlic cloves and kaffir lime leaves to a coarse paste, without adding any water.
4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped carrots and beans, along with some salt. Saute for 1-2 minutes on medium flame or till they start losing their rawness.
5. Now, add the cabbage to the pan, along with the capsicum pieces, along with salt to taste. Saute on medium flame for 1-2 more minutes or till the vegetables are slightly more cooked. You can sprinkle some water if the veggies feel too dry.
6. Add in the spice paste we prepared earlier, along with jaggery. Mix well. Saute on medium flame for a minute.
7. Now, add the coconut to the pan. Saute on medium flame for a minute more. By this time, the vegetables should be cooked, but not overly so, and should retain a bit of a crunch. Switch off gas.
8. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander.
9. Mix in the lemon juice. Your Urap Urap Sayur is ready.
Serving the Nasi Kuning
In Indonesia, Nasi Kuning is traditionally served in a tall conical shape. This is believed to be very auspicious, and finds pride of place on the table on special occasions.
The yellow rice is typically served with a number of side dishes such as omelette, Sambal Goreng (fried chilli paste), Ayam Goreng (Indonesian fried chicken), Urap Urap Sayur and slices of tomato and cucumber.
I put the Nasi Kuning into two large bowls, packed it tightly, and then inverted it onto two serving plates. I then arranged the Urap Urap Sayur all around the rice, on both plates, and kept some thinly sliced ‘seedless’ European cucumbers alongside too. We had bites of the rice mixed with the spicy salad, with the cucumber slices serving as a ‘palate cleanser’.
Tips & Tricks
1. Typically, jasmine rice is used in Nasi Kuning. However, I have used Sona Masoori rice here, as I didn’t have any.
2. I have used ready-made thick coconut milk from Thai Heritage. You can also make your own at home, instead.
3. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon how grainy you would like the rice to be. The same goes for the number of whistles you allow while pressure-cooking the rice. The above recipe works perfectly for us – it yields a well-cooked, not grainy but soft rice. I have used an 7.5-litre pressure cooker here.
4. I have used lemongrass root here. However, you can use leaves from the plant too.
5. Indonesian bay leaves are traditionally used in the rice. These, I believe, are slightly different from the Indian bay leaves. However, I have used Indian bay leaves here.
6. I got the fresh pandan leaves from Trikaya Organics. In case the fresh leaves are not available, dried ones or pandan essence can be used instead.
7. You can prepare the Urap Urap Sayur in the time when the Nasi Kuning is pressure-cooking. This way, both the rice and the salad are ready to be served together.
8. Several local vegetables and greens are typically used in the Urap Urap Sayur. I prefer using carrot, beans, capsicum and cabbage in the salad – I feel they go really well. You can use coloured cabbage too, to make the salad look prettier.
9. Dessicated coconut is also often used in Urap Urap Sayur, whenever freshly grated coconut is not available. However, I prefer using fresh grated coconut, as I think it elevates the taste of the salad by several notches.
10. Adjust the number of green chillies you use in the Urap Urap Sayur, as per personal taste preferences.
11. Some recipes call for the use of a shallot or two in the Urap Urap Sayur. This is ground together with the garlic, chillies and kaffir lime leaves. I prefer to skip the shallots.
12. Galangal can be used in place of the ginger I have used in the Urap Urap Sayur. However, I prefer the taste of Indian ginger in this dish, instead.
13. Do not overcook the vegetables in the Urap Urap Sayur. They should be cooked through, but not too mushy. They should retain a little crunch.
14. The above recipes for Nasi Kuning and Urap Urap Sayur are completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. They are completely gluten-free as well.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!