Nasi Kuning: Yellow Rice (Vegan)

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Nasi kuning, literally “yellow rice”, is a rice dish cooked with coconut milk, herbs and turmeric. This is a dish full of symbolism in Indonesian culture. For example, the yellow colour of the dish, which comes from the turmeric, represents piles or mountains of gold, symbolizing wealth, prosperity and virtuosity.

Because it is symbolic, nasi kuning is part of a special dish known as nasi tumpeng. This consists of the yellow rice and numerous other symbolic dishes arranged in a very specific way. Here, nasi kuning served cone-shaped to represent a mountain. Nasi tumpeng is often served on happy occasions, such as during weddings, births, birthdays, etc., as a form of prayer for wealth and prosperity.

Other than its ritualistic aspect, nasi kuning is also served in restaurants, partly for aesthetic reasons. The rice is always served cone-shaped, surrounded by different kinds of side dishes, making the plate look beautiful. It makes one’s dining experience feel special.


Nasi kuning is fragrant and savoury, but it’s not overwhelming. Serve nasi kuning with ayam goreng, sambal goreng ati, kering tempe, thinly sliced omelette and perkedel. One of the reasons I love making nasi kuning is, it infuses my rice cooker with a really pleasant aroma that lasts for a few days. It reminds me of the delicious nasi kuning, even after it’s long devoured. 

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Nasi Kuning: Yellow Rice (Vegan)

Nasi Kuning: Yellow Rice (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Rice & Noodles
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Nasi kuning is rice flavoured with coconut milk, turmeric and other herbs, giving the rice a bright yellow colour. It is eaten with other dishes, and is served in restaurants as well as in ritual dishes.


  • 300 gr jasmine rice, washed thoroughly
  • 150 ml water
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 65 ml coconut milk
  • 2 thin slices galangal
  • 1 small lemongrass, use only the white part. Light bruised, knotted.
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam)
  • 1 pandan leaves, cut into 3 


  1. Put the rice in the rice cooker pot and add the water.
  2. Add the salt and turmeric powder, stir until it is well mixed.
  3. Add the coconut milk. Stir well.
  4. Add the galangal, lemongrass, bay leaves and the pandan leaves. Stir well.

    Add the ingredients and stir well

  5. Cook the rice in the rice cooker.
  6. When done, do not open the lid immediately. Let the rice sit for another 5 minutes to set.
  7. When ready, fluff the rice and serve immediately, or shape the rice into a cone using a cone mould.


  • When shaping the rice into a cone using a cone mould, compress the rice every time you scoop it to the mould. That way the rice cone will be compact and will not crumble when you turn it over and take off the mould.

Keywords: Quick & Easy, Non-spicy, Vegan, Turmeric, Healthy

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