Nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice)

Nasi goreng is Indonesia’s answer to fried rice, and it’s probably the country’s most well-known dish. It’s made in as many different ways as there are regions (or even families), although there are a few key ingredients that always feature: kecap manis, belacan, shallots, and garlic.

Now, I prefer to just mix sugar with soy sauce as it serves as an adequate substitute for kecap manis, and I don’t see the point in buying more bottled pantry items that result in packaging waste. And I don’t use belacan, because being vegan, I’m shrimp-paste free 😉 Oh, and I’ve been told in Indonesia that it’s fine to have my nasi goreng without meat, chicken or fish, but “no egg = no good!” I beg to differ: using tofu in place of egg works just fine for me 🙂

I like to keep my nasi goreng quite simple, with just the basic veggie combo of carrot, cabbage and spring onion… but since I discovered adding tomato to the dish gives it a lovely burst of sweetness with every other mouthful, I’ve been hooked on including it. The addition of peas and cashew nuts is an homage to my mum, who always made nasi goreng nice and spicy, and added those lovely little extras (she also used to add chopped dried apricots, which I recommend you try when you’re feeling adventurous – an old flatmate of mine used to marvel at the “sweet surprises” in her plate of nasi goreng when I made it 😀 ).

Anyhoo, here’s how to whip up a not-quite-authentic but nevertheless yummy nasi goreng that’ll have you riffing your own version in no time… 😉

Flavour: Savoury & moreish

Serves: 2 as a substantial main meal


  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 100g firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped – skin on
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium tomato, cored and cut into large chunks
  • half cup of peas (either fresh or frozen is fine)
  • a handful of cashew nuts (as many or as few as you like – I like lots 😀 )
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped – green and white parts separated
  • 2 cups leftover rice (ideally cooked and cooled, but if you want to make it fresh, that’s fine too – just be sure to stand it for a few minutes after cooking before frying it off so it doesn’t go sticky)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • half tablespoon sugar (I prefer to use coconut sugar or rapadura)
  • sprinkle of white pepper

Optional extra veggies (add along with the cabbage and carrots):

  • broccoli, broken into small florets
  • cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • any Asian green vegetable, stems and leaves separated and chopped coarsely
  • green beans, chopped into 3cm pieces
  • chopped dried apricots (if you dare – I shit you not, this is quite the discovery!)

To serve:

  • slices or wedges of cucumber
  • wedges of lime or lemon
  • chopped coriander to garnish (optional)
  • sweet chilli sauce (optional – see here for my recipe)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat
  2. Crumble tofu into wok, and scramble it around with a spatula until it starts to turn golden
  3. Toss in your garlic, ginger, and chillies, and stir-fry with the tofu for a minute
  4. Toss in the carrot, cabbage, and white parts of the spring onion – stir-fry for 2 minutes (max!)
  5. Push the stir-fried vegetables and tofu to one side of the wok
  6. Pour the rest of your oil into the wok, and pop in the rice – stir-fry the rice in the oil until it’s tossed through
  7. Stir-fry the vegetable and tofu mixture together with the rice
  8. Add tomato, peas and cashew nuts, and stir through
  9. Dissolve the sugar in the soy sauce
  10. Add the soy sauce and white pepper – stir through, and take off the heat
  11. Stir through the green parts of the spring onion, and plate up your fried rice immediately

Serve your nasi goreng with a few wedges of cucumber and lemon or lime on the side, and a wee sprinkle of coriander on top if you like it. Sweet chilli sauce goes well with this if you want to add some spicy sauciness to your meal.

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