What Is Nasi Uduk?

Lakshmi Sandhana

Nasi uduk is a type of spice-infused steamed rice that is very popular in Indonesian cuisine. The name literally translates as "mixed rice" because it is served with many different types of side dishes. It has its origins in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and is eaten widely around the country mostly for breakfast. Many roadside vendors serve nasi uduk exclusively, sometimes in a paper cone, with an astonishing array of accompaniments, all for a little pocket money. It is made differently in various areas and is considered to be quite similar to nasi lemak, the national dish of Malaysia.

Nasi uduk is sometimes served along with deep-fried shallots.
Nasi uduk is sometimes served along with deep-fried shallots.

The most common ingredients are rice, lemongrass, bay leaves, and coconut milk. The rice is washed, drained, and steamed until it is partially cooked. The coconut milk is boiled with the bay leaves and salt and then poured into the rice until it's covered. The mixture is stirred on a low flame until the coconut milk is completely absorbed, and the rice is further steamed until it's done.

Nasi Uduk is a form of steamed rice popular in Indonesian cuisine.
Nasi Uduk is a form of steamed rice popular in Indonesian cuisine.

While all this sounds simple, cooking nasi uduk can be quite laborious. It requires a great number of side dishes. Some people serve it with leftover dishes from the previous day when cooking it at home to avoid spending huge amounts of time preparing every side dish from scratch.

Authentic nasi uduk comes with a delicious assortment of side dishes, such as roasted coconut flakes called serundeng, eggs that are boiled, fried, or in the form of omelettes, and fried tempeh or soybean cakes. Fried chicken, shrimp and vegetable fritters, tofu, and fried vermicelli are also served with this fragrant rice. Some other side dishes include bawang goreng or deep-fried shallots, dried anchovies, and shrimp skewers. Garnished with daun kemangi, an aromatic parsley, or sliced cucumber or peanuts, this dish is a feast for both the eyes and senses thanks to the additional side dishes.

Some restaurants like to serve the rice in a banana leaf and with various types of sambal, such as sambal badjak, a sweet chili paste, for additional spiciness and sambal kacang, which contains peanuts. Emping crackers, prawn crackers, and sour soup are other items that may come along with nasi uduk. While it is popularly eaten for breakfast, it can also be found throughout the day served by roadside vendors who sell the dish to schoolchildren at noon or office goers late in the evening. The dish also has a few variants, the most popular being nasi uduk slipi, which is infused with a little cinnamon.

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