This is my rendition of Rice Tafel, which I found in the 1951 edition of the Joy of Cooking. I have loved the Joy of Cooking since I can remember, and when I finally found an old version while vintage shopping one day, my heart just exploded.

Tafel is a Javanese word for table. Who are the Javanese you ask? The Javanese people are from the central and eastern parts of the island of Java, Indonesia (thanks Mr. Google). Those of you who are lucky enough to have had Indonesian cuisine, you will see that this dish brings about the traditional mixture of coconut milk and curry and the aromas of ginger and garlic, but a little more simplistic. Most Javanese cuisines have a slight hint of sweetness with the addition of palm sugar and sweet soy sauce in most of their dishes. As with most Southeast Asian cultures, rice is a staple dish in Java.

Rice Tafel is typically a dish where rice is the center of the table and the main entree itself is spooned over each plate of rice or placed around it.

For this recipe, I am using the traditional curry and coconut milk mixture, but I am using coconut oil instead of butter, 2% milk instead of whole milk, and half low-fat coconut milk and half regular coconut milk. To enhance the flavors, I am also adding lime zest, lime juice, cilantro and scallions.

(click here for full Grocery List)

2 cups 2% milk

1 can low-fat coconut milk

1 can regular coconut milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons curry  powder

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

3 scallions, chopped


1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 limes (zest one of the limes)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups jasmine or basmati rice, cooked separately


  1. In a medium saucepan, simmer the 2% milk, and then add the low-fat coconut milk. Let it reduce then take it off the heat. Let it cool.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until light brown, then add the ginger, garlic and the white part of the scallions and let it cook until soft. Add the curry and paprika.
  3. Pour the regular coconut milk and chicken stock.
  4. Add the milk/coconut milk reduction and let it boil.
  5. While waiting to boil, combine the flour and cornstarch in a small bowl, and then add 3 tablespoons of the liquid, and mix until it is smooth and paste like. Whisk the flour mixture into the sauce.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lime zest and juice of one lime, and then let the sauce reduce some more (about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Strain the sauce to get a smooth consistency. Put the sauce back into the saucepan and add the shrimp. Let the shrimp cook over medium heat for at least 5 minutes.

*this is also a good time to add any vegetables you wish to add. I recommend adding red bell peppers, snow peas, baby peas , and straw mushrooms.

Pour into a separate serving bowl. Garnish with the green parts of the scallion and cilantro. Serve over rice or around the rice. Cut the other lime into wedges and serve with the rice for extra flavor as needed.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did over here.

Rice Tafel 2

Photo by: Mary Putulin