Celebration Yellow Rice (Nasi Kuning)

(recipe, James Oseland)


Generally reserved for birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries, the celebratory dish gets its vivid golden color from ground turmeric. This recipe has been adapted slightly from James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor.


  1. 2 cups jasmine rice
  2. 1½ cups water
  3. 1½ tsp. ground turmeric
  4. 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  5. 1 tsp. kosher salt
  6. 2 thick stalks fresh lemongrass, each tied into a knot
  7. 3 whole fresh or thawed, frozen kaffir lime leaves, gently crumbled to release their essence


  1. Place the rice in a 1½- or 2-quart saucepan. Fill the pot halfway with cold water. Wash and rinse the rice at least 3 times. Drain, leaving the rinsed rice in the pot.
  2. In a bowl, combine the cooking water and the turmeric. Stir well. Add the turmeric-water mixture, coconut milk, salt, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves to the rinsed rice. Stir well to combine, making sure that the lemongrass stalks and all the leaves are as fully submerged in the rice as possible.
  3. Place the pot, uncovered, over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring with a large spoon to prevent the rice at the bottom from scorching or burning. Allow the rice to boil for 15 seconds, continuing to stir to prevent scorching or burning. Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to lift or remove the lid; you’ll lose essential steam if you do.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the rice to continue to steam, covered, away from the heat, for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Open the pot and discard the lemongrass stalks and kaffir lime leaves. Gently fold the rice over with a spoon, evenly distributing aromatic flavors that may be concentrated in pockets in the rice. The dish can complement virtually any curry, stew, salad, or stir-fry. Serve hot or warm.


Tying whole stalks of lemongrass into knots and adding them to dishes as they cook is an Indonesian technique that allows dishes to be subtly perfumed without being overwhelmed by the taste of the herb. To make a lemongrass knot, cut off the hard, brown bottom end of the stalk and an inch or so of its bristly, greenish top. Next, peel away the tough (and often discolored) outermost 2 or 3 sheaths of the stalk. Then, with a heavy, flat-surfaced object, such as the base of a knife handle or the bottom of a glass measuring cup, smack the stalk down its entire length until it is pliant and juicy but not pulverized. Tie the stalk into an overhand knot as tightly as you can without breaking it (though if you do break it, you can still use it).