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What Is Nasi Liwet?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Nasi liwet is a traditional rice dish in Indonesia, especially in Java. Rice is one of the most important staple foods in Indonesia, and it's eaten at most meals. Nasi liwet is made by slowly cooking the rice in coconut milk. It can be eaten at any time of day, and it is often cooked in the traditional way over an open fire and served on banana or teakwood leaves. It is often accompanied by chicken, boiled eggs, or vegetables.

On the Indonesian island of Java, nasi liwet is a popular traditional dish. Java is the fifth largest island in Indonesia, but it is the most populated, with about 60 percent of the country's people residing there. The people consume a typical Indonesian diet, and meals are often social occasions. Some areas of the Indonesian islands are able to produce as many as three rice crops per year.

Rice is one of the most important staple foods in the Indonesian diet. It is prepared a variety of different ways and it is eaten with almost every meal. When they gather for a meal, every person present gets a dish of rice, then he or she selects more food from an array of side-dishes and adds to the plate.

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Nasi is the Indonesian term for rice, and nasi liwet refers to one of the many ways that it is prepared in Indonesia. When preparing nasi liwet, the rice is cooked in coconut milk instead of the standard method of cooking it in water. The rice is usually cooked in a clay pot, often over an open fire. White or brown rice can be used, but white is more traditional.

Along with the coconut milk, salt, other spices, or even chicken bouillon can be added for extra flavor. The rice picks up the flavors of the cooking fluid as it is absorbed, yielding the unique taste of the nasi liwet. The rice and coconut milk mixture is usually cooked for a long time, until all of the fluid is absorbed, and then it can be steamed for an additional 35 to 40 minutes. The end result is soft, fluffy, flavorful rice that is slightly sweet due to the coconut, and it is reputed to be very filling and satisfying.

Nasi liwet is traditionally served on a banana or teakwood leaf, and many people still prefer this to plates because the leaves add to the aroma and may even stimulate appetite. It is usually served with an array of side dishes. Common accompaniments include proteins like chicken, tofu, or tempe. Slowly boiled eggs, known as telur pindang, and vegetables are also frequently served.

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