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. Java rice

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.
  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).
  5. Add the rice to the pan.
  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


  1. says

    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)

  2. ach13 says

    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!)


  3. Denise says

    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!

  4. says

    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. :)

  5. Denise says

    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!

  6. says

    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. :)

  7. Louie says

    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!

  8. says

    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. :)

  9. kulasa says

    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!

  10. Paton says

    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!

  11. lani says

    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.

  12. says

    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!

  13. chunky says

    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!

  14. sam of kuwait! says

    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 :(

  15. Bobby Tejada says

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

  16. paul says

    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

  17. JOEY TOSINO says

    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.

  18. Celia says

    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,

  19. Clare says

    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.

  20. says

    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.

  21. allan says

    “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.

  22. lala says

    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…

  23. Carolina nadela says

    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

  24. Joel Datu says

    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!

  25. Ingenue19 says

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

  26. says

    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 :-(

  27. says

    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 says

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

  28. Lerker says

    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.

  29. Angela Ubaldo says

    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.

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