Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

Nasi Goreng is an Indonesian style of fried rice. Completely different from the Thai fried rice, nasi goreng is spicy and more savoury and just SO DELICIOUS!

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This dish is a tribute to my dear father, who has given me so many things to be grateful for throughout my entire life. This recipe is one of those things and therefore incredibly close to my heart. Ever since he passed away, this comfort food has reached a whole new level of ‘comfort’, where it would bring back memories of eating this at my parents house surrounded by loved ones and family banter. Without getting too emotional; My (half-Indonesian/half-Dutch) grandmother is born and raised on an Indonesian island called Java, has lived in a refugee camp on Bali for a couple of years during WWII, reunited with my (Dutch) grandfather who has been a prisoner of war in Thailand after the war. (He worked on the bridge over the river Kwai, if anyone ever seen that movie.) And eventually they both moved to the Netherlands where my father was born.

Without leading you to far astray; The rumors are that my grandmother used to be an amazing cook when it came to Indonesian food. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to witness it, but I’m so incredibly grateful that she shared her Nasi Goreng recipe with my father and that we are able to keep a piece of her and for me, my dad in our family.

What defines Nasi Goreng from other fried rice dishes?

My father explained to me that Nasi Goreng is usually made out of whatever was left over and needed to be used. Therefore, there is no strict recipe, but there are a couple of ingredients that definitely define the flavour of Indonesian Fried Ride, which are:

1. Koenjit (ground turmeric)

Turmeric is a deep, golden-orange spice known for adding color, flavor and nutrition to foods. A relative of ginger, turmeric comes from the rhizome (root) of a native Asian plant and has been used in cooking for hundreds of years. The list of the health benefits of turmeric go on and on. Read here how turmeric has major benefits for your body and brain.

2. Djahé (ground ginger)

Ginger is a flowering plant whose root is widely used as a spice and a folk medicine. Being from the same family as the turmeric, ginger also provides a lot of health benefits. Read more about the benefits of ginger here.

3. Laos (ground galangal)

Galangal is also from the same family as the ginger and turmeric, looks very much like ginger, but really has its own flavour. Also the texture is completely different and is commonly used in the Thai, Indonesian and Malay kitchen. Read about the health benefits of galangal here.

4. Sambal oelek

Sambal Oelek is a spicy Indonesian chili paste made with hot red peppers, salt and vinegar. With so many different brands and recipes, I am still having trouble finding a sambal oelek that is close to the one I bought in the Netherlands. I avoid the typical Asian ‘supermarket brands’ like Go-Tan and Conimex for instance. To be honest, I have tried it once, because Indonesian food and ingredients are atrocious to find in Mackay (even when I go to an Asian grocerie store!) and it must be the first time ever I threw away food because it tasted awful. Whenever I decide to take a shot at making it myself, I will definitely keep you posted!
* However, if you can recommend a brand of Sambal oelek which isn’t too spicy or too sour and available here in Australie, please let me know in the comments!

5. Kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)

Kecap Manis is commonly known as sweet soy sauce is a sweetened aromatic soy sauce, originating in Indonesia, which has a darker color, syrupy consistency and a molasses-like flavor due to the generous addition of palm sugar. Personally, my favorite brand is ABC, but feel free to use whichever one you like.

6. Garlic

Unless I’m making something like a peanut butter sandwich, I think I might be using garlic for everything! Garlic is essential in my kitchen and also in the Nasi Goreng. Did you know garlic is healthy for you too? Read it here.


Typically, this dish is served with shredded omelette and/or sunny side up egg and Acar (Indonesian pickled vegetables). However, as I grew up, we usually served it with sweet and sour dill pickles. It gives the same acidity and perfect for when you can’t stand the smell of pickled cabbage while it’s cooking.

You can always add more sambal oelek if you want it more spicy or cucumber to extinguish the heat a bit.

Are you a fan of some crunch? Then I suggest to serve it with prawn crackers and/or fried onion. The options are literally endless!

Tip for kids!

When it’s too spicy for the kids, (my youngest one does not have a high tolerance for spicyness at all) I serve this dish with Serundeng Sedap. It’s a dry mixture of dessicated coconut, peanuts, sugar and spices.

Ingredients Nasi Goreng

For the rice we’ll need:

  • 600 gr cooked rice (250 gr uncooked)
  • 1 chicken fillet (or any protein of choice)
  • 1/2 sugarloaf cabbage
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground galangal
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1/3 cup sweet soy sauce



  • Eggs
  • Sambal oelek
  • Salt

Other Condiments:

  • Pickles (dill or sweet and sour) (optional)
  • Acar (optional)
  • Cucumber (optional)
  • Sunny side up egg (optional)
  • Serundeng Sedap (optional)
  • Prawn crackers (optional)
  • Cassave crackers (optional)
  • Fried onions (optional)

Cooking instructions Nasi Goreng

The preparation

Preparation is key! The first thing you will want to do, is to start gathering and cut or chop the ingredients you need.
This way you make sure you’ve got everything you need is in stock and within reach and ready to toss in.
My rice was already cooked, because I always cook fried rice with left-over rice. This is ideal, because the grain has dried out a bit, with the result that it won’t clump together and will soak up more liquid and therefore more flavour.

Nonetheless, if you haven’t cooked any rice yet, I suggest to start with cooking the rice first.

Making the fried rice

In a seperate pan, melt some butter and fry the chicken with salt and pepper ( I like to be generous with the s&p) until its nice and brown on the edges and pour in a little bit of water. When the water has a gravy-like texture, turn off the heat and set aside.

For the next step, melt some butter in the wok pan and add the onions and the garlic. Stir until the onions are transparent and add the sugarloaf cabbage. This might look like a lot of cabbage, but it will simmer down slowly on medium low heat. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see in the picture, but by spreading the cabbage out over as much surface as possible, this process will take about 5 minutes. Don’t add water though, otherwise it’ll be too liquidy when we add the rice.

Once the cabbage looks transparent and brown on the edges, add the turmeric first, this will give everything a nice yellow color. Then add the ginger powder and galangal powder. Stir through and add the chicken.

At this stage the kitchen should be filled with beautiful aromas already and then we’re ready to stir through the sambal oelek. After that, add the rice, soy sauce and the sweet soy sauce. After this is all stirred together until there’s no white rice grain to be seen, the stove can be turned off. Add a generous amount of salt to prevent it from going off. (Although this is something my dad always taught me, it probably goes back to the time when we didn’t have fridges.) Ideally, this dish is to be made in the morning and served in the evening, so it has more time to induce the flavours. I just love eating the left overs te next day, because it tastes even better then.

The omelette

To make the omelettes nice and thin, we make four all up. Whisk one egg with a 1/4 tsp of sambal oelek and some salt and fry them om both sides in a frying pan. Repeat this four times, then cut the omelettes in strips.

Dish up with your condiments of choice and it’s all done!

Bon Appetit, eet smakelijk and enjoy your dinner!

Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng is an Indonesian style fried rice, which is spicy and savoury, served with pickled condiments and an omelette.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Wok pan
  • 1 Fry pan


Fried rice

  • 600 grams cooked rice (250 gr uncooked)
  • 1 chicken fillet in small dices
  • 1/2 sugarloaf cabbage cut up small, heart removed
  • 2 onions diced
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground galangal
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1/3 cup sweet soy sauce
  • salt to taste


  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • salt to taste


Nasi Goreng

  • Cook the rice, unless you have leftover rice
  • Cut the chicken in small cubes
  • Melt some butter and/or oil in the frying pan and cook the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • When the chicken has a brown edge to it, extinguish with a bit of water to prevent the chicken from drying out
  • When the water has turned to a bit of a slurry, turn the heat off and set the pan aside for now
  • Heat up the wok pan and melt some butter
  • Add onion and garlic and stir until the onions look transparent
  • Stir the sugarloaf cabbage through and cover the wok as much as possible with the mixture to make the cabbage shrink and brown quicker.
  • Stir every couple of minutes, repeating the process until the cabbage has shrunk
  • When the cabbage has a bit of a brown edge, add the turmeric and stir
  • Then stir the the ground ginger and ground galangal through
  • By now the mixture feels a bit dry, so add the sambal oelek and the chicken
  • Stir it all through and add the sweet soy sauce
  • Once it's stirred together, add the rice
  • Stir until all the grains of rice are covered with the sauce
  • Add a generous amount of salt, stir through and turn off the heat


  • Whisk one egg in a bowl with 1/4 tsp of sambal oelek and salt to taste
  • Spray a frying pan with some oil and bake the omelette on both sides
  • Repeat 4 times
  • Roll them up like a pancake and cut in slices


  • Plate up with your favorite condiments
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