Here's our recipe for Indonesia’s national dish, the sweet, sometimes spicy and always satisfying, nasi goreng.

A plate of nasi goreng on a table. The dish consists primarily of rice and vegetables, topped with an egg. In this instance the dish is paired with chicken skewers.
Nasi goreng is served right across Indonesia, often accompanied by satay chicken skewers © $700 / Getty Images

What is it?

Born from the need to use up yesterday’s leftover rice, this traditional Indonesian breakfast, powered by shrimp paste and sweet soy sauce, is a tantalizing prospect for any meal of the day – and one that’s pretty simple to cook too.

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 tbs peanut or vegetable oil 
1 tsp dried shrimp paste 
2 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced 
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced 
1 tsp finely sliced red chilli or sambal oelek 
4 cups cold cooked long grain rice 
1 tbs kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) 
2 eggs 
2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
salt, to taste  
½ cucumber, sliced, to serve 
prawn crackers, to serve (optional)

A top-down view of a plate of nasi goreng on a tabletop. The dish consists of rice and vegetables, with a fried egg placed on top.
Nasi goreng was originally created as a breakfast dish, using up leftover rice from the previous day © reviano auditra putra / Getty Images

How to cook

Step 1: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok on a low heat. Add the shrimp paste and cook until brown and aromatic.
Step 2: Add the shallots and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant and golden brown.
Step 3: Add the chilli followed by the rice. Turn up heat to moderate and stir-fry until all the rice is warm and the ingredients are well mixed. Sprinkle the rice with water if necessary to keep it moist.
Step 4: Add the kecap manis and stir until evenly distributed. Season with salt to taste.
Step 5: Heat the remaining oil in another pan and fry the eggs sunny side up.
Step 6: Sprinkle the rice with sliced spring onions and serve in bowls, topped with a fried egg, with a few slices of cucumber and prawn crackers on the side.

Travellers sit on beanbags scattered on the sands of Seminyak Beach in Bali, Indonesia. The beanbags all have small wooden tables next to them and umbrellas overhead. It is evening and the sun is setting over the ocean in the distance.
Whip up some nasi goreng and pretend you're relaxing on a beach in Bali © jokoleo / Getty Images

Tasting notes

Across Indonesia, you’ll find nasi goreng being touted by cart-pushing hawkers, sizzling in warung (street food stall) woks and on the menu at the finest restaurants, as well as on every family table. Ask for ‘special’ to get a fried egg on top; ask for it ‘pedas’ and you’re playing with fire – diced fresh chilli will be thrown into the wok while it’s cooking. The variations are endless. Nasi goreng ayam comes with spicy fried chicken; nasi goreng ikan bilis, popular in Flores, Komodo-dragon territory, contains small dried anchovies. Nasi goreng gila, or ‘crazy fried rice’, rarely found outside Jakarta, might contain sausage, scrambled egg, meatballs, chicken gizzards and whatever else the chef feels like throwing in – even corned beef. That’s the beauty of nasi goreng – anything goes.

Other recipes in this series:
British bubble and squeak
Mexican tacos
US-style eggs baked in avocado

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Bowl Food.

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.

Explore related stories


Where to go in 2024: when to visit our Best in Travel winners

Oct 25, 2023 • 19 min read