Nasi goreng is distinguished from other Asian fried rice recipes by its aromatic, earthy and smoky flavour, owed to generous amount of caramelized kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and ground powdered terasi (shrimp paste), and the flavour is stronger and spicier compared to Chinese fried rice. Nasi goreng often includes krupuk and bawang goreng (fried shallots) or (fried onions) to give a crispier texture.
The main ingredients of nasi goreng include pre-cooked rice, sweet soy sauce, powdered terasi (shrimp paste), salt, garlic, shallot, chilli pepper, spring onions, nutmeg, turmeric, vegetable oil, onions, palm sugar, ginger garlic paste, and slices of cucumber and tomato for garnishing. Some recipes may add black pepper, fish sauce, or powdered broth as a seasoning and taste enhancer. Eggs might be mixed into fried rice or fried separately, either as telur ceplok/telur mata sapi (sunny side up eggs), or telur dadar (omelette), and also telur rebus (boiled eggs). Originally optional, the addition of fried egg is often named as nasi goreng spesial (pakai telur) or special fried rice topped with fried egg.