Nasi Goreng


The Indonesian island of Sumatra is massively volcanic and its cuisine erupts with big flavours and fragrance. Jake Tilson — artist, writer, designer, broadcaster, photographer and general bon vivant — is the man for a Sumatran recipe. The Scottish ancestors of Jake’s potter wife, Jeff, were tea planters in Sumatra in the 1920s. Jake has inherited their recipe for Nasi Goreng, which he cooks on a Sunday night using leftover chicken and rice. To make the dish truly Sumatran, you could use seafood rather than chicken: those scary packets of dried little fishes from Asian supermarkets would be perfect.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3cm/inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 large fresh chilli, seeded and sliced
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 handfuls of cooked chicken, cut into thin strips, or cooked beef, sliced (Scottish option), or a few handfuls of dried/fried small fish (Sumatran option)
  • 3 portions of cold cooked rice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts


Beat the eggs in a bowl and make a thick omelette in a wide frying pan, cooking the eggs in a little oil until firm. Slice into thin strips and set aside.

Add the peanut oil, onions, garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook gently until the onions are translucent, for about 5 minutes. Then add the turmeric, cumin and coriander, followed by the chicken (or beef, or fish). Stir well and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Break up the cooked rice with a spoon, if it needs it, and add to the pan. Keep stirring until everything is piping hot, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce.

Toast the peanuts in a small dry pan on a low heat and garnish your nasi goreng with the nuts and the omelette slices.

No leftover rice? Just add a cup of dry rice to boiling water, cook until tender and cool before using.