Friday, October 22, 2010

Nasi Goreng’s Many Faces

In many ways, nasi goreng is Indonesia. It is the unofficial national dish, but it is much more than a simple plate of fried rice. Nasi goreng is always changing, filled with different ingredients and flavors, much like the country itself.

At its most basic, nasi goreng, which has Chinese roots, is steamed rice mixed with a dash of soy sauce and chili, cooked with oil in a frying pan.

Simple to prepare, nasi goreng’s popularity stretches all the way back to the colonial era when a Dutch singer, Witeeke Van Dort, wrote what may have been the first song dedicated to extolling the virtues of the dish.

“Geef Mij Maar Nasi Goreng,” which translates as “Just Give Me Nasi Goreng,” has since become a popular part of nasi goreng lore.

With lyrics like “Just give me nasi goreng with fried eggs … with chili, crackers and a glass of beer to go along with,” the song captured the love affair with the dish that continues to this day.

Street food vendors — whose cheap but filling nasi goreng has played a big part in establishing the dish as the people’s food — are responsible for many of the dish’s variations.

Grilled fish, mounds of crackers and a variety of vegetables are normally added.

Whether these vendors have come up with their own take on nasi goreng as a form of culinary creativity, out of necessity because of the availability and price of ingredients, or both, is another discussion altogether.

It seems that when it comes to nasi goreng, anything is possible. One of the most popular local variants is nasi gila, which can be found in many warungs.

Gila, of course, means crazy, and this dish, which normally sells for Rp 15,000 to Rp 20,000 ($1.70 to $2.30), certainly lives up to its name.

More.. (article by Lisa Siregar & Tasa Nugraza Barle)

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