Nasi Liwet

Nasi liwet is a succulent rice dish cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth and spices, from Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. Common steamed rice is usually cooked in water, but nasi liwet is rice cooked in coconut milk, chicken broth, salam leaves and lemongrass, thus giving the rice a rich, aromatic and succulent taste. Nasi liwet is a traditional Javanese way of cooking rice in coconut milk.


Nasi liwet is topped with a slice of omelette, shredded chicken that had also been cooked in coconut milk and a spoonful of a thick aromatic coconut cream called kumut. Served alongside nasi liwet is Opor Ayam (a delicate chicken in a mild white coconut milk based sauce scented with galangal and lime leaves), telur pindang (eggs boiled slowly with spices), tempeh and labu siam (choko) as the vegetable.

Traditionally, the pan used for cooking was made of clay. The taste and aroma is generally better if it is cooked on a wood fire, but different regions have different ways of preparing it. Traditionally, it is served on a banana leaf or teak leaf. Frequently, people prefer teak leaves to plates, because of the natural fragrance of the leaf. Nasi liwet complements (side dishes) always consist of coconut milk.

Popularity and Variants

In Solo, nasi liwet is usually eaten for breakfast, but also a popular choice for lunch or supper. In Keprabon sub-district, Surakarta, nasi liwet is only served for supper at the nighttime. Similar rice-coconut milk dishes can be found in other parts of Indonesia, such as nasi uduk Betawi, nasi gurih Aceh, and neighbouring nasi lemak from Malaysia.

Nasi Liwet
Cuisine: Indonesian
Recipe type: Rice
Serves: 4
  • 1 kg whole chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 litre coconut milk
  • 10 salam leaves
  • 10 shallots, sliced
  • 500 g basmati rice
  • selection of krupuk (Indonesian rice crackers)
  • green papaya sambal
  1. Place chicken in a pan of water, bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Drain, then rinse chicken. Rub lime juice over chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes, to marinate. Meanwhile, bring coconut milk, 5 salam leaves and 2 teaspoon salt to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring, for 12 minutes or until thick and oil separates from milk. Remove from heat. Transfer 175 ml infused coconut milk to a bowl and reserve for serving.
  2. Heat the remaining coconut milk mixture over medium heat, add shallots and cook for 4 minutes or until fragrant. Add chicken and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from mixture. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken, discarding skin and bones. Set aside. Strain coconut milk mixture, discarding the solids, and reserve for the fragrant rice.
  3. To make fragrant rice, place rice, remaining 5 salam leaves, reserved coconut milk mixture and 250 ml water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. (If rice is not cooked, add a little water, 2 tablespoon at a time, until tender.) Fluff with a fork, then remove from heat. Makes about 4 cups. (You can also cook the rice in a rice cooker.)
  4. Serve fragrant rice with shredded chicken, green papaya sambal, krupuk and reserved coconut milk.
Salam leaves are sometimes referred to as Indonesian bay leaves, but are actually more similar in flavour to curry leaves. Salam leaves and krupuk are from Asian food shops.

Kencur and galangal are from Asian food shops. Galangal is also from greengrocers.

When obtaining canned coconut water, buy the unsweetened version. It can be purchased from supermarkets. Alternatively you can use fresh coconuts and extract the water.


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