I dare you to find a better rice than nasi carrot. For those unfamiliar with it, nasi carrot is the best answer to the question, “how to spice up white rice.” White rice is cooked in butter, flavored with an aromatic blend of curry leaves, onions, garlic, and ginger, infused with turmeric, and that’s not even the best part. Instead of regular water, the rice is cooked in a mixture of water plus evaporated milk and chicken stock. Oh and of course, the carrots!
Doesn’t that sound like a party? You could click the “jump to recipe” button but if you stick around, you’ll learn how to make nasi carrot and some cool things like:
Any good story starts with understanding what on earth is going on, so to contextualize this beloved family favorite, let’s start at the beginning at what is nasi carrot.
What Is Nasi Carrot?
Nasi carrot is life. It is one of the many derivative versions of Malaysian rice dishes known as nasi minyak. Quick language lesson: literally translated from Bahasa Melayu, nasi minyak means oil rice. “Nasi” means rice and “minyak” oil.
Nasi minyak is so named because one of the main ingredients is clarified butter or ghee. This kind of rice dish is typically cooked in herbs and spices, ghee, evaporated milk, and pandan leaves for fragrance. Sometimes, yellow rice is used in place of white rice.
Nasi carrot follows the same principle, it starts out with a blend of onions (optional for people who follow a low FODMAP diet), garlic, and ginger cooked in butter or ghee. Curry leaves, turmeric, and cumin are added to the mix and topped with rice. The spiced rice is then cooked in evaporated milk, water, and a chicken stock cube for more flavor.
But it wouldn’t be rice and carrots without the carrots! Nasi carrot or carrot rice includes grated carrots to add sweetness and personally, I think it’s a great way to sneak in vegetables..
Because this fancy rice is served at special occasions, the very aroma of this dish invokes fond memories of hari raya (eid ul fitr or suikerfeest in the Netherlands). Though carrots and butter are the stars of the show, an equally important ingredient is curry leaves. Keep on reading to find out more about this irreplaceable ingredient.
An Important Ingredient: Curry Leaves
The curry tree is a tropical tree native to Asia. Curry trees and curry leaves are easy to find if you live in Asia. They’re used in curries (of course), fried snacks like vade, tempered in oil with onion, garlic, and mustard seeds, and in this case, to add a fragrant and savory note to this nasi carrot dish.
When I moved to the Netherlands, it was truly remarkable how difficult it was to find curry leaves. And then I found out that the European Union had actually banned imports of Sri Lankan curry leaves because of something called ‘citrus greening’ bacteria. This ban was implemented to protect the native biodiversity of Europe.
And I get it, I do. Invasive species are a problem, curry trees sprout up easily like weeds but I needed them. Growing up, we always had a banana tree, pandan bush, and curry tree in our garden. So, I did the only logical thing any desperate Asian living abroad would do: I packed a separate suitcase with ingredients that I could not find in the Netherlands.
I’d chop off branches of curry leaves from my mother’s’ curry tree and quietly bring them to the Netherlands. Luckily, after a few years of doing this, I found a company that grew this magical ingredient in Holland. I then proceeded to buy a lifetime supply of curry leaves and froze them.
Now, why am I yammering on and on about taking curry leaf branches on a transatlantic flight? Because dear reader, this is an ingredient that is irreplaceable and therefore unsubstitutable. On that grim note, let’s move on to more positives, like what to serve with this fancy rice recipe!
What To Serve With Nasi Carrot?
You know exactly when you’re going to whip out this carrot rice recipe but you’re not sure what dish to make alongside this wonderful dish. Something that will compliment all the flavors in carrot rice but also a side that makes this nasi carrot shine even more.
Today’s your lucky day because I have the solution to your problem. The best recipe for rice deserves the best sides and no other dish -in my opinion- compliments nasi carrot more than ayam golek! Ayam golek is a Malaysian roast chicken dish seasoned with cumin and slathered in a rich savory coconut reduction. The cumin and lemongrass-infused coconut chicken subtly highlight the cumin in the nasi carrot and lends an added richness to this meal.
The other mandatory side you need to make with nasi carrot is acar buah. It is a fresh, cold and crisp, lightly pickled Malaysian salad made with cucumbers, pineapples, and red onions splashed with a dash of vinegar, lime juice, and sugar. It’s sweet, tangy, refreshing, and can be made in minutes!
These three dishes together are the ultimate combination and I urge you to experience it for yourself. It will be as if you’re being transported to my childhood home in Malaysia during the holiday festivities. And let me tell you, these dishes were the hallmark of our open houses and people waited in anticipation for this meal each year.
I can keep convincing you to make this rice dish and sides but how are you supposed to make it if I haven’t actually shown you how to make it? All this jibber-jabber is over because the next section will show you how to make nasi carrot.
How To Make This Malaysian Spiced Rice Dish
This seasoned rice recipe or Malay Indian spiced rice dish starts with 4 components:
- Grated carrot
- The fresh aromatic paste
- Herbs and spices
- Liquid combination
We’re going to dive into the good stuff now and work through these components below, starting with the grated carrots.
Carrots are an important aspect for this dish to add color, sweetness, and texture. First, wash, dry and peel your carrots. After that, grate the carrots finely. Set the grated carrots aside and work on part two: the fresh aromatic spice paste.
The Fresh Aromatic Paste
The holy trinity of any Malaysian paste begins with onions, garlic, and ginger. Prepare all your ingredients as usual and place them in a blender. Mix everything to the desired consistency. It does not matter if it’s chunky or smooth.
In a large pot, heat up oil and butter. Add the spice paste and cook for 5 minutes. This will remove the rawness from the aromatics and allow their flavor to develop. Now we can move on to the spices for rice recipes in the next section: herbs and spices.
Herbs and spices
After 5 minutes of sauteing, you can add in the herbs and spices like turmeric, cumin, and curry leaves. Saute this for an additional 30 seconds before adding the rice.
Mix the rice through to combine everything. Now, you have cumin-spiced turmeric rice, to kick things up a notch we’re going to move to the liquids.
Nasi carrot is even better because of the liquids it cooks in. Mix equal parts of evaporated milk to water and add this into the pot. Crumble in a chicken stock cube and stir it all together.
The final step in this whole recipe is to cook the rice. This is the time to move your rice mixture into a rice cooker, add in the carrots and fold it through. I was making this meal for 8-10 people and our rice cooker can’t handle that kind of capacity so the next section is for those of you cooking your nasi carrot on the stove.
Cooking Nasi Carrot On The Stove
After you’ve added and mixed the grated or shredded carrot into the rice, let the nasi carrot cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat undisturbed. Turn the heat down to low when the liquids have evaporated and are no longer visible. It is ready when there are air pockets in the rice that look like holes.
Place a lid on the rice and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes. The rice will seem a little gloopy or wet but we’re going to remedy that by turning off the heat, fluffing the rice, and placing the lid back on. Let the rice steam for an additional 10 minutes.
And that’s it, Bob’s your uncle. Nasi carrot made easily at home for any occasion. What do you think of this recipe? Have you heard of nasi carrot or nasi minyak before? Drop a comment below if you’ve tried this recipe or if your family has a spiced rice dish similar to this Malaysian nasi carrot.
Have a look at our other recipes if you’re interested in making sides to go with this nasi carrot:
Ayam Golek (Malaysian Coconut Cumin Roast Chicken) Low FODMAP
Acar Buah (Malaysian Cucumber Pineapple Salad)
Looking for more authentic Asian classics? Try making this sardine fried rice recipe:
Nasi carrot is the ultimate Malaysian spiced rice. White rice is cooked with spices like cumin and turmeric, infused with aromatics, curry leaves, carrot ribbons, and chicken stock.
- 4 cups of rice
- 2 large carrots (peeled and grated)
- 1 cube of chicken stock
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- In a blender:
- 40g ginger
- 1 red onion (100g)
- 6 cloves of garlic (20g)
- 4 stalks of curry leaves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
In a large pot, add the oil and butter.
Place the chopped ginger, garlic, and onion in a blender and mix until smooth.
Add the blended mixture into the pot and cook on medium-low heat. Saute the aromatics for 5 minutes.
While the aromatics are sauteing, grate your carrots into fine strands.
When the aromatics have turned a light shade of brown, add in the curry leaves, turmeric, and cumin. Stir everything until combined.
Add 4 cups of rice and saute for 30 seconds.
Add 3 cups of water, 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk, salt, and the chicken stock cube.
Stir the pot and mix all the ingredients together.
Add in the grated carrots and stir one more.
Let the rice cook for 10 minutes.
After 10-15 minutes, 3/4 of the water has evaporated. Place a lid over the pot and turn the heat down to low.
Cook the rice on low heat for another 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off after 10 minutes and fluff the rice with a spoon or fork.
Place the lid over the pot and let the rice sit in the pot and steam for 10-15 minutes.
Serve alongside coconut roast chicken (ayam golek) and acar buah (a pickled Malaysian salad) and you'll have a feast perfect for any celebration!