Nasi Kunyit (Turmeric Glutinous Rice)

Nasi Kunyit (Turmeric Glutinous Rice)Nasi Kunyit is glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and turmeric. This celebratory dish is usually served with curries during weddings and special occasions by the Malay community in Malaysia. The color yellow signifies good fortune, wealth, and royalty.

To the Malaysian Chinese especially the Baba-Nyonyas (Peranakan), Nasi Kunyit is synonymous with a baby’s Full Moon celebration. The month old baby is formally introduced to extended family and friends during this celebration which also coincides with the end of the new mom’s confinement period. For many, this is the first time they are meeting the newborn.

Traditionally, Nasi Kunyit, red colored hard boiled eggs, and Ang Ku Kueh are served. These are often accompanied by a little chicken curry, pickled ginger, and Roast Pork Belly. I used to look forward to these celebrations as a child so that I can get a taste of this soft chewy peppercorn studded yellow rice. It was so delicious served with a little curry.

Outside of Full Moon celebrations, Nasi Kunyit was seldom cooked. I remember asking Mom why that was so. She told me that it was reserved only for special occasions. Since I was not the one doing the cooking back then, I had to take it at that. 😉

Nasi Kunyit (Turmeric Glutinous Rice)

Glutinous rice is a kind of rice grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia. It is sticky when cooked, hence its name in the sense that it is sticky. It has nothing to do with dietary gluten. In fact, there is no gluten at all in the rice and it is safe for those on a gluten free diet. This rice is often used in sweet desserts because it can be easily compressed and made into cakes. Do check out my Pulut Inti recipe which also uses this rice.

Nasi Kunyit (Turmeric Glutinous Rice)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1½ cups (300g) glutinous rice
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 pieces asam gelugor or 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20 white peppercorn
  • 2 pandan leaves, shredded and knotted
  • 1¼ cup (300ml) coconut milk
  1. Wash and drain glutinous rice. Place in a bowl or pan together with ground turmeric and asam gelugor or lime juice. Add enough water to cover the glutinous rice and allow it to soak at least 4 hours.
  2. Drain glutinous rice and place it in steaming container. Add salt, peppercorns, and pandan leaves.
  3. Pour in 1 cup (240ml) coconut milk, reserving the remaining ¼ cup (60ml) for later. Cover and steam over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove lid and fluff glutinous rice with fork. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup (60ml) coconut milk onto rice. Cover and steam for another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove and serve warm with curry.

By the way, I just realized that this is the 500th post on the blog. I guess that is a celebration of sorts, don’t you think? 😉 Anyway, I served this Nasi Kunyit with chicken curry and Beef and Chicken Satay during the long Labor Day weekend. It was all so festive and tasty!

Nasi Kunyit (Turmeric Glutinous Rice)

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎


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  1. Terry says

    Hi what is this pickled ginger like? Any recipe? I only know of archar which uses cucumber, carrot, shallots, cauliflower and cabbage soaked in yellow vinegar and sesame seeds


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