A Dish Of Indonesian Yellow Rice Called Nasi Kunyit

Nasi Kunyit

Nasi Kunyit 3

Nasi Kunyit (meaning ‘turmeric rice’), otherwise known as Nasi Kuning (meaning ‘yellow rice’) is an Indonesian rice commonly served at local Malay Nasi Padang stores, that is, stores selling Malay dishes. Nasi Kunyit uses glutinous rice that is steamed with coconut milk, banana leaves and turmeric, the last of which gives it its bright yellow colour.

Having a pot of bright yellow dish at the dining table symbolises abundance, good wealth and good health. As such, Nasi Kunyit is an especially apt dish to use to serve one’s guests during festive seasons and celebratory occasions, such as the upcoming Hari Raya Puasa in August. Making this dish is therefore my way of giving toast and cheers to all the Muslims who will soon be celebrating the breaking of fast. Eid al-Fitr and Selamat Hari Raya!


  • Glutinous rice: 1 kg
  • Turmeric powder: 2.5  tbsp
  • Banana leaf: 1 piece
  • Coconut milk cream (thick): 250 ml
  • Salt: 1 tsp


  1. Soak glutinous rice overnight in water with turmeric powder.
  2. Drain water the next day. The rice should be stained yellow in colour.
  3. Place banana leaf on steaming tray. Place rice on top of leaves and steam 25 min.
  4. Mix coconut milk and salt together. Mix this into steamed rice.
  5. Return to steam for 20 more min.
  6. Serve hot with curry, sambal dishes or some spicy ayam masak merah.

Nasi Kunyit 2


  • Some Indonesian restaurants serve up this rice in a ‘tumpeng‘ form (conical shape), placed right in the middle of a large tray alongside several other dishes. Try this too, using a tumpeng mold, available at baking specialty stores or at the Geylang Serai marketplace.


  • This recipe was kindly adapted from the Asian Rice Dishes recipe book, written by Lee Geok Boi.

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