How to cook: Java rice

For non-Filipinos, and for Filipinos who left to settle elsewhere in the world before Java rice became the better half of all things grilled, Java rice is a yellow fried rice. As to why it is yellow, the most reasonable guess would be turmeric. More than six years after I first posted a recipe for Java rice (it’s on page two as this is an update to that recipe), I now have an answer as to why it is called Java rice.

What we know as Java rice is rooted in tumpeng — rice shaped like a cone, positioned at the center of a banana leaf covered tampah (what we Filipinos call bilao) and served surrounded by traditional Indonesian dishes and condiments. The tumpeng is a special occasion dish associated with celebrations after a bountiful harvest. If you’re familiar with Indonesian geography, among Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands, Java is the third largest. The tumpeng is significantly connected with the Javanese and the Balinese.

The tumpeng, however, is not always yellow. It may be plain steamed rice. The yellow rice is actually nasi uduk (rice cooked in coconut milk with herbs and spices) to which turmeric has been added. In short, the fried yellow rice that we call Java rice is really more Filipino than Javanese or Indonesian. The Malaysian glutinous rice with turmeric and coconut milk that I wrote about three years ago is closer to the tumpeng which is a true Javanese rice dish.

But since I am a Filipino raised with Filipino “Java” rice, I cook it as a fried rice dish.

I still cook my Java rice in pretty much the same way I did six years ago. No serious changes except that I increased the spice to rice ratio. I also ditched the ghee for palm oil and I dispensed with the bell pepper altogether. And, instead of sambal oelek from a jar, I used fresh bird’s eye chili.

Recipe: Java rice


  • 4 tbsps. of coconut (or some other palm) oil
  • 2 tbsps. of finely minced garlic
  • 2 tbsps. of finely minced ginger
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps. of finely minced lemongrass
  • 1 finely chopped bird’s eye chili
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric powder
  • 6 c. of cold cooked rice
  • salt, to taste
  • crisp onion slices and chopped scallion (onion leaves), to garnish


  1. Heat the palm oil in a wok or frying pan.
  2. Java rice
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, shallots, lemongrass, chili and turmeric. Cook over medium heat until the mixture starts to look pasty (the oil will be absorbed by the other ingredients).
  4. Java rice
  5. Add the rice to the pan.
  6. Java rice
  7. Stir and toss until the rice is heated through and every grain is coated with the spicy yellow paste. Season with salt. Stir to blend.
  8. Java rice
  9. Ladle the rice into bowls or plates and sprinkle with crisp onion slices and scallions.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6

  • Connie

    Hello Louie. You make me smile. :) I am so happy for you AND your kids.

    20 people… generally, yes, just multiply by 5. however, stir fries are no good for bulk cooking. stews, roasts, grilled food and soups, yes, times 5 and you’re ok. :)

    • ruby

      thanks a lot. my husband loved it or is it me cooking it for him:wink:

  • Coni

    where’s the recipe?i really wanna learn it.tnx

  • kulasa

    Hi Connie,

    I just made this one today. Came out great! Talagang bilib na sa iyo si Kulas. Will we ever get to see a book of your recipes published? Grabe, this is now a must for all barbeque meals will do. We had it with baby back ribs at talaga naman namaga ata ang mata ko sa daming nakain ko!

    • Connie

      chunky, here is the link to the Wikipedia article on Sambal.

      You can buy them in supermarkets.

      • sam of kuwait!

        Hi Ms. Connie!
        My boss and his family is out for a week vacation so free ako dito sa office without any to do. Your website keeps me company by enjoying good recipes, tips and huge laughter by reading the commentaries of satisfied people who have tried your recipes . At home talaga ang feeling! :)
        Thanks for this Java Rice recipe! This is a must with bbq ribs sa mga parokyano naming british & americans that always request our catering services. More power always!

        PS. Out na ba yung book mo?? sana available dito sa Kuwait :(

  • paul

    Dear madam,
    My son likes the taste of java rice in aristocrat, i wonder if you can send me some recipes closer to the taste of it.
    Thanks a lot


      bakit nga ba java rice tawag?
      galing bang indonesia ang idea ng ganitong rice?
      tuwing naalala ko lang kasi dati, pag barbekyu house, laging java rice ang order. madilaw sha shempre lagi.
      yung butter sa recipe, same one you use for the dipping sauce ng lobster.
      subukan ko nga ang rice na to. simple lang naman steps. thanks.

    • Celia

      Hi, I’d love to try making Java rice with your recipe. I remember how I used to ordeer the chicken barbecue with the Java rice back home. Pls send me the recipe. Tx,

      • Clare

        Hi, I would love to try your Java Rice as I am craving for Pinoy food here in Florida. Was wondering though what type of rice is best to use in this recipe. I would sometimes make fried rice here using Jasmine Rice but they always come out sticky. I have very limited options in the groceries here on what rice to use. Will basmati be a good choice? Also, what’s the subtitute for sambal oelek? There are some chili paste for sale here and I know sambal oelek is chili paste too or I’m wrong? Thanks.

        • Connie

          Actually, I’m not very particular about the variety of rice. Just use less water than usual when cooking the rice, then cool (chilling overnight, covered, is better) before mashing to separate the grains.

          Re sambal oelek: I don’t think there is anything similar but chili garlic paste seems like a good substitute.

  • allan

    “java rice” is another pinoy food that doesn’t really exist where we pinoys think it came from. think, “pansit Canton” and “lumpiang Shanghai.”

    well, okay indonesia has something similar but they don’t call it “java rice,” but rather “nasi kuning,” or literally “yellow rice.”

    nasi kuning is rice boiled with coconut milk to make it rich and a bit oily. the yellow color is derived from turmeric. it isn’t supposed to taste sweet or even garlicky but just plain coconut-y rice. i’m not quite sure if some add lemongrass though.

  • yasmin

    can u give me the recipe of java rice?

    My son loves to eat java rice…tnx.

  • lala

    hi, can u pls. share to me the recipe of java rice , my sis. and i planning for small business in our province, we want yung patok na value meal sa mga students, cuz wer’e juz near sa isang univ. school. we want something new, both us love eating java rice hope u can help us. tanx…

  • Carolina nadela

    Its my favorite kc ung java rice, kc ung hndi p kmi mgasawa un na knkain nmin,s0 i wnt to try to make java rice

  • Connie


    • aze

      thnx for the recipe!!! this make my wife happy :D

  • Joel Datu

    Java rice is not from the Philippines, it`s from the island of JAVA which is part of Indonesia…but, the best JAVA rice I had was in this small restaurant in ONGPIN, Binondo, Manila…it was so awesomely delicious, best with JAVA Chicken too…yummyyyyyyy!

    • Connie

      Java is part of Indonesia, yes, but you won’t find “Java rice” in Indonesian cuisine.

  • Ingenue19

    Hi Ms. Connie, i wanna try this recipe but Im not familiar with shallots?! any common term for that? =)

    • Connie

      Sibuyas Tagalog.

  • dyanN

    Hi, where can I get turmeric? What brand?

    I want to try your recipe, ‘coz I made Java Rice the other night using tomato ketchup, i got that recipe online, it doesn’t taste good :-(

    • Connie

      You can buy raw turmeric or powdered (McCormick).

      • dyanN

        which one do you use? what’s better? :-)

        • Connie

          Whichever I have at the moment. :) Both work.

          • Socorro

            I tried this tonight, and it was really good. Thank you for the recipe :)

          • rico ramirez

            i love it

          • elaine

            hi connie, will the sambal make this dish spicy? would you recommend to omit it?

          • Connie

            Sambal is made of chilies so it is spicy.

          • isabel

            Hi Ms. Connie,
            I’ve been following your site for weeks now and it truly completes my day just reading on the recipes and getting inspiration for next day’s menu. Just want to let you know i’ve tried your Java Rice recipe and tagged (if i’m using the right term, sensya na po, techie-impaired)you in my post (newbie blogger din) of my version of the recipe.
            I’m really glad i found your site, now i know the best way to survive a boring day at the office :)

          • Connie

            There’s nothing like the thought of a good meal awaiting to be cooked at home when it gets boring at work, right? :)

          • Lerker

            Nako! I thought Java rice was rice na niluto sa kawali after mo tanggalin yung adobo. I thought it was rice cooked in the leftover sauce of adobo/humba! Ano pala ang tamang term dun Tita Connie? Sa rice na yun. Yung brown na masarap na linuto sa tira-tira after ka magluto ng adobo. Yung nakaka-heart attack.

          • Connie Veneracion

            Sinangag lang yun na masarap hehehehe

          • Angela Ubaldo

            Is turmeric the same as ” Dilaw ” ?

            I enjoy reading all your posts – whether they are about your recipes or your daily adventures. It reminds me of times spent with my friends and family back in Manila ( listening to their conversations ). Thanks for sharing your stories and recipes.

          • Connie Veneracion

            Yes, it is. :)

          • Joyce

            precisley! sinangag na masarap! but my daughter calls it adobo rice (if there’s such a thing!)
            i would call it “atake” rice especially if the sauce was from the humba! LOL!

          • Connie Veneracion

            Yes, there is adobo rice — look! I bet your daughter will like that. :)

          • Tin Vercruysse

            Thank you for sharing this recipe. My husband and I enjoyed it. It was lovely! :)

          • Connie Veneracion

            So glad you liked it. :)

        • Pepy | Indonesia Eats

          Nice to know about the relation of Java rice with Indonesian yellow rice. Just for a bit info to clarify (hope you don’t mind), The yellow rice is actually nasi kuning not nasi uduk. Nasi kuning (nasi=rice, kuning = yellow). Nasi uduk is known for other nasi in other regions beside Jakarta such as nasi gurih (savoury rice).

          Java rice reminds me more to what Indonesians know as nasi goreng kunyit or nasi goreng kuning. Goreng= Fried; Kunyit = Turmeric.

          • Kershia

            Hi, tried some of your recipes and it was awesome! :)

            I am dying to cook this Java rice recipe that you have and I wanna know if there is any substitute for lemongrass.?? If none, is it ok to cook java rice without it? :/

          • Connie

            Why would you want a substitute for lemongrass? It is available in any market — it even comes in jars.

            If the lemongrass issue is because you don’t like lemongrass, well, if you omit it, I can’t guarantee that the result will be as good. :)

          • Kershia

            Oh ok. Well, I think I really have to go back to the market to get one. Hihi.

            I’ve tried your Arroz Amarillo and some of your microwave mug cakes and it was awesome. My 1 year old boy loved it! :)

            Thanks to you! :)

  • Asian Food (@Asian_Foods)

    #homecookingrocks Java rice: For non-Filipinos, and for Filipinos who left to settle elsewhere in the world befo…

  • sha

    cant even remember cooking this.
    sambal at tanggang

    good excuse to go to manila town (its a name my bro in law calls the area here where most Pinoy live)

  • Connie

    ach13, there is no more cream in ghee; it’s just the oil.

  • Denise

    Cooked a batch yesterday and it was great! But oh my God, the dried lemon grass could cut a person’s throat — even after soaking it for an hour in water. The flavor was there, though. Will use fresh ones next time. Oh yeah, I was initially intimidated by the recipe because of the ghee. No problems with it, though. It was super simple to make!

    Thanks Connie for going through the pains of figuring out the mystery behind java rice!

  • Connie

    naku, the many trials and errors before i got the right taste. :-P

  • ach13

    Can you provide a non-dairy java rice/sauce recipe? I am lactose-intolerant and I don’t taste any butter flavor in the java rice and sauce that I like (The Aristocrat’s- the best!)


  • angelo

    java rice + sate babe is heaven.

  • Joy

    thank you so much! will definitely try this at home.

  • Connie

    angelo, hope you found my recipe for the sate babi sauce?

    You are welcome, Joy. My kids really loved this one. :)

  • Denise

    Hi Connie! You think I can use dried lemon grass for this recipe? I can’t seem to find fresh ones here in Germany.

    May I just add that your website is really therapy for me? Haha it honestly releaves stress.

    Thanks so much!

  • Connie

    Denise, am not familiar with the dried variety although I’m sure that the flavor and aroma will be there. You may have to rehydrate the dried lemon grass, perhaps?

    Stress buster… hehehe that is so good to know. :)

  • Connie

    Denise, just like all dried herbs, the potency is twice as much. SO you’ll have to use twice as less or maybe even less than that. :)

  • Louie

    Hi! I was a disaster – no, a calamity! – in the kitchen, until the first time I visited your blog. Now my family is awed by my cooking skills (har har), and my kids are getting interested in cooking too (and that’s the best part for me – nothing like quality time with my family!). Thank you!

    Your Java Rice recipe (as with your other recipes) is yummy! My kids, who grew up with fastfoods, would judge homecooked foods based on that “fastfood standards.” But now they are shifting their tastes to more wholesome dishes. Another round of thanks for that!

    May I ask something? I cook for 4 people, but I’ll be going to a pot-luck lunch next month. I was wondering how I could cook for 20 persons: Do I just multiple all the ingredients by 5? Is there a rule of thumb for this? Thanks again, and more power to you!

  • dj

    i love

  • Connie

    Click the link to page 2, Coni.

  • Connie

    LOL Kulasa, pati ako nainggit ah! tagal na naming di nag-iihaw sa uling. :)

  • Paton

    thanks for sharing your java rice receipe! i stumbled upon your receipe after searching the net. i only searched for it since my girlfriend asked me how to make java rice…wish us luck!

  • Connie

    Go, Paton! You can do it!:grin:

  • lani

    i would like to receive recipes.i am a mother of 2 boys.i am just starting to like cooking.pls send me easy to make food for my family.thank you.

  • maria

    hi, i’m glad i saw your recipe for java rice. will share with family.

  • angel poons

    its good that there are websites like this one..i wil definitely try this one..

  • emma

    Whew I almost hyperventilated. I was surfing around for the ingredients of java rice just because I had it for lunch and I was wondering whether or not it is vegan. Good thing the recipe from the site you mentioned is nothing like the one in our fastfood joints.

    Thanks for the info and your site is fun. Here’s to good eats!

  • chunky

    pardon my ignorance, but what is sambal oelek? i can’t even spell it without checking the recipe above…hahaha! and where can i get them here in manila…thanks!

  • Bobby Tejada

    just wanna know why it is called java rice? and also salpicao and ala pobre….bakit nga ba sila tinawag na ganun…thnxs

  • sats

    can i have the recipe of the jave rice..

    my kids love it. thanks