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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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)
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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 (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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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 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.