Nasi is the staple of the Indonesian diet. Plain white rice is eaten at every meal—breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you didn’t eat rice, Indonesians believe that you didn’t really eat.
Beras, or uncooked rice, is the basis of many other dishes too. Lontong, is rice cooked in a special way, so that it makes a compact gooey rice cake—for lack of a better word—that are eaten primarily during special occasions instead of the usual white rice. It’s actually quite tasty, though also plain.
The accompanying vegetable and meat dishes are usually so flavorful that the plainness of the rice or lontong is very complementary. It also helps balance out dishes that are really pedas, or spicy.
There are many other sweet dessert dishes derived from rice and some varieties of krupuk, which are Indonesian’s version of tasteless, crispy rice cake. After four months I’ve learned to like krupuks, but it’s definitely an acquired taste, with zero nutritional value.
The preferred way to cook everything in Indonesia is by frying it in vegetable oil, or (insert food name) goreng. Naturally, nasi goreng is the most flavorful type of rice and it is usually served with sliced cucumber and a fried egg. Indonesians always ask me what my favorite Indonesian food is and so far, it’s definitely nasi goreng. No contest. (Except for tempe, but I’m not counting that as a dish.)
I hardly ever cook anything, so cooking even this simple dish is a huge deal and I got to make my momma proud by showing evidence of my first time cooking nasi goreng all by myself.
There are a million ways to cook Indonesian fried rice, but here’s how they do it at my house.
Nasi Goreng Recipe (Bondowoso Style)
Prep time: Depends on how fast you can chop up the ingredients. I take a long time to cut things. It also cuts a lot of time if the rice is already cooked. We use leftover rice, while fresh new rice is cooking. (*A helpful reader pointed out that it’s important to use leftover rice because it has less moisture. The full explanation is here.)
Calories: We don’t believe in counting those in Indonesia, and we’re fans of the empty calories (i.e. krupuks).
- A handful of shallots
- A handful of garlic
- 2 eggs
- A handful of red chili peppers
- One large red chili pepper
- About 5 cups of cooked rice
- Vegetable oil
- Cucumber (optional)
1) Cut the red shallots, garlic, and red chili peppers.
2) Fry all this together using a wok-like pan and about ¼ cup of vegetable oil.
4) Crack two eggs and scramble in the same wok with same, leftover oil.
5) Once the eggs are scrambled, stir in about 5 cups of cooked, white rice.
6) Stir in the ground mixture of garlic, peppers and shallots.