Indonesian Rice

Indonesian Rice

Indonesia Rice is the centerpiece of Indonesia's agricultural economy and is rarely absent from a meal. Indonesian words for rice describe its state.

Rice Plantation
Padi are the live Indonesian rice plants and traditionally Indonesians believe that the padi harbors a nature spirit. A Balinese legend memorializes a sacred virgin who committed suicide rather than to give her virginity to a suitor. Her spirit remains close above the padi where her body lies buried. Villagers are respectful of this spirit and chant soothing apologies to her as the reaper harvest the padi with a small and discrete blade, so as not to frighten her.

Rice Plantation
Rice Plantation in Ubud, Bali

Beras is dried rice, ready for cooking. You can find many variations in the texture, length of grain, color and price of beras. Although natural brown rice is available, hulled white rice is vastly more popular. This seems partially due to the "clean" taste of white rice that goes with any meal. Also, without refrigeration the oil present in the brown rice bran can become rancid and spoil. White rice also cooks much faster that brown which is a consideration where fuel is costly. Today Indonesia is unable to meet its own demand for rice and imports millions of tons every year, much of it from Thailand. Jasmine rice from Thailand is also imported by most Western countries and is very similar to Indonesian rice. You can use any long-grain white rice.

Indonesian RiceIndonesian Rice

Ketan is sticky rice and it comes in white and black varieties. It can be soaked in water overnight to soften it up, or cooked directly if time is not an issue.

Ketan or Sticky RiceKetan
(Sticky Rice)

Nasi is the word for cooked rice and many Indonesian dishes begin with this word to indicate its central role. A Javanese grandmother recently wrote to the Jakarta post decrying the consumption of fast food in that city. She went on to insist that a real Indonesian woman could never feel satiated on just bread and burger; she must have rice. Nasi also gives you something to squish around in your fingers and absorb all that rich and delicious sauce.

(Cooked Rice)

The most commonway to prepare nasi is to boil the Indonesian rice with water, or sometimes with coconut milk and a spice bumbu.

Rice Cookers

This is one of few modern appliances that has quickly become a necessity with most Asians who can afford one. because the boiling point of water is a constant, a built-in thermostat cansense the rise in temperature when all the waters has been absorbed by the rice.The rice cooker will automatically switch to warming mode at this point and keep the rice fluffy and ready to eat for hours. If you're trying to make a soupy rice porridge and the cooker goes into warming mode, then you know you need to add water and set it back to cooking mode again.

Rice Cooker
Rice Cooker
Rice Cooker


Jasmine rice should be washed to rinse off excess starch. Cover with water and stir the rice around with your hand before carefully pouring the water out between your fingers. Do this several times until the water runs clear.

Measuring and Cooking

White rice needs about 1-1/2 parts water to 1 part rice. A secret to measuring the water is to fill the pot until the water level reaches the first joint of your index finger as it touches the rice.


If using a rice cooker, simply turn it on and forget about it. In a stove-top pot, wait for the water to boil before covering and lowering the heat to a simmer. Cook until the water is absorbed and dimples form in the surface of the rice (about 20 minutes). Allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Steamed Rice

For a fragrant and plump quality, cook the rice as before, but stop when the kernels are soft (about 10 minutes). Transfer the rice to a steamer, lining the bottom with a banana leaf or clean towel if necessary to keep the grains from falling through. Steam for 20 minutes.


This actually makes a fairly decent rice cooker. Just combine the water and white rice in a microwave bowl and cook on the highest setting for 5 minutes. Finish at the medium setting for15 minutes.

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