The Story Behind Nasi Uduk, A Culinary Icon of Indonesia’s Capital

For lifelong Jakarta residents or Betawi people as well as newcomers to the capital, uduk nasi or savory rice cooked in coconut oil and various spices is a staple food in the capital.

This mix of white rice, coconut milk, salt, as well as ground lemongrass, bay leaves, and kaffir or lime leaves has a way of whetting one’s appetite from the first bite. The combination gave nasi uduk a fluffy yet firm texture that does not stick.

Nasi uduk abon makes a winning pair with side dishes like fried chicken, sliced omelette, beef floss [abon], and tempe orek or tempeh stir-fried with sweet soy sauce

This combination of flavours and textures makes nasi uduk a choice meal for breakfast or brunch, as well as lunch or dinner.

Like other iconic foods, nasi uduk have a long history in Indonesia, and even the rest of Southeast Asia.

True to Jakarta’s diverse nature, each neighbourhood in the capital has its own variant of the dish, among them the Rawa Belong area from West Jakarta and the Kebon Kacang subdistrict in Central Jakarta’s Tanah Abang district.

But wherever one goes for nasi uduk, one should remember that food is not only for the body and soul; it is also a link to Jakarta’s past and is inseparable from Indonesian history.