Nasi Goreng

Spice Route Nasi Goreng


The first time I ate Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) was at the Bali Restaurant in Amsterdam, and it was one of many dishes on a Rijsttafel or “rice table.” The Dutch adopted the style of offering many dishes on a table that resembled a Ferris wheel during their occupation of Indonesia at the height of their involvement in the spice trade from the late seventeenth century.

I have combined the basic concept of nasi goreng with the spices from Indonesia and the west coast of Africa near Elmina, the major Dutch trading port in west Africa that sent spices, gold, palm oil, and timber to Europe and the New World.

 2 cups basmati or medium-grain rice

3½ cups chicken broth

1/4 cup oil

2 medium onions cut into ½-inch dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups cooked chicken or leftover turkey, julienned

2 Tablespoons Tsire (see recipe below)

4 Tablespoons peanut butter, chunky or smooth

1/2 cup frozen green peas, no need to defrost

¼ pound merguez (lamb sausage), Italian sausage, or smoked turkey, cubed

1 scallion, thinly sliced or 1/4 cup onions fried until golden-optional garnish

  1. Combine the rice and the broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Spread the cooked rice on a rimmed cookie sheet to cool and dry for 1 hour. May be placed, uncovered, in the refrigerator to cool faster.
  3. Make the Tsire peanut and spice mix (see recipe below). Set aside.
  4. Heat a wok or 4-quart pot over medium-high heat for 15 seconds.       Add the oil and heat for another 15 seconds. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, and add the garlic and sauté 5 minutes more or until the onions are lightly golden.       Do not burn the garlic.
  5. Add the rice, and stirring constantly, cook the rice for 5 minutes or until it is lightly browned.
  6. Add the prepared Tsire, peanut butter, peas and meats to the pot, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until heated through. Stir occasionally.
  7. Serve garnished with sliced scallions or fried onion strips.
  8. Yield: 6-8 servings

Tsire Peanut and Spice Mix

10 cloves

½ teaspoon whole allspice (about 30)

2-inch piece of cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup dry roasted or cocktail peanuts


  1. Heat a small frying pan or saucepan for 15 seconds. Add the cloves, allspice, and cinnamon and stir until the spices become fragrant. Remove from heat and grind the spices to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add contents to a small processor work bowl.
  2. Add the remaining spices and the peanuts to the work bowl and process until finely chopped. Alternatively nuts and spices can be placed in a heavy plastic bag and pounded with a rolling pin to make the mixture fairly well chopped. This method will provide a coarser texture.
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