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A Yellowish Sacred Dish

tumeric rice

About “Nasi Kunyit” (turmeric rice)

Nasi kunyit or turmeric rice, after translated to English, is glutinous rice cooked with turmeric coloring and is usually served with coconut milk chicken curry or beef curry. Nasi kunyit is a famous dish not only among the Malays but also for the Chinese and Indian as well.

Historically, the turmeric rice has long been considered a “sacred” dish that is offered for spirits at sacred sites. As a result, the turmeric rice has to be prepared with extra attention and care.

When to serve “Nasi Kunyit”

Today, the glutinous rice, usually served with chicken or beef curry, is a special dish at Malay weddings. The Chinese offer this yellow rice, together with red eggs, ginger and “Ang Koo” (Literally “Red Tortoise”, a Nyonya Cake) to family members and friends to celebrate the birth of a baby when it turns a month old.

nasi kunyit

The yellowish “nasi kunyit” or turmeric rice.

Where to buy “Nasi Kunyit”

You can get a taste of this delicious nasi kunyit dish at Malay and some Indian Muslim restaurant throughout the country.

I have seen some Chinese hawker stalls selling the glutinous rice that is served with curry but these stalls are limited and hard to find. Even the stalls selling the Malay version of nasi kunyit are also limited and hard to find.

Not all Malaysians like the sticky glutinous rice as it’s filling and some people believe it’s hard to be digested.

nasi kunyit

The Ang Koo” that is served with the turmeric rice.

All in all, the nasi kunyit is worth trying if you ever come across a stall that is selling this delicious dish. It’s usually cheap and should cost not more than RM5 per dish that includes the beef or chicken curry.

Other heritage food in Malaysia that you might be interested

  • Rendang – Rendang is a popular dish not only among the Malays but also among all races in Malaysia. This delicious delicacy is made by stewing beef in coconut milk and mixed with spices like ginger, galangal, turmeric leaf, lemon grass and chili.
  • Nasi Tumpang – Nasi Tumpang is one of several food items identified by the Malaysian National Heritage Department as being truly Malaysian.
  • Ketupat – Ketupat is usually wrapped in a triangular shape using the leaves of the fan palm (Licuala). This sort of dumpling is usually eaten with rendang which is a type of dry beef curry.
  • Nasi Kerabu – The nasi kerabu is a dish of Kelantanese origin. Its rice is uniquely blue in color, which comes from having been soaked and cooked with the extract of the purplish blue bunga telang or butterfly pea.
  • Lemang – The delicious lemang is made of glutinous rice that is cooked with coconut milk in hollowed bamboos.
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