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Food is an important part of any travel experience. Here Chef and writer PETTY PANDEAN-ELLIOTT shares one of her favourite recipes from Indonesia.

INDONESIA IS a nation with a food culture as varied as the diversity of its society.

Renowned as The Spice Islands, it is the home of aromatics such as nutmeg, mace, cloves and other ingredients that permeate its cuisine.

A new book called The Indonesian Table explores the unique tapestry of culture, history and biodiversity that makes up its rich food heritage.

Chef and writer Petty Pandean-Elliott has created a comprehensive and personal book presenting 150 accessible recipes interspersed with recollections of her culinary journeys throughout Indonesia, beginning with her childhood memories in remote Manado.

Pandean-Elliott spent several years developing and adapting recipes for home cooks using easily sourced ingredients and uncomplicated cooking methods.

Here she shares a particular favourite, one that many Australians have come to know and love.

Chef and writer Petty Pandean-Elliott



NASI GORENG is at the heart of every village (kampung) in Indonesia. My Oma never let food go to waste, so this rice dish made a popular breakfast option at home.

If we didn’t have day-old rice to hand, she would cool down freshly cooked rice to room temperature.

I believe that a good nasi goreng must be light, colourful and fluffy with separated rice grains.

The most affordable versions of this dish have a base of chillies, shallots, garlic and eggs. From this base, you can build flavour with additional protein such as chicken or prawns (shrimp). Or add a bounty of vegetables – such as grated carrots and peas – for a nutritiously well-balanced meal.

Generally, you serve a sambal alongside the dish, but I like to lace it with chillies for a fiery kick. I also serve nasi goreng with rice crackers for a boost of texture and flavour.

Origin: Throughout Indonesia

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: Four


1 teaspoon shrimp paste or 2–3 tablespoons fish sauce

6 eggs

Salt and black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2–3 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large banana shallot, thinly sliced

800 g/1 lb 12 oz (4½ cups) day-old cooked rice, room temperature

4 tablespoons Sweet Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2–4 pak choy, sliced (optional)

2 carrots, grated

100 g/3½ oz (2?3 cup) frozen peas

Rice Crackers or prawn crackers (optional)


Finely grind the shrimp paste with a pestle and mortar. Set aside.

Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add the eggs and scramble for 2–3 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same wok. Add the chillies, garlic and shallot and sauté for 4–5 minutes. Add the shrimp paste, mix well and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and scrambled eggs.

Mix in the soy sauces and sauté for another 6–8 minutes, using a fork to separate the rice grains and break up any lumps.

Add the pak choy, if using, and half of the carrots and sauté for 2 minutes. If needed, add a tablespoon of water if the mixture looks dry. Season to taste. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the peas.

Divide the fried rice between 4 serving plates and garnish with the remaining grated carrots.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the remaining 4 eggs and cook for 3–4 minutes for sunny-side up. Add an egg to each plate and finish with rice crackers. Serve immediately.


Chicken and Prawn Fried Goreng (Nasi Goreng Ayam dan Udang)

Add 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped, and 100 g/3½ oz cooked tiger prawns with the rice and eggs. Serve with Mixed Pickles and Tomato, Chilli and Basil Sambal (page 53).

The Indonesian Table by Petty Pandean-Elliott will be published on March 14, priced $49.95.

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