Yellow Sticky Rice | Nasi Kunyit


10 Minutes


30 Minutes




The type of sticky rice that I know growing up is called “nasi kunyit”, a Malay word. “Nasi” means rice and “kunyit” means turmeric. Literally translated it means “turmeric rice”. Normally it is cooked using normal rice but on a special occasion, it is cooked using “glutinous rice”. The grain of glutinous rice is what makes it sticky once cooked due to its low amylose content.

As a Malaysian Chinese born and grew up in Penang, it is a tradition when a baby is born and has his or her first month birthday called “mua guek” in my local dialect “hokkien”, the family will make “kari kay” chicken curry with potatoes, “ang nui” boiled eggs with their shells dyed red, “ang ku” red tortoise cake made from glutinous rice flour wrapped with mung bean fillings, and “ooi pui” yellow sticky rice coloured with turmeric powder. These four food items have a special meaning to the family representing harmony, unity and new life into the family. The food will be shared with other family members, relatives and friends.

The creamy rich and sticky texture of this sticky rice is a perfect accompaniment with the two curries in my previous posts.

Yellow Sticky Rice | Nasi Kunyit


  1. Wash and soak the glutinuous rice with ground turmeric

  2. Sieve and rinse the glutinuous rice. Rice at this stage should be yellow from soaking with ground turmeric

  3. Prepare and wipe clean a few banana leaves

  4. Place glutinuous rice on top of banana leaves in a steaming tray

  5. Mix coconut milk/cream into the rice and steam until rice is sticky and cooked  

How to make

Put 2 cups of glutinous rice in a large bowl and wash under running tap water until water is almost clear. This may take 4-5 times to wash and drain the water.

Fill enough water to cover the surface of the rice in the bow. Add 1 tablespoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 slices of tamarind peel. Cover with a cling wrap and soak overnight or at least 4 hours.

Remove the packet of banana leaves and pandan leaves from your freezer and thaw outside. Once you can remove the leaves, gently separate 1 large banana leaf from its packet and 3-4 pandan leaves from its packet.

With the banana leaf, gently wash under hot tap water or wipe the leaf with a warm cloth. Use a scissor to cut the leaves into sizes that will fit in the steamer into layers.

With the pandan leaves, wash gently under cold tap water and fold into knots. This will help release the aroma.

Rinse the soaked rice over running tap water until the water is clear. The rice should now be yellow in colour from soaking with the turmeric powder. Remove and discard tamarind peels. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1 teaspoon white peppercorn. Mix through with rice.

On the base of a steamer, add few layers of the banana leaves.

Place the rice on top of the banana leaves. Add the knotted pandan leaves to sit on top of the rice. Cover with the lid. Then place the steamer to sit on top of a pot of boiling water. Steam for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes of steaming, remove and check the rice. It should be halfway cooked. Now add another 1/4 cup of coconut milk over the rice. Also check the water level in the pot. Add more hot boiling water if required. Do not let the water dry up or it would burn and catch fire. Place the steamer back onto the pot and steam for another 15 minutes.

After a second round of 15-minutes, check the rice. It should be cooked and becomes sticky.

In a small cup or bowl, add 1/4 cup of coconut cream with a pinch of salt and mix through. Add the coconut cream on the rice. Cover the lid and steam for another 5 minutes.

Remove and serve with a mild flavoured chicken curry.



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  • 2 cups glutinous rice (equivalent to 450 ml or 256.5 gm)

  • turmeric powder

  • white peppercorn

  • salt

  • tamarind peel (comes dehydrated in a packet at Asian supermarket)

  • 400 ml coconut milk (only use some)

  • 200 ml coconut cream (only use some)

  • banana leaves (comes frozen packed at Asian supermarket unless you live in Asia)

  • pandan leaves (comes frozen packed at Asian supermarket unless you live in Asia)