Nasi Uduk – Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice

Nasi Uduk - Indonesian Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice

My attempt at the Indonesian spice cake called spekkoek was a complete disaster, so weaseling my way into the this month’s edition of WTSIM means that I have to go with Plan B.

There is no Plan B, so let’s see what’s in the fridge:

  • Sriracha – Not much use in Indonesian cookery as far as I know.
  • Sourdough starters – Can’t remember the last time I fed these. Must feed self first.
  • Curdled white goo – A closer look reveals that it’s just yogurt.
  • Tempeh – Quintessentially Indonesian, but I don’t feel like frying anything at the moment.
  • Lemongrass – We may be on to something here…

Since being Filipino means that I hoard coconut milk cans like squirrels do acorns, I humbly serve a side dish of fragrant nasi uduk, rice steamed with lemongrass and coconut milk. This barebones version suggests an optional parboiling step before steaming, if you ever feel like trying it with brown rice.

Waiter There's Something In My
Waiter There’s Something In My… Indonesian
hosted by Andrew of Spittoon Extra

recipe adapted from James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor

Nasi Uduk
Indonesian Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice

makes 4 to 6 servings

Lemongrass and Coconut Milk for Indonesian Nasi Uduk
Lemongrass and Coconut Milk

2 cups white or brown rice (14 ounces/400 grams), thoroughly rinsed
3 lemongrass stalks
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste


  • If using brown rice, parboil for about 10 to 15 minutes in a large pot of boiling water, as if cooking pasta, before continuing with the recipe. The brown rice grains should be slightly softened but still uncooked in the center.


Chop off and discard the bottom inch and bristly tops of the lemongrass. Remove the outer 2-3 layers of the lemongrass stalk. Using a heavy blunt object, bruise the lemongrass stalks lightly, just until flexible enough to tie into knots.

Lemongrass Knots Indonesian Nasi Uduk

In a lidded saucepan, stir together the rice, lemongrass knots, water, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat while continuously stirring to prevent the bottom from scorching. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, ensuring that the lemongrass knots are completely immersed in the rice and liquid.

Cover tightly with the lid and cook for 15 minutes over low heat. Remove from the heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes by keeping the saucepan covered. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary.

Remove and discard the lemongrass knots. Fluff the rice with a fork or spoon and let cool slightly before serving.

Nasi Uduk - Indonesian Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice Bowl
The richness of nasi uduk pairs well with the acidity of vinegared Filipino adobos, be it pork, chicken, or beef.

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35 Responses to “Nasi Uduk – Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice”

  1. Rosa says:

    Delicious! I love such frangrant and delicate tasting rices!



  2. cheryl says:

    gosh, I love lemongrass. and I loved your description of coconut milk hoarding.

    last blog post: Menu Plan Monday Sept 29th

  3. Adam says:

    Lemongrass has such a wonderful smell. Between that and the coconut, I’m sure your kitchen was one happy place :)

    last blog post: Kapusta for World Food Day

  4. kat says:

    I can imagine that would be a lovely flavored & scented rice

    last blog post: Recipes to Rival – Dumpling Challenge

  5. Ben says:

    Now that is a very interesting way to serve rice. I don’t think I’ve ever had Indonesian food before. This could be a tasty first dish for me.

    last blog post: Silence

  6. Fearless Kitchen says:

    This looks delicious and fragrant. I like your descriptive instructions on how much to bruise the lemongrass :)

    last blog post: Tarte Dijonaise

  7. snookydoodle says:

    this looks a nice and interesting recipe :)

    last blog post: Flower power

  8. Nate says:

    That sounds great. I’m sure it smelled fantastic while it was cooking! Can’t wait to try it with my adobo.

    last blog post: Big List of "Things You Must Eat" Lists

  9. Marvin says:

    Ah, you’re using the lemongrass like pandan. Do you think this recipe would work in a rice cooker?

    last blog post: Pandora

  10. van says:

    Very beautiful dish! Yummy!

    last blog post: Vietnamese noodle "Phở" seasoning

  11. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    The lemongrass in my herb garden is ready to be harvested, so I’m delighted to find a new (to me) recipe that uses it!

    last blog post: Shagbark hickory nuts (Recipe: maple nut cookies)

  12. Y says:

    That rice looks great! What happened to your cake though? Did you use the recipe from Cradle of Flavour? I have that book and have been meaning to make the cake. Should I avoid it?

    last blog post: She exhales. Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake.

  13. Hannah says:

    I love lemongrass, but I can only find it dried… Otherwise I would certainly use it more often!

    last blog post: Behind the Scenes

  14. Rosa, Adam, Kat – Smells so good while steaming.

    Cheryl – That reminds me.. I only have a few gallons left.

    Ben – The rice had just enough to not completely fade into the background

    Jessica – Good thing I have alot of blunt objects around.

    Snooky – Fairly simple, too, and easy to throw together in a pinch.

    Nate – Nasi uduk + adobo = best dinner in a while.

    Marvin – It should work, although I’m not sure if the coconut milk will scorch or not.

    Van – It went pretty fast.

    Lydia – Wow, freshly plucked lemongrass must be so aromatic!

    Y – It’s not the recipe, it’s me :( . I’m just going to say that a makeshift bundt pan is a bad idea.

    Hannah – I wonder how to substitute dried for fresh lemongrass (if you can)

  15. Dee says:

    Looks and sounds great, Jude. I must be Filipina too :)

    last blog post: Trading loyalties

  16. Life Chef says:

    I’m sure this is fantastic. I’ve made something very similar recently to go w/ a curry dish: Cardamom-Scented Wild Rice with Coconut Milk. Really the only difference was I used cardamom pods instead of lemongrass and had to pick them out to eat the rice. Looked fantastic though, and tasted great. Another variation on the dish was to saute wild rice in ghee, then cook it in coconut milk, season w/ s/p and a touch of cayenne, and when the rice was finished, I tossed in toasted pumpkin seeds. Hey, I need to put those on my blog at!

  17. valentina says:

    Being Brasilian I nurture a life long passion for rice and this dish has brought me to my knees. I believe that it is quite fragrant. Must take note and reproduce.

  18. Jeanne says:

    This looks gorgeous – I *love* the lemongrall knots!

  19. Jeanne says:

    Umm….. that would be lemongraSS!! D’oh!

    last blog post: Ratatouille bake with feta cheese

  20. Cynthia says:

    You know I am definitely going to try this :)

    last blog post: Comfort in a bowl of Rice & Notice

  21. Gay says:

    This sounds great and something I could try at home. I love to cook with lemongrass and coconut milk.

    last blog post: Shrimps and Coke

  22. Andie Summerkiss says:

    Spekoek is the most difficult cake to bake and very laborious. That’s why they are so extremely expensive in shops. So don’t feel bad. Keep on trying.

    I love nasi uduk. We have that at least twice a week on breakfast. If you add pandan leaves and tie it into a knot like the lemongrass, it will give the rice a hint of sweetness. A real kick. That’s what they do at home.

    last blog post: Hokkien-style Braised Pork with Soy and Vinegar

  23. Andrew says:

    Simple it may be but looks great and I bet it tastes just as good!

    Many thanks for the entry to waiter.

  24. Jaime says:

    how interesting! i love lemongrass and using it to infuse rice sounds like a wonderful idea!

  25. Susan Trued says:

    OMG!!! This recipe will stay in my heart and house forever!!! Cant wait for my Dad to try this recipe… Everyone loves it!!! Tried it with and without the lemongrass… still rocks!!!!

  26. dipika says:

    I come from India and live in Indonesia. Tasted Nasi Uduk in a Malaysian resturant. I am in love wt this dish. Its so simple yet so tasty. They garnish it with crispy fried onion which also gives a nice flavor!

  27. Crystal Potpourri says:

    I tried the reciepe at home, taste yummy

  28. Anonymous (Ft) says:

    Just to let you know, this recipe is incomplete..

  29. Nate says:

    This is a great change up for rice. Very refreshing.

    See also:

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