Grilled Fragrant Rice

I went through my stored photos and found pictures of these children I came across in some nursery up in the highland of Brastagi, about 2 hours drive away from the city. They were really adorable, running around in the dirt road, in their parents’ gigantic succulent and cactus nursery. I think children always make the best photo objects – they don’t know how to pretend, yet. They don’t know which side is their good side. And they don’t know how to smile in any other way than what they do, everything is more sincere.

The children were playing with their dog, when I met them. As usual, the dog was near impossible to shoot. Every other shot was out of focus.

Aside from the national dish of Nasi Goreng Indonesia that actually make use of day-old rice, they can be used to make grilled fragrant rice. Add some herbs and spices in cold rice, wrapped them up in banana leaves and bake or grill. Not something that is utterly brilliant, but it can be quite interesting dish for South East Asian themed brunch!

The rice is also known as Nasi Bakar, and is served with other traditional Indonesian dishes such as grilled chicken, tamarind soup, sambal belacan, The grilled rice was very popular a couple of years ago. I remember one of the stalls got so many customers, one of our friends was queuing up in line for a couple of hours during lunch time rush just to bring us these tiny rolls of rice with some fried chicken. I can’t remember when exactly the fad evaporated or where that stall is, but it is not that difficult to make so I am the least worried about that stall.

The spices used to cook the rice would be the ones easiest to find and cost the least. Basil, lemongrass, salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaves). I wanted the rice to be really tasty, so I took the highway by sprinkling some chicken powder in the mixture. All the herbs used were grown in our front yard.

A bunch of kaffir lime leaves.

A couple of stalks of lemongrass and basil.

And the untouchable, chicken powder.

Some day-old rice or cold rice.

Heat wok over low heat and toss in all the herbs.

Season with salt.

Add the chicken powder into the wok.

When the ingredients are mixed well and herbs are slightly wilted, add rice into the wok.

Stir-fry everything together, until the ingredients and spices are evenly distributed.

Remove from heat and transfer to a big bowl.

Place two cups of prepared rice on a couple of sheets of banana leaves.

Roll it up. Not too loose nor too tight.

Clamp the end of the roll.

Use a piece of toothpick to hold the end together.

Do the same on the other end.

The recipe called for will make around 8 rolls of grilled rice.

Put them in a preheated oven. Stove top grilled pan can also be used. Or grill them on open fire.

The heating part is to soften the leaves and lightly infuse the rice with nutty banana leaves. When the leaves turn lighter green, remove from heat.

Serve with other condiments, such as coconut flakes, eggplants with chili or spicy tempeh.


Fragrant Grilled Rice, Nasi Bakar

Makes 4 servings


10 g kaffir lime leaves
20 g basil, remove the hard stalks
2 stalks lemongrass, halved and lightly bruised
8 g chicken powder (optional)
1 tsp salt
800 g rice, cold
banana leaves, for wrapping


Stir-fry kaffir lime leaves, lemon basil and lemongrass over medium heat in a wok.
Season with salt and chicken powder.
Add rice into the wok. Stir-fry until all the spices and seasonings are evenly distributed, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Roll about 2 cups of rice in a couple of sheets of banana leaves. Fasten both ends with toothpicks.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or grill on stove top for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with chili-based dishes.

| More |

11 Responses to “Grilled Fragrant Rice”

  1. 1

    Christine — March 1, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

    My goodness… Brastagi, how I miss eating durian right at the stall.

  2. 2

    Min {Honest Vanilla} — March 2, 2011 @ 2:53 am

    such simplicity and looks so good! making me hungry~ banana leaf wrap makes the rice so much better :)

  3. 3

    Ivy @ My Simple Food — March 2, 2011 @ 11:54 am

    I have never had this but I can almost smell how lovely all the ingredients will infused into the rice. Great recipe.

  4. 4

    Cooking Gallery — March 3, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    You know what, my whole life, I have never tried nasi bakar, but this sounds interesting and I would love to try this one day…!

  5. 5

    Maria @ Scandifoodie — March 3, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

    Great photos! I’ve never tried this dish, but I’m very intrigued!

  6. 6

    Kimberley — March 4, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

    I love this! It’s so different from how I cook rice – and totally inspiring.

  7. 7

    Nadia — March 5, 2011 @ 2:23 am

    This looks so delicious!
    We are coming to Indonesia for a month in june :) )) Can’t wait to try all these indonesian treats and cook with banana leaves! :)

  8. 8

    something_good — March 6, 2011 @ 2:17 am

    I’ve had this only once when I was visiting SE Asia and I loved it! In fact, anything served on a banana leave is exceptional :)
    great photos!

  9. 9

    pigpigscorner — March 6, 2011 @ 10:03 am

    You still got a nice shot of the dog!
    The rice looks and sounds delicious, fried and grilled – YUM!

  10. 10

    Arudhi@aboxofkitchen — March 9, 2011 @ 7:21 am

    Waaah…never tried this one. Nasi bakar, is it? Going to try it out, with bamboo leaves I suppose. Thanks!

  11. 11

    envie recipes — March 16, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    Such beautiful photographs and wonderful sounding recipes. I have really enjoyed visiting your blog and look forward to making some of these dishes. Thanks!

Leave a Comment