The Nasi Kuning Phenomenon in Gorontalo

Posted by OmarTarakiNiodeFoundation
14 May 2017 | blogpost

Yellow rice dishes can be found all over the world. In  Indonesia, nasi kuning known as fragrant yellow rice is made of rice or sticky rice, cooked with turmeric and coconut milk and spices. Generally nasi kuning is served at the celebration of life cycles such as birth, baby shower, birthday, or marriage.

In Gorontalo, nasi kuning is not only served on special occasions, but is also a dish that is available anywhere from morning to night. The vendors are diverse, street hawkers selling under the trees, in bamboo huts, in house porchs, in the middle of the market, in simple restaurants and fancy restaurants, or even online.

Nasi Kuning Economic Value

According to sociologist Dr. Funco Tanipu from the State University of Gorontalo, in almost every street in Gorontalo we can find nasi kuning sellers. This has been going on for decades. Compared to common Indonesian breakfasts such as chicken porridge, or instant noodles, he added, nasi kuning is more popular. The economic value of nasi kuning, with price ranges between Indonesian Rupiahs 3,000, - to Rp. 30.000, - (US$0,25 to US$ 2,50) per portion may as well be the largest income from the culinary sector in Gorontalo.

Observing the phenomenon above, the Omar Niode Foundation held a conversation about Nasi Kuning in Gorontalo, attended by culinary business owners, artists, university lecturers, students, tour guides, journalists and photographers. Although there is no exact data on when nasi kuning became popular in Gorontalo, it has been in existence at least for a hundred years because nasi kuning is always available in religious rituals, served with tiliaya (steamed egg and palm), and toyopo (woven young coconut leaves) as a container.

Nasi Kuning Preferences

Nasi kuning is mostly sold in Gorontalo for breakfast, wrapped in banana leaves and served with sliced tuna and rice vermicelli, called laksa. Chili sauce is a must, and sometimes there are additional soy sauce and boiled eggs.

Nasi kuning in Gorontalo may be considered a fanaticism. Students, laborers and office workers always start their day with nasi kuning, purchased in front of schools, in college canteens, on certain streets, or in government offices. Generally every nasi kuning seller has regular customers, because each seller has specific ingredients and style in terms of the rice, the yellow hues, side dishes and spices used.

Some of the best-known nasi kuning eateries in Gorontalo, serve nasi kuning with complete side dishes such as chicken satay, beef satay, lamb satay, chicken soup and beef soup.

How customers consume nasi kuning in Gorontalo is based on their preferences, hence there are nasi kuning terms based on its location or the time it is available. For example, Nasi Kuning Oma Bandara (Airport Grandma Nasi Kuning) is cooked by an elderly lady who lives near the airport and becomes a regular meal of flight crews on duty to Gorontalo. While the Nasi Kuning Tenga Malam (Midnight Nasi Kuning) belongs to a young man named Pecko who sells his nasi kuning only from 9 pm until 3 am, ordered online and delivered warm to customers.