Whenever Heather gets a new cookbook for the house, it’s always a good enough reason to have a celebration!
This time around, she got a really delightful cookbook, Cradle of Flavor, that dives deep into some really exquisite looking Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean recipes. Needless to say that we’re both really excited to explore many more recipes from the region as we move through this cookbook.
It was this dish for nasi kuning, however, that caught our eye first as being very exquisite. And apparently for good reason, since nasi kuning is a dish often served for special occasions in Indonesian culture.
Because of the turmeric and the goldenrod color that it yields, nasi kuning is said to resemble gold and to symbolize good fortune and wealth to whom its presented, so no wonder it’s such a hit at the big events!
The Coconut Milk in Nasi Kuning
What personally struck me most, however, about the dish in terms of its flavor profile and taste was the richness that stemmed from cooking with coconut milk. Now, as a half-Persian, I’ve seen some pretty interesting approaches to cooking rice, but this for me was the first time with adding coconut milk to cook the rice.
Rest assured, it certainly won’t be the last time I add coconut milk to cook rice. Each grain of the finished nasi kuning dish tasted incredibly decadent while also thoroughly coated with flavor… which I do suspect is a direct consequence of the coconut milk.
Plus, let’s call it an added bonus for this recipe that we can reap the tremendous health benefits of coconut milk. But that’s a topic for another day.
While the coconut milk was a fantastic addition for the rice, the nasi kuning did just as much need the other added ingredients – kaffir leaves, lemongrass, and ginger – to help balence the taste of the overall dish. Without the springy and zesty freshness that these ingredients contribute, I would suspect that rice just cooked in coconut milk would be very heavy, wholesome, and sleep-inducing.
Thankfully, it wasn’t. This nasi kuning was a perfectly balanced dish that tasted as elegantly as it looked.
A taste as special as the occasions for which it’s made, no doubt.
- 2 tsp ground turmeric (or 1.5 inch freshly chopped turmeric root)
- 1 ½ cups of uncooked long grain white rice, washed and drained
- ¼ cup water
- 1 ½ cups coconut milk
- ½ cup vegetable broth (original recipe calls for chicken stock, but we swapped)
- 1 Salam, or pandanus leaves (we substituted kaffir lime leaves here)
- 1 stalk lemongrass, thick bottom third only, outer layers discarded, inner part bruised
- 1 (2 ½ cm) fresh galangal, peeled and sliced (we substituted ginger)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine the rice, turmeric, coconut milk, water, and vegetable broth into a small pot
- Add the salam panadus (or kaffir lime) leaf, lemongrass, galangal (or ginger) and salt into the pot and put over high heat
- Bring entire pot contents to a boil
- Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes. The liquid should be fully absorbed
- Once the liquid is fully absorbed, bring heat to a complete simmer and let cook for another 5-10 minutes. The rice will dry up and become fluffy
- Remove rice from heat and fluff with a fork