Nasi tumpeng is a dish of turmeric-flavored rice, bright yellow and shaped into a cone served with other traditional Indonesian dishes. I have been wanting to learn making this for a long time. The traditional cone is shaped by bamboo-weaved mould. The mould is pretty big, enough to feed 10-20 people. I am using my Royal Selangor pewter mould, perfect for shaping nasi tumpeng for one serving.

This dish has significant meaning to us, originally from Javanese culture, but now widely adapted in the country. Whenever we have something to say thanks about, it has to be present. Wedding, birthday, anniversaries, new year. The mounds of rice represents gold, and the many dishes surround it shows bountiful of food and luck.

I am not going to lie. It is a lot of work. Rice needs to be prepared overnight. The accompanying dishes are at least 4-5 dishes, and they should be chicken dish, beef dish, egg dish, green vegetables or salad. The tumpeng is always decorated with banana leaves and on top of the cone, a flower made of red chilies.

The rice I made was served with chicken rendang, chicken gizzard sambal, sambal belacan, carrots and cucumber sticks and omelette with rice crackers.

The turmeric rice is also called Nasi Kuning, or yellow rice, for a fairly obvious reason. Seasoning of rice is tamarind slices (asam potong) and fresh turmeric. Big gigantic turmeric root. The root is what gives the rice the beautiful yellow.

Wash rice grains thoroughly.

Grate turmeric. I used this archaic grating tool with little nails that looks like something out of ‘Silence of the Lamb’ movie set. We lined the grater with a thick piece of plastic so that the fibre won’t stick and easier to remove. And also, my fingers and nails are all yellow now. I tried scrubbing with warm soap but the color just wouldn’t go away.

Place grated turmeric in a muslin bag (or disposable tea bag). We only want the flavor and color out of turmeric. Using a bag instead of adding turmeric directly to rice is much better, so that you won’t get funny fibers when you eat your rice.

Combine rice, tamarind slices and turmeric in a big bowl. Add clean water.

Soak for 6-12 hours.

When you are ready to cook the rice. get rid of spice bag and turmeric slices. Drain the water off.

In a big saucepan, combine rice and 750cc water.


Cook them over high heat, covered, for about 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to avoid burning.

At the end of the cooking time, the rice would have been cooked and fluffed up, liquid would have been absorbed fully by rice grains.

Remove the rice into a steamer to finish off cooking.

The steamer we use is this traditional steamer with a lot of holes on the side. This would ensure even cooking of the rice. Oh yeah, don’t forget to fill the pot with water. Watch the water level and don’t let it touch the rice. Steam the rice over high heat for 40 minutes.

The rice is beautiful, fluffy, fragrant and most importantly, yellow. It is so yellow that I messed up with the camera setting.

The rice should be filled into the cones warm. The first try, I brushed cones with a little bit of oil and filled them with rice straight away. They were a bit difficult to get off. The second time, I lined the cones with piping bag then filled cones with warm rice. It is much better that way.

To assemble, line flat serving plates with coconut leaves. Cut the coconut leaves to the shape you desire. We love the pokey shape. Place the rice cone in the middle. I propped the rice with a small saucer to make it taller. Arrange the rest of the dishes around it. A bit of chicken rendang, some chicken gizzard sambal, sambal belachan, crackers, sliced omelette and cucumber sticks. Serve warm with cold drinks.

This post is part of Royal Selangor 30 Day Challenge, Get Your Jelly on. The special Nick Munro pewter jelly mould is provided by Royal Selangor.


Turmeric rice, nasi kuning for nasi tumpeng

Makes 8 servings


For turmeric rice
60 g fresh turmeric root, grated
8 g tamarind slices, about 5 slices
1000 g rice, washed and drained
750 g water
1 tbsp salt

For nasi tumpeng
Turmeric rice
Chicken rendang
Chicken gizzard sambal
Sambal belacan
Cucumber, cut into sticks
Omelette, sliced thinly
Rice cracker


Place grated turmeric in a muslin bag or spice bag.
Combine turmeric, tamarind and rice in a big bowl.
Add water into the bowl to cover all the rice. Leave on kitchen counter overnight, about 6-12 hours.
Drain the water off.
Place rice in a big saucepan. Add water into the pan.
Bring the rice to a boil, covered, over high heat. Cook for about 20 minutes.
Turn off heat and move the rice into a steamer to finish off cooking.
Steam over high heat for 40-50 minutes.

To prepare, line cone mould with a piece of plastic. Fill the cone with warm rice.
Press the rice hard to get them nice and firm. Pull the plastic slowly off the mould and flip the rice coned in a flat plate lined with banana leaves.
Arrange the rest of the dish around the turmeric rice.
Serve warm.

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26 Responses to “Turmeric Rice, Nasi Tumpeng #02”

  1. 1

    Sharon — October 2, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    I love how you deco your dishes! Always look forward to your posts! Awesome and delish!

  2. 2

    thoma — October 2, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    Jeez….wonderful! a lot of work obviously and have you been sleeping well enough??
    umm…you deserve a sabbatical after the “royal” thirty days!!

    those banana leaves look beautiful and the entire color scheme is damn appealing!!!

    • Jun replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 2:12 am

      Between my work and this jelly thingy, I am not sleeping well, that’s for sure. I am planning for a relaxing holiday after this, definitely!

  3. 3

    mycookinghut — October 2, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    Looks really good!!

  4. 4

    Gertrude — October 2, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

    Jun, great mind thinks alike ha ha..we made the same dish. Yours look beautiful. I agreed. It is a lot of work making this :)

    • Jun replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 2:14 am

      It is a Tumpeng Monday today alright!

  5. 5

    ChopinandMysaucepan — October 2, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    This is amazing and I definitely agree that great minds think alike Gertrude! Jun, what a brilliant effort and now you girls have got us pining for this dish after looking at so many pics between you two!

    • Jun replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 2:14 am

      Lee Mei also makes yellow rice. What a coincidence!

  6. 6

    Martyna@WholesomeCook — October 2, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    Hahaha The hats are so cute!!! Great pictures and idea for using the mould. I am yet to try hot food in mine.

    • Jun replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 2:12 am

      The hat is a must in our nasi tumpeng, along with the chili decor

  7. 7

    Nate @ House of Annie — October 2, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

    Kudos to you for taking the effort to make the yellow rice the traditional way, including all the accompanying dishes! That must have been a lot of work!

    • Jun replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 2:13 am

      It is lucky that most of the dishes I posted in the site already, so I don’t have to re-write them. :)

  8. 8

    sara — October 2, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

    So adorable!! Love the little party hats! :)

  9. 9

    Shumaila — October 3, 2011 @ 12:24 am

    Beautiful plating! Everything looks wonderful!

  10. 10

    billy @ A Table For Two — October 3, 2011 @ 1:48 am

    How festive! :) I love the little chilli hat! cte!

  11. 11

    Cheah — October 3, 2011 @ 4:12 am

    This is soooo cute! You’ve really put in a lot of effort to create this.

  12. 12

    nmw407 — October 3, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

    man, I so miss eating nasi tumpeng. I can do the rice, but all the other stuff that goes with it is too much work for me. What I really need is a real authentic Indonesian restaurant that will make individual ones like you just did.

    Love this site. It’s a little slice of home!

    • Jun replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

      I have tumpeng like 3 times my whole life. But It is a joyous occasion and very special too. Something big to celebrate. You can cheat tho, make the rice but buy the other dishes, or cook them using instant pastes. LOL.

  13. 13

    Mrs Ergül — October 4, 2011 @ 12:27 am

    This rice is indeed labourious to make! Love how it is adorned with the “party hat”!! :-)

  14. 14

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — October 6, 2011 @ 4:51 am

    Ahh nasi tumpeng. I miss this. Mom used to make it for our birthday instead of cake :)

  15. 15

    Jeanne — May 3, 2013 @ 1:09 am

    Hello Jun,

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. It definitely looks easy to make. One question though, is it normal white rice or the glutinous rice? Thanks yuh.

    • Jun replied: — July 12th, 2013 @ 2:30 am

      Normal medium grain white rice.

  16. 16

    irene — August 18, 2013 @ 2:03 am

    Hi Jun, this is such an amazing post. I love it!
    BTW, is it OK if I report your recipe and image on my blog, I am doing a post about nasi tumpeng. All credit goes to you, of course. Thanks in advance! :)

  17. 17

    Meal 78: Indonesia : United Noshes — March 11, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

    [...] Tumpeng nasi kuning | Yellow rice mountain | Recipe [...]

  18. 18

    Vincent — May 21, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

    I stumbled upon this blog today, and I’ve been gleefully looking through all your posts for the past hour! I also made tumpeng once for my farewell party, and my aunt noticed a minor decorative bummer on my presentation: the flower-resembling chili! She insisted the chili be soaked in water after it’s sliced, so that it retains the moisture that’s gonna keep it curly. I haven’t tried it again, but perhaps it’s a point worth noting. I’m gonna keep scrolling through your blog and counting down the days I’m flying back home to eat all these food. Wonderful site and keep cooking!

  19. 19

    Vaishali Sabnani — June 5, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

    What a amazing post…very well presented..Now I being a vegetarian cant have these side dishes..could you help me by suggesting me the side dishes that I could place along with this rice..I am working on Indonesian cuisine but vegetarian. I would appreciate if you could revert back right away as I have to cook the dish by tomorrow. Thanks a ton.

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