Recipe: Tanaman’s Nasi Hijau
Spice-up your rice cooking game with Tanaman’s fluffy, fragrant, coconut-spiked nasi hijau.
Preparation time: 15 minutes, cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Pandan, cardamom, blended greens and coconut milk infuse spice, aroma and potent plant energy into this humble rice dish. “Nasi Hijau is originally from Java, but this version comes from my Balinese friend Oka,” says Tanaman chef Indra Saputra. “For me, it is simply the best flavoured steamed rice that I’ve ever had.”
Nasi hijau pairs wonderfully with curries, stews or anything with a good hit of umami.
For the best results, use white jasmine rice. And if you can’t find pandan leaves, substitute them with extra kailan for colour and the seeds of three vanilla pods for flavour.
Here’s the recipe:
30 ml soybean oil
1 cup jasmine rice, washed three times, drained
3 Indonesian bay leaves or regular bay leaves
2 lime leaves
3 sticks of lemongrass, pounded
4 cardamom pods
125 ml green water (instructions below)
170 ml light coconut milk
130 ml filtered water
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
½ tsp sugar
For green water
4 pandan leaves, roughly chopped
3 cups roughly chopped kailan, spinach or kale leaves
350 ml filtered water
4 tbsp crisped shallots or onions (store-bought is fine)
4 tbsp puffed rice, store-bought (optional)
Start by making the green water. Blend pandan leaves, kailan and water then strain through a cheesecloth. It should be a fresh, dark green – the lighter the water the more subtly it will colour the rice. Transfer strained water into a food container, cover and set aside.
Heat oil in a stock pot at medium-low heat. Sauté lemongrass, cardamom, bay leaves and lime leaves for two minutes or until fragrant. Add light coconut milk and filtered water and bring it to boil while stirring continuously to avoid the coconut milk from splitting. Season with salt and sugar.
Once the liquid is boiling, add in the rice, and continue to boil for 10- 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork. At this stage, all the liquid should be absorbed by the rice. While this is happening prepare your steamer by placing over a pot of boiling water.
Once the rice is half cooked, add the green water and stir well. Continue to cook for approximately three minutes or until the juice has been absorbed by the rice. Transfer the rice into a hot steamer and steam for 40-45 minutes, or until the rice is fluffy.
Keep the green rice in a rice-cooker on a warm mode for up to 6 hours. Serve warm and top with crisped onions and shallots.
Chef Indra’s tips
– Burnt aromatics make for bitter rice. Be careful not to overheat the oil when you sauté your lemongrass, cardamon, bay and lime leaves. Keep the flame on medium and cook them gently for a slow flavour release.
– Use a fork to stir your rice – it’ll help keep the grains separated.
– Can’t find coconut milk? Mix 70 ml coconut cream with 100 ml filtered water instead.
– Your green rice will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
– Fluffy rice is the aim of the game, here. “We want the grain to be tender enough to hold it’s individual character,” Indra says. Feel free to adjust the water and coconut milk as needed. If you do not add enough liquid, the rice will be underdone and hard in the center. Too much water, on the other hand, will make the rice mushy and overcooked, like porridge. Play around until you find your sweet spot.