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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Rijsttafel, An Indonesian Feast with a Colonial Twist #EattheWorld #SundayFunday

When I announced that I was going to do a Rijsttafel for our family New Year's Eve dinner, the response was mixed. Initially, there was the excitement about the Indonesian flavors and dishes that they love; then, there was the reluctance to celebrate "the colonizers."

Today this post serves a dual purpose. It is both my March #EattheWorld post as well as my offering for the #SundayFunday Indonesian Food event hosted by Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures. Read more about the Eat the World project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz; here's her challenge.

The #EattheWorld Posts

The Sunday Funday Posts

Our Rijsttafel Menu

I initially saw rijsttafel mentioned by a family friend who is Dutch-Indonesian. I was instantly intrigued.

If you follow me, or know me in real life, you might know that I spent several years of my childhood living in the Netherlands. I thought I was Dutch! Besides we love Indonesian foods.

And I had just recently gotten the book Dutch Feast by Emily Wight which had an entire chapter on Rijsttafel. Serendipity!

Rijsttafel is to Indonesia as Chicken Tikka Masala is to Britain, which is to say that it is a Dutch interpretation of Indonesian food. Rijsttafel translates as 'rice table'. It showcases a variety of Indonesian dishes to which the Dutch were exposed and beam enamored with.

This is an elaborate feast with lots of dishes accompanied by rice. Among the Indonesians, this might be based on communal feasts called slametans where people sat in the floor and dined together with multiple dishes served all at once. Among the colonizers, it was a display of exoticism and wealth, served at tables with cloths and in a parade of multiple courses.

Given that the name of this meal translates to 'rice table', it is fitting that I am sharing my version of Nasi Kuning, Indonesian turmeric rice, here. All of the side dishes are linked below...

Nasi Kuning


  • 2 cups rice

  • 1 Tablespoon turmeric powder

  • 1 Tablespoon lemongrass paste

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 Makrut lime leaves

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup coconut milk

  • 2½ cups water


Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the rice and the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Let the rice steam for twenty minutes. The liquid should be completely absorbed and the rice soft and fluffy. Fluff with a fork and serve with all the delicious dishes you have made to go on your rice table!

The Savories

The Condiments

Click for the recipes.

  • Serundeng

  • Sambal Kacang

  • Sambal Oelek

The Sweets

  • Klepon (Sweet Pandan Rice Balls with Coconut)

  • Es Teler (Indonesian Drunk Ice)

  • Butter Mochi (not Indonesian or traditional, but one of our favorites)

That's a wrap for my double offering. The #EattheWorld crew will be back next month, cooking from another county. I can't wait to see what Evelyne picks for us. And the #SundayFunday group returns next week with asparagus recipes. Stay tuned!

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sneha datar
sneha datar
Mar 13

Wow! that's an delicious Indonesian food platter.. love every recipe!


Margaret Bose Johnson, Kitchen Frau
Margaret Bose Johnson, Kitchen Frau
Mar 11

Thanks for the explanation of what a Rijsttafel is - I had heard about it and was very curious. It looks like a fun and delicious way to experience Indonesian foods. I really want to try making the Eggs in Sambal!


Sue Lau
Sue Lau
Mar 11

Such a nice selection! The pandan balls and lumpia have really caught my eye!


Karen Kerr
Karen Kerr
Mar 10

I have that cookbook too and love it! This is a beautiful feast. Thanks for the recipe for sambal oelek!


Juli Meyers
Juli Meyers
Mar 10

I love the recipes, and the feast ideas. All the flavors this month are tantalizing

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