|Alternative names||Indonesian fried rice (English)|
|Place of origin||Indonesia|
|Associated cuisine||Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Netherlands|
|Main ingredients||Fried rice with pieces of meat and/or vegetables, and an assortment of seasonings such as sweet soy sauce|
Nasi goreng (English pronunciation: / /) is a Southeast Asian fried rice dish, usually cooked with pieces of meat and vegetables. One of Indonesia's national dishes, it is also eaten in Malay-speaking communities in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, and has gained popularity in Sri Lanka through migrations from the Malay Archipelago, in countries like Suriname via Indonesian immigrant communities, and in the Netherlands through its colonial ties with Indonesia. Nasi goreng is distinguished from other Asian fried rice preparations by its distinct smoky aroma, and caramelised yet savoury undertones of flavour. There is no single defined recipe for nasi goreng, and its composition and preparation varies greatly from household to household.
Nasi goreng has long been considered an important staple of Indonesian cuisine. In 2018, it is officially recognized by the Indonesian government as one of the country's five national dishes. A ubiquitous meal throughout Indonesia, particularly for breakfast, it can be enjoyed in simple versions from a tin plate at a roadside food stall, eaten on porcelain in restaurants, or collected from the buffet tables at dinner parties in urban cities like Jakarta. Premixed packaged seasonings for nasi goreng are widely available for purchase, and microwave-heated frozen versions of nasi goreng may be found in convenience store outlets throughout Indonesia.
The term nasi goreng means "fried rice" in both the Indonesian and Malay languages. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines nasi goreng as an "Indonesian rice dish with pieces of meat and vegetables added", although this dish is just as common in neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore as a cultural staple.
Similar to other fried rice recipes in Asia, some commentators have suggested that Indonesian-style nasi goreng can trace its origin from Southern Chinese fried rice, and was likely developed as a way to avoid wasting rice. The Chinese influences upon Indonesian cuisine can be seen in mie goreng that appeared simultaneously with the introduction of the stir frying technique that required the use of a Chinese wok. In China, the stir frying technique became increasingly popular during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 CE). The common soy sauce has its origin in 2nd century CE China, however, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) was developed in Indonesia with a generous addition of local palm sugar.
However, it is unclear when the people of present-day Indonesia began to adopt the practice of cooking fried rice. The trade between China and the Indonesian archipelago flourished from the era of Srivijaya around the 10th century and intensified in the Majapahit era around the 15th century. By that time Chinese immigrants had begun to settle in the archipelago, bringing along with them their culture and cuisine. Chinese people usually favor freshly cooked hot food, and it is taboo to throw away uneaten foodstuffs in their culture. As a result, the previous day's leftover rice was often recooked in the morning. Gregory Rodgers suggested that frying the rice could prevent the propagation of dangerous microbes, especially in pre-refrigeration technology in Indonesia, and also avoid the need to throw out precious food.
Writer Fadly Rahman from Padjajaran University claimed that there is no historical evidence that proves that nasi goreng is native to Indonesia, and suggested another theory besides Chinese influence: that nasi goreng was actually inspired by a Middle Eastern dish called pilaf, which is rice cooked in seasoned broth. A particular variant, Betawi-style nasi goreng kambing (goat fried rice), uses mutton or goat meat (traditionally favoured by Arab Indonesians), rich spices and minyak samin (ghee), all typical ingredients used in the preparation of Middle-eastern pilaf.
Nasi goreng was considered as part of the Indies culture during the colonial period. The mention of nasi goreng appears in colonial literature of Dutch East Indies, such as in the Student Hidjo by Marco Kartodikoromo, a serial story published in Sinar Hindia newspaper in 1918. It was mentioned in a 1925 Dutch cookbook Groot Nieuw Volledig Oost Indisch Kookboek. Trade between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies during that time has increased the popularity of Indonesian-style nasi goreng to the world.
After the independence of Indonesia, nasi goreng was popularly considered as a national dish, albeit unofficial. Its simplicity and versatility has contributed to its popularity and made it as a staple among Indonesian households—colloquially considered as the most "democratic" dish since the absence of an exact and rigid recipe has allowed people to do anything they want with it. Nasi goreng that is commonly consumed daily in Indonesian households were considered as the quintessential dish that represents an Indonesian family. It is in the menu, introduced, offered, and served in Indonesian Theater Restaurant within the Indonesian pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Howard Palfrey Jones, the US ambassador to Indonesia during the last years of Sukarno's reign in the mid-1960s, in his memoir "Indonesia: The Possible Dream", said that he liked nasi goreng. He described his fondness for nasi goreng cooked by Hartini, one of Sukarno's wives, and praised it as the most delicious nasi goreng he ever tasted.
In 2018, nasi goreng was officially recognized by the Indonesian government as one of the country's national dishes along with four others: soto, sate, rendang, and gado-gado.
Nasi goreng is distinguished from other Asian fried rice recipes by its aromatic, earthy and smoky flavour. Nasi goreng is traditionally served at home for breakfast and it is traditionally made out of leftover rice from the night before. The texture of leftover cooked rice is considered more suitable for nasi goreng than that of freshly cooked rice which may be too moist and soft to withstand frying in a wok.
Other than cooked rice, nasi goreng consists of at least three components; ingredients (e.g. egg, shrimp, meat, cooking oil), bumbu spice or seasoning (e.g. garlic, shallot, salt, chili pepper), and condiments (e.g. bawang goreng, krupuk, acar pickles, slices of fresh cucumber and tomato). The combination of spices and ingredients in different ratio creates myriad variation of flavours.
Typical seasonings for nasi goreng include but are not limited to salt, chilli pepper, spring onions, turmeric, palm sugar, bumbu paste made from ground garlic and onion or shallot, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shrimp paste, black pepper, fish sauce, powdered broth and so on. Eggs may be scrambled into the rice during the cooking process, or served as accompaniments in the form of sunny side up eggs, omelettes, and boiled eggs. Scraps of leftovers from a prepared dish, perhaps chicken or beef pieces, may also be used.
Nasi goreng often adds condiments or garnishes as add-ons. Fried shallot and traditional crackers are often sprinkled upon to give crispy texture, slices of cucumber and tomato for garnishing and to give freshness in an otherwise oily dish, a fried egg is often placed on top of the dish to add savouriness, while chili paste is to add the zesty spiciness according to one's preference. Some common condiments are:
There is no single defined recipe for nasi goreng, as every fried rice dish with certain mixtures, additions, ingredients, and toppings could lead to another recipe of nasi goreng. There is an innumerable variety of fried rice recipes described as nasi goreng in the nations of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. While many versions are perceived as regionally specific, some recipes share common elements that transcends regional and national boundaries: examples include the use of the term kampung ("village" in Indonesian and Malay), shrimp paste (terasi in Indonesian, belacan in Malay), chilli-based sambal relishes, salted fish, and the technique of wrapping fried rice in an omelette.
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According to Dwi Larasatie, an Indonesian culinary expert from the Gadjah Mada University, there are 104 types of nasi goreng found throughout Indonesia. All of them are different because they have special spices that characterise the region. Of that 104 nasi goreng variants are classified into three groups; nasi goreng whose origins can be clearly known (36 types), then some developed nasi goreng because it cannot be traced to the area of origin (59 types), and there are 9 types of nasi goreng whose basic ingredients are not only rice, but also contains additional mixture such as noodles, barley, corn, etc.
In most parts of Indonesia, nasi goreng is cooked with ample amounts of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) that creates a golden brownish colour, and the flavour is mildly sweet. A typical preparation of nasi goreng may involve stir frying rice in a small amount of cooking oil or margarine; seasoned with an ample amount of kecap manis and ground shrimp paste, and cooked with other ingredients, particularly eggs and chicken. However, in other places such as Eastern Indonesia (Sulawesi and Maluku), the sweet soy sauce is usually absent and is replaced by bottled tomato and chili sauce, creating reddish-coloured nasi goreng. This variant is called nasi goreng merah (red fried rice) or nasi goreng Makassar after the South Sulawesi capital. Some variants of nasi goreng, such as salted fish or teri Medan (Medan's anchovy) nasi goreng, do not use kecap manis at all, creating a lighter colour similar to Chinese fried rice or Japanese chahan.
The basic ingredients of nasi goreng are rice and sliced or ground bumbu (spices) mixture of shallot, garlic, pepper, salt, tomato ketchup, sambal or chili sauce, and usually sweet soy sauce. Some variants may add saus tiram (oyster sauce), ang-ciu (Chinese cooking red wine), kecap ikan (fish sauce), or kecap inggris (like Worcestershire sauce). Typically in Indonesian households, the ingredients of nasi goreng prepared for daily breakfast consist of leftovers of the previous day's meals preserved in the refrigerator, with fresh vegetables and eggs added.
Many variants are named after their main ingredients, others after their city or region of origin. Specific examples of nasi goreng include:
Indonesians also called foreign versions of fried rice simply as nasi goreng, thus nasi goreng Hongkong and nasi goreng Tionghoa/China refer to Chinese fried rice, while nasi goreng Jepang refer to yakimeshi or chahan.
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Nasi goreng is a commonly popular household dish in Malaysia. It is also can be found in restaurants and food courts in the country.
Nasi goreng variants popular in Malaysia includes:
In Singapore, nasi goreng is one of the most popular rice dishes with many variations including sausage, stinky beans, seafood, beef and chicken. Some of the variants include:
Singapore has an ethnic Chinese majority that has influenced local cuisine. Chinese fried rice recipes, such as Yeung Chow fried rice also popular throughout in Singapore.
Nasi goreng is a common rice dish in Brunei. Nasi goreng ikan masin or fried rice with salted fish is the most popular version.
Nasi goreng variants commonly popular in Brunei includes:
Nasi goreng (Sinhala: නාසි ගොරේන්) is adopted into Sri Lankan cuisine through cultural influences from the Sri Lankan Malays. It is prepared using a variety of ingredients including spices, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, white onion, shrimp, cucumber and prawns.
In the Netherlands, Indonesian cuisine is common due to the historical colonial ties with Indonesia. Indo-Dutch and Indonesians cater Indonesian food both in restaurants and as take-away. Also, take-away versions of nasi goreng are plentiful in toko Asian grocery shop and supermarkets. Supermarkets also commonly carry several brands of spice mix for nasi goreng, along with krupuk and other Indonesian cooking supplies. Chinese take-aways and restaurants have also adapted nasi goreng, plus a selection of other Indonesian dishes, but spice them Cantonese style. In Flanders, the name nasi goreng is often used for any Asian style of fried rice. Distinctive version of nasi goreng has been developed, such as Javanese-Suriname version of the dish. In the Netherlands, nasi goreng has been developed into a snack called nasischijf (Dutch for "nasi disk"), it is a Dutch deep-fried fast food, consisting of nasi goreng inside a crust of breadcrumbs.
A typical type of nasi goreng, created in the Dutch Indies by Indo-Dutch or Dutch and still eaten in The Netherlands today is made with butter and bacon or other types of pork at its base.
Nasi goreng can be eaten at any time of day, and many Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans eat nasi goreng for breakfast whether at home or at dining establishments. As a main meal, nasi goreng may be accompanied by additional items such as a fried egg, ayam goreng (fried chicken), satay, vegetables, seafood dishes such as fried shrimp or fish, and kerupuk crackers.
Nasi goreng is a popular staple served by street vendors, in warungs and also by travelling night hawkers that frequent residential neighbourhoods with their wheeled carts. When accompanied by a fried egg, it is sometimes called nasi goreng istimewa (special fried rice). Nasi goreng is usually cooked to order for each serving, since the cook usually asks the client their preference on the degree of spiciness: mild, medium, hot or extra hot. The spiciness corresponds to the amount of sambal or chili pepper paste used. The cook might also ask how the client would like their egg done: mixed into nasi goreng or fried separately as telur mata sapi or ceplok (fried whole egg) or as telur dadar (omelette). Nevertheless, some popular nasi goreng warung or food stalls may prepare in bulk due to large demand.
In many warungs (street stalls) in Indonesia, nasi goreng is often sold together with bakmi goreng (fried noodles), kwetiau goreng, and mie rebus (noodle soup).
Nasi goreng is a popular dish in restaurants. In Indonesia there are restaurant chains that specialise at serving nasi goreng.
Some seasoning brands sold in Indonesian supermarkets offer "bumbu nasi goreng", an instant nasi goreng seasoning paste to be applied upon frying leftover rice. Convenience store outlets in Indonesia also offering prepackage frozen microwave-heated nasi goreng take away.
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