How often is plain white rice part of your meals? If the answer is “way too often” then you need to keep on reading because you may learn a thing or two from South Asian gastronomy. The tropical climate of this area favors the rice crops since they need high temperatures and humidity to thrive. This is one of the reasons why South Asians adopted rice as a staple food but, in this region, no rice dish is complete without spices and herbs. South Asian cuisine is all about seasoning and this is an art in itself since, when done properly, it can transform dull dishes into masterpieces. Scared of spicy or exotic flavors? Start with a little touch and you can always add more later. However, if you went too far, very hot or over-seasoned preparations are difficult to tone down.
Food that brings good fortune
Today, we brought you a traditional Indonesian recipe based on Jasmine rice: nasi kuning, which literally means “yellow rice”. It receives its color from turmeric, a powder obtained from the curcuma plant. In addition, the combination of garlic, coconut milk and lemongrass gives this dish its characteristic fragrance. But apart from that, something that makes nasi kuning a memorable experience is its presentation: the rice is placed at the center of the plate with the side dishes surrounding it. Typical sides for nasi kuning include cucumber, tomato, sweet fried tempeh, spicy shrimp, fried chicken and a mixture of vegetables with coconut. It is believed that the pile of yellow rice in the middle represented a mound of gold and thus, gave prosperity and good fortune to those who ate it.
This is why, traditionally, Indonesian families prepared it for celebrations such as weddings, birthdays and graduations. Nowadays, nasi kuning is enjoyed on a daily basis. Truth is you don’t need a special occasion to eat delicious dishes such as this!
An affordable and delicious one pot meal? Got it!
Apart from being quite inexpensive, if you hate washing the dishes this is a one pot meal, which means that it is going to save you a lot of time. Plus, it is a savory healthy and gluten-free option, even though it depends on the sides you choose. If you struggle finding some of the ingredients, we’ve got you covered! Salaam leaves may be replaced with bay leaves and Jasmine rice can be substituted with any long-grain rice. Of course, the taste will vary a bit but you can still recreate this wonderful recipe. Try it today!
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 400 gr Jasmine rice.
- 1 cup of coconut milk.
- 1 stalk of lemongrass.
- 2 salaam leaves.
- 1 tsp of turmeric.
- 1 cup of water.
- 2 garlic cloves.
- 1 tsp of salt.
- Wash the rice under tap water until it runs clear. This step will remove starch from the grains, preventing them from acquiring that gummy texture we don’t want for this recipe. Reserve.
- Crush the garlic cloves and the lemongrass stalk in a mortar. Or simply smash them with the underside of a mug. Place all the ingredients, minus the rice, in a large pot. Heat to boil.
- When ready, bring the heat to low and add the rice. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir now and again, to avoid rice from sticking to the bottom. If you notice that the liquid evaporates too soon and the rice is not ready yet, you can add some water.
- Turn off the heat and remove the garlic cloves, the salaam leaves, and the lemongrass.
- For the presentation, put the rice while it is still warm in a small bowl and pack it down as tight as you can. In that way, the rice will acquire a rounded shape. Place the rice in the center of the serving plate and arrange all the sides around it. Enjoy!
If you have a rice cooker, you can bring all the ingredients together in the first step. This wonderful device does not only reduce the cooking time but also preserves the aromas much better.
You can serve the rice in a cone-shape using aluminum foils, this is known as nasi tumpeng. You may experiment with different shapes!