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What Is Nasi Campur?

By Karize Uy
Updated May 16, 2024
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Nasi Campur is a rice dish originally from Indonesia. It features a variety of small amounts of dishes topped on or alongside the rice, which is the main component of the whole dish. Nasi Campur is also enjoyed by other neighboring countries like Singapore and Malaysia. It is also known in other regions as “Nasi Rames.”

The term “Nasi Campur” comes from the Bahasa language, with “nasi” translated as “rice,” while “campur” — pronounced cham-poor — means “to mix,” translating the term as “mixed rice.” It is uncertain where and when the dish came from, but what is evident is that the dish is an economical way of utilizing and re-cooking any kind of leftover dishes to produce a new kind of dish. The dish also creates a unique and convenient experience for food enthusiasts who like to understand the Indonesian culture by their special cuisines.

Indonesia, being an archipelago of thousands of islands, boasts diversity and multiplicity of cultures, a characteristic reflected in the Nasi Campur. It is said that in each region, no two dishes of the Nasi Rames are alike. The cooking methods are also varied, with the viands fried, steamed, grilled, or stewed in coconut milk, although rice is always boiled.

In Bali, the viands included in the dish have a curry-like taste with a distinct flavor of “basa genep,” a local mix of spices often used in the dishes. The Javanese version of the dish, on the other hand, is most often served with fried noodles, while the Chinese-style version is abundant in barbecued meat such as pork and chicken. Other protein dishes also include beef, duck, and goat, as well as a variety of seafood like fish, shrimps, and mussels. For those who are vegetarians, dishes in a Nasi Campur can include tofu, curried vegetables, and stir-fried bean sprouts.

Nasi Campur can also consist of some appetizer dishes such as “kropek” or deep-fried fish crackers, pickled vegetables, and peanuts. For breakfast, an egg sunny side up or scrambled is often added. Asians have a liking for soups and condiments, so the rice dish can also be accompanied with a bowl of hot soup or a small saucer of soy sauce, fish paste, or chili. Some people say that a hot cup of tea goes well together with the dish, while others say that a bottle of local beer is the ideal beverage.

Indonesia has since expanded the popularity of the dish, with restaurants dedicated solely to producing a customized Nasi Campur for each customer. A typical restaurant would have an array of dishes in a separate area, very similar to a buffet where customers just help themselves to whatever dishes they prefer. Some restaurants would even have more than a hundred dishes for customers to choose from, and the price of the meal would depend on what dishes were selected.

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