Coconut rice is cooked with aromatic herbs and then wrapped with banana leaves and grilled to perfection. I’m telling you the aroma of grilled banana leaves imparted to the rice is AMAZING ! Unwrapping each packet to devour it is even more amazing !
The prospect of doing outdoor activities this weekend is very promising! Can you believe that we are going to have a 50-60 F (about 12-15 Celcius) ? For three days in a row ? Here in Minnesota! In February! February is one of the coldest months for winter. Considering the -35 F windchill we had last month, this upcoming weather is definitely like a summer for us the Minnesotans! I’m telling you people are going to wear slippers and ditch their jackets (I’m talking about myself!). Sorry, I get a little carried away when I talk about weather during winter time!
Not that I will run out there and grill up a storm (but again…can you blame me?), but few months ago I made this nasi bakar (nasi = rice, bakar = to burn/grill, but we are not burning anything!) and the photos were buried deep down in the archives. I’m running behind this whole blogging thing and I’m trying to get my act together at 10:30 pm. So, please excuse me if I type anything wrong or something doesn’t make sense to you! I usually will go back to read on my own post again after it’s up and try to catch any mistakes.
There are so many versions of nasi bakar out there and honestly, there aren’t really any right or wrong recipes if you ask me. That’s why I love cooking because it’s pretty flexible and forgiving. I cook my rice in coconut milk and aromatic herbs, packed in some chicken and fresh herb, wrapped them in banana leaves and grill them so that the banana leaves impart that amazing aroma to the rice. If you have never grilled with banana leaves before….oh well, truly you are missing out! The aroma is ever so wonderful! Even my 3 and 6 years old kiddos love this nasi bakar.
My version of nasi bakar is more “pale” in color but it tasted amazing. The rice is so fragrant and I think my photos don’t do much justice to the actual thing! Some people put some turmeric to cook their rice and so the color is more vibrant. Really….add in whatever you want ! If you are wondering where to get banana leaves ? The frozen section at the Asian grocery store is where they are at!
Grilled Coconut Rice in Banana Leaves (Nasi Bakar)
- 2 cups of white long grain jasmine/basmati rice
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and finely minced
- 1/2 lb of boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
- Pinch of salt to taste
- 8 fresh kaffir lime leaves tear edges to release flavor
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 stalk of lemongrass cut into half and bruise with heavy object
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Pinch of salt
- 8-10 red chili
- Fresh basil leaves optional
- 6 to 8 pieces of 10 x 10 inch banana leaves thaw if frozen, wiped clean with damp cloth
- Tooth picks
Briefly rinse the rice with clean water and drain the water. Set aside. Preheat a large pot with cooking oil. Add in garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add in the chicken pieces and continue to stir until the chicken turn opaque and cooked through. Season with pinch of salt to your taste. Dish the chicken out and set aside
In the same pot, add in aromatics: kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves, and lemongrass and stir fry for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the rice and continue to stir for another 1 minute. Pour in the coconut milk ,chicken stock, and pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover the pot and let it cook for the next 20 minutes. Uncover and check on the rice. It should be fluffy and cooked through. Fluff the rice with a fork and put the lid back on and turn the heat off. Let it sit for another 10 minutes while you are preparing other things
Place one sheet of banana leaves on your working surface. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the rice (it's really up to you how big or small you want your rice packet be) and place in the middle of banana leaves or you can place more at the side near you. Make a shallow dent along the rice and arrange few pieces of chicken on top of it followed by 1 or 2 piece of red chili. Place few pieces of fresh basil leaves on top. Fold the bottom flap over the rice then the top. Secure both ends with tooth pick. If you place the rice near your side at the beginning, then you can roll it up to the other side and secure both sides with toothpick. This will give you a much rounder wrap. My wrapping is more of a "flat" style. Either way is fine
Preheat your outdoor grill or in my case grill pan (because it's winter when I made this). Place each packet on the grill and let it grill until the banana leaves have grill marks on them. The aroma is amazing. Ready to be served. They can be served as is or with other side dishes
Recipe NotesIf you are using dried herbs instead of fresh, I would suggest you to double up on the quantity as I feel like the dried herbs are not as aromatic compare to the fresh ones
I’m going to make this again very soon!!
Check out other Southeast Asia Recipes you might be interested in.
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