Mount Merapi Rice

by Rapha Menchaca, Pantja Jakarta

Fried rice is quintessential to Indonesian cooking. Chef Rapha Menchaca is using organic brown rice from Mount Merapi and fresh Indonesian mud crabs to create a dish that is equally at home in a low-key countryside setting and his elegant downtown eatery Pantja.


To serve two

Curry Paste:

20g shallots, 20g garlic

2 habanero chili

5 fresh curry leaves

80g butter 

1 ½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground white pepper

3 tbsp madras curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp white sugar


Fried Rice:

400g brown rice
120g precooked crab meat

4 tbsp curry paste (see above)
15g fresh coriander
1 lime

1 ½ tbsp virgin coconut oil

sea salt to season
30g garlic rice cracker

Cook the brown rice in a rice cooker or a closed pan. Let it cool down.

Start preparing the curry paste: Finely chop the shallots, garlic and habanero chili.

Heat a frying pan to medium temperature, add the butter and gently sauté the shallots, garlic and habanero until lightly browned. Add the black pepper, white pepper and curry powder. Stir well and lightly toast the spices for a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and curry leaves. Use a food blender or mortar to work the spice mix into a uniform paste. Set aside.

Heat up a frying pan or wok, add the virgin coconut oil and 4 tbsp of the curry paste. Stir well, then add the brown rice.

Over high heat, stir and toast the rice for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the crab meat and half of the chopped coriander. Gently let the crab meat warm up while stirring the rice. Season with sea salt and serve with lime, coriander and rice crackers.


Store the left-over curry paste in the fridge for up to a month. It’s a great flavour enhancer that can be used with many dishes.

For the crab meat you have different options. The easiest one is canned crab meat. Chef Rapha is using whole Indonesian mud crab. Boil them for 7 minutes before plunging them into ice water. Extract the white meat and use the leftover crab shells to make seafood stock. If you have access to other types of crab such as spanner crab, give it a try, generally speaking, the better the crab the better the dish.

If you can’t find habanero use cabe rawit (birds eye chili).

Rapha Menchaca is the owner / chef of the Pantja restaurant in Jakarta. Inspired by a Californian upbringing, his cooking is driven by high quality local seasonal ingredient and perfecting traditional techniques such as open flame cooking.