Nasi Kuning – Indonesian Yellow Party Rice

Nasi kuning is yellow rice and is eaten in Indonesia during festivals; anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, or a holy party of any kind.

The rice is flavored with santen (coconut cream), kunjit (turmeric), salam, pandan, jeruk purut, lemongrass and salt. I’ve learned all sorts of ways to make yellow rice and usually it takes some time.

But my own recipe is different. This recipe is enough for about 4 people and is done in 60 minutes (steam for about 20 minutes and rest for 30 minutes). I use my regular electric rice steamer. So easy!

Check out my video to see how I make it or read on for the recipe in text and pictures.

Nasi Kuning

  • 350 grams of pandan rice
  • 1/3 block of santen (coconut cream) or 300 milliliters of coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon kunyit (turmeric) powder or 30 grams of fresh kunyit
  • 4-5 leaves jeruk purut (lemon leaves)
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 1 sereh (lemongrass)
  • 1 salam leaf (Asian bay leaf)
  • water
  1. Wash the rice three times
  2. Grind the kunyit – turmeric- with a bit of coconut milk into a yellow soup
  3. Add in the pan (from an electric steamer) the rice, the ground kunyit mix, the rest of the coconut cream or coconut milk, the leaves (salam and jeruk purut), the sereh (lemongrass), one long pandan leaf, and half a teaspoon of salt.
  4. Add water until the fluid is one phalange above the rice.
  5. Place the bowl in the steamer and steam on regular setting (takes about 20 minutes).
  6. When done leave the rice in the rice cooker for another 20 – 30 minutes.
  7. Take out the leaves
  8. Now scoop it through until all the coconut milk is well distributed.
  9. Add it in to a mold, place it on a plate and decorate.

I use about 75 grams of rice per person but I always add a bit more for hungry stomachs or unexpected guests.

I love pandan rice. It’s used in Thai cuisine a lot too. I buy it at my supermarket. Pandan rice has the same flavor as the pandan plant.

Rice steamer

I usually use my electric rice steamer to make rice and today it is not different. I want to show you how to make nasi kuning the easy way.

In the picture you see I use kunyit powder. This is an even faster way of making nasi kuning. If I cannot get fresh turmeric I use turmeric powder. The white block is santen. That is coconut cream. You can replace this with 300 milliliters of coconut milk.

Finger trick

Then the finger trick! Make sure your rice is neatly distributed across the bottom. Then fill the pan with water and measure with your fingertip (pinky).

Place your pinky underwater just one phalange deep. When you feel the rice touching your finger and only your fingertip is under, enough water is added.

This always works! You do not have to measure milliliters. So no matter how many people are staying for dinner, your fingertip will tell you there is enough water in the pan.


I mix the kunjit through my rice well. Now I place the pan in my electric cooker and choose regular steaming for white rice (for this amount it takes about 20 minutes). I leave my rice in for another 20 – 30 minutes on ‘keep warm’ setting. This will give the rice some time to take in even more of the flavors.

When done, I open the lid, take out the herbs and mix the rice gently. This way the santen are mixed in even better.

Banana leaf

I decorate my rice bowl with some banana leaf (I buy at my local Asian store- they keep banana leaves in the freezer). The green and yellow colors work great together.

I let my leaves defrost completely and I cut a nice piece with scissors. I pour over boiling hot water and rub it dry with a tea towel to let the oil in the leaf make it shine.

I sometimes leave the sereh (lemongrass) in the rice; it looks authentic and the grass stalk will flavor it even further.

Nasi kuning tumpeng

I decorate the top with some hot peppers and serundeng. For a party make the rice into a nice cone shape and decorate with cucumber, peppers pandan and banana leaf. This cone is called a tumpeng.  Then the oldest person at the party can scoop the top off and the (food)party can start!

Check out Google to admire the most amazing tumpeng display!

I’m tried to make a real simple decorated one; he looks happy! Selamat makan! Oh, by the way we eat our nasi kuning today with rendang and sambal goreng buncis peteh ;-).

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2 Responses

  1. May says:

    *How many ML is the coconut cream?

    • Pauline Chavannes de Senerpont Domis says:

      If you not use santen, than add about 300 ml coconut milk, but always do the ‘fingertrick’ to know if there is enough water/coconut milk in the pan.

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