Surinamese Nasi (Basic Recipe)

Surinamese Nasi is a fried rice dish which is a staple in Suriname. Nasi Goreng is originally an Indonesian dish. Nasi means “Rice” and Goreng means “Fried” in Indonesian.

When the Dutch occupied Suriname a lot of people from the island of Java in Indonesia emigrated to Suriname. With their arrival, they brought with them their delicious Nasi Goreng. Overtime the flavors of the Nasi in Suriname were influenced by other cultures living in Suriname which changed the amount and kind of herbs and spices used for the fried rice dish. The Surinamese Nasi is often served with Surinamese meat dishes such as Moksie Metie (mix of roasted meat), roasted chicken, accompanied with side dishes such as pickled cucumber and bakabana (fried plantain).

When making Surinamese Nasi, I, personally, never use a recipe. I just use whatever I have leftover at home and create a nice fried rice dish out of it. However, since I get asked a lot by friends how I make Nasi I decided to take my time to measure everything and try to use a limited amount of spices to create a basic Surinamese Nasi which you can make and adapt to your liking. Once you know how to make Nasi you can play around with things to make your own version.

How To Make Surinamese Nasi

With all fried rice, the rice bit is usually the trickiest part. The best rice to use for Nasi in my opinion is day old rice that has been refrigerated overnight. However, when I know I’ll be making Surinamese Nasi I also like to flavor my rice beforehand like my mom always does. In which case I add a bouillon/stock cube, a clove of garlic and a bit of kecap to my rice before cooking it and I end up with a fragrant, lightly colored rice, ready to use for my nasi. You can refrigerate this overnight as well but at the very least make sure you cool the rice fully before using it for the Surinamese Nasi.

Collage of two photos. On the left dry rice with garlic, crushed bouillon/stock cube, kecap on top. On the right cooked rice with all the flavoring with a light brown color.

For the chicken I prefer to use chicken thigh fillet, I find there’s more flavor in them and they’re more tender then chicken breast. However, you can use any chicken to your liking.

In the recipe below I also mention that the chicken can be cleaned to your liking. The reason I’m writing that is because in most Surinamese households we wash and clean our chicken with lemon or vinegar before using it. This tradition is a topic of discussion many times for those that aren’t accustomed to this. I personally always prep my chicken like I was taught by my mom and grandma. But everyone can use and clean (or not) their chicken any which way they prefer.

To give the chicken fillet extra flavor I always cook the chicken with some garlic, ginger, kecap, bouillon/stock cube, butter, flat leaf parsley topped with a bit of water, just enough to cover the chicken. Once cooked I pull apart the chicken with two forks to get nice thin strips.

Two photo collage. On the left a pan with chicken fillet, kecap, garlic, ginger, butter, flat leaf parsley and water. On the right cooked pulled chicken.

When frying the nasi I start out with onion and “Trassi” which is Indonesian for shrimp paste. The shrimp paste gives an extra depth of flavor to the dish. Shrimp paste has a strong odor while cooking, but it’s worth the smell. Once the shrimp paste has incorporated in the dish the odor won’t be as strong anymore. If you don’t have shrimp paste you can leave it out and just use a bit more kecap or add a tablespoon of fish sauce. When cooking I suggest you always taste as you go along and add more kecap, salt, pepper when needed.

Collage of 4 photos. 1. Onion and shrimp paste being fried in a wok. 2. Pulled chicken added to wok. 3. Rice added to wok. 4. Finished Surinamese Nasi in wok.

What to serve with Surinamese Nasi

Surinamese Nasi is often served with some meat, such as Moksi Meti (mix of roasted meat), roasted chicken accompanied with strips of fried egg omelet as garnish and pickled cucumber and fried plantain as a side dish. These are just a few suggestions, there is obviously more you can serve with it.

Surinamese Nasi with cucumber and egg on a white plate

Surinamese Nasi (Basic Recipe)

Surinamese Nasi is a fried rice dish from Suriname which was brought over by Indonesians. The fragrant rice dish is a popular dish in Suriname.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Surinamese
Keyword: surinamese food, surinamese fried rice, surinamese recipe
Servings: 4
Calories: 928kcal

Ingredients

Rice (option 1: when using leftover or precooked rice)

  • Precooked or leftover rice based on 3 cups of uncooked rice

Rice (option 2: when using uncooked rice)

  • 3 cups uncooked rice 500 gram
  • 1 bouillon/stock cube
  • 1 tablespoon kecap manis sweet soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic

Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken fillet 500 gram (cleaned to personal preference)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 piece ginger (about the size of a thumb)
  • 1 tablespoon kecap manis sweet soy sauce
  • 1 bouillon/stock cube
  • 1 twig flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter 20 gram
  • 1 cup water 200 ml (more or less as needed)

Frying Nasi

  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (trassi)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger – finely chopped
  • Prepared chicked from the ingredients above
  • Prepared rice from the ingredients above
  • 1/2 teaspoon kencur powder optional
  • 1 piece lemon grass or 1 teaspoon lemon grass powder
  • 1 teaspoon galangal (laos) – finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons kecap manis sweet soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce salty soy sauce
  • 1 handful flat leaf parsley – finely chopped

Side dishes (optional)

  • 5 eggs fried omelet to taste, cut in strips
  • fried plantains
  • pickled cucumber

Instructions

Rice (option 1: precooked rice)

  • Take your leftover or day old prepared rice out of the fridge.

Rice (option 2: uncooked rice)

  • Prepare the rice as instructed on the packet but include the boillion/stock cube, kecap, garlic and ginger. When the rice is done, remove the garlic.
    You can use the rice straight away to prepare the nasi or refrigerate it overnight so the rice dries out a bit and it's easier to handle.

Chicken

  • Add all the ingredients (except water) to a pan with a thick bottom.
  • Add the water till the chicken is just covered, add more or less of of the water as needed depending on your pan.
  • Bring the water to a boil and cook the chicken on a medium heat till its done.
  • Take the chicken out of the pan and leave the chicken to cool. Once cooled pull apart the chicken with two forks to get finely thin strips of chicken fillet.
  • Boil down the leftover broth of the chicken till it starts to thicken, add the pulled chicken strips and mix till all the moisture is absorbed.

Frying Nasi

  • Add oil to a skillet or hot pan and heat it up.
  • Add onion and fry till it starts to get translucent. Add the shrimp paste and press it to break down and stir with the onions.
  • Add garlic and finely chopped ginger and stir to fry.
  • Add bruised lemon grass and stir fry
  • Add chicken and stir fry
  • Add galangal and kencur and stir fry
  • Add rice and stir fry
  • Add kecap and soy sauce.
  • Stir fry till all is thoroughly combined and has a nice light brown color.
  • Remove the big pieces of lemon grass.
  • Finish with salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle with finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Serve with a side dish of your choice (fried egg omelet, fried plantains, pickled cucumbers, roasted chicken etc)

Notes

Leftover Rice
  • The best rice to use for Nasi is day old rice that has been refrigerated overnight. 
  • TIP: If you have leftover rice from another dish, put it in a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer. When you want to make Nasi simply take the rice out of the freeze and let it thaw before using it.
Kecap Manis, Kencur & Shrimp Paste
  • Kecap Manis (or Ketjap Manis) is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. It has a syrupy consistency and a molasses-like flavor. It is a vastly used sauce in Indonesian cuisine.
  • Kencur/Kenchur or Kaempferia galanga is similar to ginger and galangal. It is slightly smaller, but richer in flavor. If you can’t find kencur powder you can leave it out, you won’t have to substitute it with anything.
  • Shrimp paste adds an extra dimension and depth of flavor to the dish. However, if you can’t find any shrimp paste you can leave it out. Just adjust your seasoning or use a tablespoon of fish sauce to give some more depth to the dish.
Extra Herbs & Spices
  • This recipe is a very basic recipe using a minimum of herbs and spices. However, most Surinamese households will add extra herbs and spices to create their own signature Nasi. Some of the spices I use as well are Ketoembar (ground coriander seeds), Laos (Galangal root). Feel free to add more herbs and spices to your taste.
Storage
  • You can keep Nasi in the fridge for about 2 days, just warm it up in the microwave. If the rice seems a bit dry just sprinkle a bit of water on it before putting it in the microwave. 
  • Nasi freezes really well. It’ll keep for about 3 months in the freezer
Serving
  • Serve with roasted chicken or Moksi Meti (mix of roasted meat), bakabana (fried plantain) and pickled cucumber
  • This recipe servers 4-6 people depending how large the portions are served.
Please Note:
  • Please note that the cup measurements in this recipe are approximate. Cup measurements have been added for those that prefer using cups. The recipe is most accurate using weights measurements.
  • The Nutrition facts in this recipe are based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in the recipe and are based on statistical averages. The exact nutritional values may vary depending on the ingredients used etc. Nutritional facts exclude side dishes.

Nutrition

Calories: 928kcal | Carbohydrates: 134g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 1737mg | Potassium: 470mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 325IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @rootz.recipes or tag #rootzrecipes!
Surinamese Nasi, fried rice close-up

6 comments

  1. Maslynn
    17 January 2021

    If you are going to serve your Nasi Goreng with the (often used, in tradition) fried egg on top, fry them quickly now, to desired doneness. (Me? I like it soft fried, so the yolk drizzles down into the rice – yummy!)

  2. Jeremy
    14 February 2021

    3 stars
    Seems changed too much from the original Dutch Indonesian recipe that had coriander seeds and ground coriander in it as well as a degree of pork and lots of prawns – plenty of chilli (there seems none on this list) Also I personally don’t like Lemon Grass or Galingale as these are Thai spices. Lastly I never warm up rice from previous day because this risks doubling up a bacteria that doesn’t sit well on the digestion and can actually cause food poisoning. Rice is fine to keep hot for hours until serving as done by restaurants. My nasi goreng recipe has strips of omelette on top which is often preferred to having a fried egg on it and it looks better too.

    1. 19 February 2021

      This recipe is a really basic recipe which means I tried to use a minimum of herbs and spices. The recipe can be a base from which you can add and adjust to your own liking. Most Surinamese people will add more herbs and spices. I personally always use some ground coriander as well as other spices. That’s the nice thing about Nasi, there isn’t really one true recipe because the recipe itself is a product of using leftovers. Back in the day, people would use whatever they had leftover to create their Nasi. That’s why I opted to share a ‘Basic’ recipe for Nasi because everyone will have their own signature way of making it for their family. 🙂

    2. Daphne
      7 July 2022

      First of all you are absolutely mistaking surinamese/indonesian nasi for nasi goreng. There is a major difference between the nasi created by javanese people in surinam (who eventually also started migrating to the netherlands) and the indonesian/dutch nasi originating from southeast asia you are referring to. Also you can absolutely heat up leftover rice without food poisoning when stored properly (this takes two seconds to google) and is preferred in a lot of recipes when making fried rice as hot rice tends to mush. And yes of course most people add different things but had you read the description you couldve seen that they were saying that themselves and that this recipe is a starting point

  3. Daphne
    7 July 2022

    thank you so much for this recipe! growing up surinamese/Indonesian in a western country can be really hard especially when looking for authentic recipes, most of them will have been simplified leaving out things like trassi, laos etc. and it just never tastes the same as when my family used to make it but this one did! 🙂

    1. 9 July 2022

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you liked it 🙂

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