How to Make Indonesian Yellow Rice (Nasi Kuning) - Chef Cynthia Louise
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Today I want to share a story about Indonesian Yellow Rice and how to make Indonesian yellow rice (Nasi Kuning).   I’m in love with this type of rice and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do. When I prepare this rice our whole kitchen fills up with fragrances of the Balinese Hindu culture, a culture that reminds me of peace and tranquillity.

Another reason why this rice is so special is its incredible story. Besides being yellow and really fragrant, this rice (we call it Nasi Kuning) represents an offering to Gods. Whenever there is a wedding, first birthdays or someone passed away, Nasi Kuning is made and it is shaped in a cone and served with a banana leaf on top. It’s really beautiful.

Let Me Teach You How To Make Indonesian Yellow Rice

The recipe is very simple and easy – rice, lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, and coconut milk and all these are matched together into a fusion of flavours.

For preparing Nasi Kuning, I use my rice cooker because it’s easy and I don’t have to be around in the kitchen and keep an eye on it. If you don’t have a rice cooker, worry not! You can still prepare this divine yellow rice by using the absorption cooking method. For those who are still newbies to cooking, this means that you bring the rice to the boil and then reduce the heat to very low, put the lid on and allow the rice to absorb all the moisture in the pot. I teach this in my online cooking classes, so if you are interested, check them out.

Now that you are settled on what cooking method you are going to use, let’s take a look at the ingredients. To start off, you’ll need some beautiful, organic, medium grain rice (side note: choose GMO-free rice).

What gives this dish its special fragrance is lemongrass. You’ll need one long stalk, smash it and tie into a knot.

A guest in almost all savoury and flavourful meals – garlic – will be needed for Nasi Kuning too. You should go with two garlic cloves, smash them and remove the peels.

That beautiful and vibrant yellow colour comes from turmeric. You have two options here – either use turmeric in the powdered form or go with turmeric juice. In case you have fresh turmeric ( which I prefer), just put it into your juicer and you’ll get fresh, beautiful juice.


How to Make Indonesian Yellow Rice (Nasi Kuning)

Indonesian Yellow Rice has a velvety, texture with a subtle, exotic hint thanks to coconut milk. Have a coconut but not milk at home and feel lazy to go to a supermarket? Make your own coconut milk – it’s easy and much better than the milk from a can.

Now that you have your ingredients ready, add them to your rice cooker, season with salt and press Play.

The end result is epic – beautiful, rich, and fragrant Indonesian yellow rice that you can eat on its own.

Indonesian Yellow Rice (Nasi Kuning) Recipe!


  • 1 cup medium Grain Rice, uncooked
  • 1 Lemongrass Stalk
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, smashed
  • 3 Tbsp Turmeric Juice*

  • 2 cups Coconut Milk
  • 2 tsp Salt

*You can use 1 tsp Turmeric Powder instead


  • Add all the ingredients to your rice cooker and stir to combine.

  • Press the Play button and cook following your cooker instructions.

  • When done, serve and EAT immediately!

Serves: 2-3

Prep time: 1 min

Cooking time: depends on your rice cooker

Freezer-friendly: No


This is a simple yet delicious and fragrant meal that you and your family are going to love. Check out my Nasi Kuning video and let me know how you liked your Indonesian Yellow Rice in the comment section.

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With love from my kitchen to yours,

Chef Cynthia xx

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About the Author

Chef Cynthia Louise is an Internationally acclaimed MasterChef, speaker, author, restaurant consultant, teacher and television presenter in wholefood, dairy-free cooking. She also has the worlds first online cooking classes focused on dairy-free plant-based whole foods with recipes that people are raving about and changing people's health, one delicious bite at a time. Chef Cynthia loves nothing more than educating people about the simplicity and vitality of a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle. Each dish is like art on a plate and her flavour combinations nourish the soul and get everyone talking.

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