Nasi Goreng, (another) National dish from Indonesia

The History of Nasi Goreng

 Since hundred years ago Nasi Goreng has become a special dish for most people in Indonesia. This dish is known as a mixture of Indonesian original dish (plain rice) and some part of Chinese fried rice. The trace of chinese fried rice can be found in some ingredients which is still used until today for certain variation of Nasi Goreng. The Chinese immigrants who moved out to Indonesian archipelago at Srivijaya kingdom era and Majapahit kingdom era surely came along with their culture and cuisine to Indonesia.

Home-made Nasi Goreng Udang

Some culinary experts believed that Nasi Goreng was born at the time when the tradition of re-cooked dish (of Chinese immigrants) met with Indonesian custom dried rice which (previously) used as rice flour. From this knowledge the Indonesians started to cook dried rice instead of making rice flour and until today the re-cooked dried rice known as Nasi Goreng.

When the Netherlands settled in Indonesian archipelago, Nasi goreng also recommended for home party, breakfast and dinner. In the year 1979 Nasi Goreng became more popular since Tante Lien’s song “Geef Mij Maar Nasi Goreng” (Give me just Nasi Goreng) recorded and broadcasted either in Indonesia or Netherlands.

Tante Lien the legendary singer of Geef Mij Maar Nasi Goreng

Indonesian Nasi Goreng became a national dish along with Soto since almost all provinces in Indonesia has their own variation of it. While visiting most cities in Indonesia, we can easily find various types of Nasi Goreng and there is no boundary for Nasi Goreng to be a favorite dish (easily) since Restaurant, Traditional Food Stall and Street Food Stall always has Nasi Goreng on their Menu Book.

Main ingredients and some variants of Nasi Goreng

The main ingredients of Nasi Goreng are rice (dried one is better), shallot, garlic, pepper, salt and sweet soy sauce. Surely there are also other ingredients such as oyster sauce, ang-ciu (for chinese varian), fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce based on the variant of Nasi Goreng that you would like to cook. For the topping, the Indonesian Nasi Goreng usually served with Omelette (Telur Dadar) or Full Fried Egg (Telur Mata Sapi), Vegetables, Prawn cracker, slices of tommato or cucumber and Pickles.

Nasi Goreng must be cooked on a hot plate and for an ideal result. We have to put vegetables at the end of cooking process to ensure the moist of vegetables is not absorbed into the dried rice. Nasi Goreng is a fast (serving) food and it is only takes about 10 minutes for a chef to prepare Nasi Goreng. Here are some variants of Nasi Goreng which can be found across Indonesian archipelago and you have to try all of those variants to find the unique taste of it.

1). Nasi Goreng Special, This is an original Nasi Goreng which features chicken slice, prawn cracker and egg as the topping. Amazingly this variant can be found anywhere from Big Restaurant to Small street food stall either at day or night and looks like this one is the most favorite Nasi Goreng variant across Indonesian archipelago.

Nasi Goreng Special as breakfast menu

2). Nasi Goreng Teri Medan, if you visit North Sumatera province and stay at Medan then you should find this variant since the original Nasi Goreng Teri Medan only can be found there. Salted anchovy will accompany other ingredients to enrich the taste of this variant.

Nasi Goreng Teri Medan, the specific variant from North Sumatera Province

3). Nasi Goreng Magelangan, This one came from Central Java Province. Main topping for this variant is fried noodle which cooked along with the dried rice. Magelangan also offer spicy sauce if you like to and usually this variant only sold at night time (between 8PM to 3AM). Some people called it Nasi Ruwet (Ruwet is a situation where many things blended without certain pattern) and culinary experts explain this variant as a crossover between Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng.

Nasi Goreng Magelangan, the crossover Nasi Goreng – Mie Goreng

More than 20 variants of Nasi Goreng can be found in Indonesia and those variants are the main root of this dish. If you ask for the next generation Nasi Goreng then you can order Nasi Goreng Gila (Crazy Nasi Goreng) which born as pop culture icon in major cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Semarang and Denpasar.

Nasi Goreng was 2nd Place in CNN International online poll

Yes, this is a special achievement for Nasi Goreng which born as a humble dish. CNN International crowned Nasi Goreng for 2nd place World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods through online poll in the year 2011 (the 1st place was taken by Rendang). Even important people in this world such as the president of United States, Barrack Obama praise Nasi Goreng and say it is a delicious dish (when he came to Indonesia in the year 2010 and had a gala-dinner with the president of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono).

Nasi Goreng Kambing, popular dish for dinner

The price for Nasi Goreng dish could vary due to the variant and the place that sold it. If you buy Nasi Goreng Special from Nasi Goreng Cart (This cart usually can be found near residential area at night time) you need to prepare IDR 8000 – 10000 but if you visit a hotel and order Nasi Goreng then the price could reach IDR 30000 – 80000 for one person. So, are you ready to meet with the 2nd World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods? Well, come to Indonesia and you will get nice culinary experience from Nasi Goreng and its families.

By Amar Pujo Wicaksono

(Contributor at



One thought on “Nasi Goreng, (another) National dish from Indonesia

  1. Pingback: Soto, National Dish from Indonesia | visitingjava

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