Tapai: A Practical and Delicious Way to Prepare Rice


A lot of people like to eat rice – it’s incredibly filling, it has plenty of calories, and it tastes great! Rice is also extremely versatile – you can use it in sweet dishes, you can add savory spices to it, and you can even throw on some tuna or chicken for extra protein.

But did you know that there’s more than one way to prepare rice? In this post, we’ll take a look at Tapai – a traditional way of preparing rice in Southeast Asia.

What is tapai?

Tapai is a traditional way of preparing rice that originated in Southeast Asia. The process involves fermenting rice with certain yeasts found naturally in bananas, papayas, or pineapple.

Traditionally, tapai is made from rice mixed with sugar or dried fruits. The result is a sweet-tasting dish that doesn’t require any form of cooking. Instead, it’s left out in the open for various types of yeast—namely lactobacillus—to munch on. As these microorganisms feed on sugars present in tapai, they create lactic acid that keeps mold away from your food. It also makes your food taste even better!

How to prepare tapai

The initial preparation is fairly simple; you soak your rice grains overnight before boiling them as usual. When you drain them and spread them out on trays or bamboo mats, they’ll dry slightly in about 12 hours’ time at room temperature. It’s important that they don’t get too hot during drying (you could use a fan if needed), but not so cold that mold can grow either.

Next, it’s time for fermentation! Make sure you prepare a small bowl of white sugar water ahead of time because it’s going to play an important role later on. Once your rice has dried completely, place it in a mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon white sugar dissolved into 2 cups warm water for every cup of dried rice (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon per cup). Add some yeast from sliced bananas, papayas, or pineapple—or other fruits if you have those instead—and mix thoroughly until all ingredients are well-combined.

Pour it all onto your trays or mats, making sure there are no pockets where air can collect. Place something heavy over top like books or bricks, and let it sit undisturbed in a cool area with good airflow for 3-5 days or longer (some people choose to leave it up to 20 days depending on how sour they want their rice).

The longer you leave it sitting there without disturbing anything, the more tart and sour your tapai will be. By day 5 though, most people agree that any more time than that starts diminishing any benefits of leaving things longer since by then most of what makes tapai different from normal cooked rice will have been produced already.

Health benefits of preparing rice using the tapai metho

Benefit 1: Supports digestion

One of tapai’s most notable benefits is that it supports digestion. The process of fermenting rice can break down some of its components, making them easier for your body to absorb. This action is in line with probiotic supplements, which serve a similar purpose.In particular, tapai contains lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus) which are good for helping your body digest food more effectively. Probiotics can be added as a supplement or consumed directly in foods like yogurt or miso soup. When included as part of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, they help support an overall healthy digestive system by outcompeting harmful bacteria that can cause issues like constipation or diarrhea.

Benefit 2: Boosts your metabolism

Tapai can boost your metabolism, helping you burn extra calories at rest.

In one study, tapai was linked to an increase in metabolic rate of up to 10 percent after a single meal. The study found that tapai helped overweight or obese women lose weight by promoting thermogenesis, which is a process that burns fat stored in adipose tissue by releasing it as heat energy instead of storing it in our bodies for later use.

Benefit 3: Improves your skin

By avoiding processed grains, you’re already one step ahead of many others in your ability to manage skin conditions like eczema. But tapai also has high levels of zinc, which has been shown to help people suffering from psoriasis by reducing inflammation. And by reducing inflammation, you’ll reduce redness.

The yeast in tapai is also beneficial for those looking for a cure-all natural anti-aging cream; it contains human growth factors that will improve skin firmness and elasticity while also stimulating collagen production. You might have noticed some slightly grainy particles in your tapai—that’s because it contains wheat germ oil, another ingredient that helps prevent wrinkle formation.

Benefit 4: Tapai is high in calcium

Tapai contains calcium which is an essential nutrient that helps keep our bones strong. It’s also needed for proper muscle contraction, blood clotting, nerve impulses, and normal heartbeat.

Adequate calcium intake at a young age helps children maintain optimal bone density and grow healthy. Low bone density increases risk of fractures in adults.

Benefit 5: Tapai is high in protein

Tapai is also high in protein, which makes it an excellent choice for those who are looking to increase their daily intake of essential amino acids. Protein is crucial for optimal muscle development and repair, especially after a tough workout. It can also help stave off hunger pangs since it helps you feel full. If you have time before or after exercising, consuming tapai can be a simple way to ensure your body is getting all of its nutrients in one convenient meal or snack.

Benefit 6: Tapai is high in iron

According to LiveStrong, tapai is high in a type of iron that is better absorbed by your body. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when your body does not get enough of these red blood cells. Without them, you may feel weak or tired.

Iron also helps your blood carry oxygen through your body. It’s noted that every 100 grams of tapai provides almost 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of iron. This makes it especially important for children, pregnant women and menstruating women who might be at risk for deficiency because they lose blood during these times in their life cycle.

Benefit 7: High in magnesium

Tapai is rich in magnesium, a mineral that plays an important role in many body processes, including muscle function. Magnesium may even help lower cholesterol, reduce osteoporosis risk, and prevent asthma attacks.

In addition, it is required for several steps in carbohydrate metabolism which affects blood sugar levels so it’s no surprise that high fiber diets are associated with reduced rates of diabetes. Since most dietary fiber comes from plant foods like tapai, eating more whole grains may be an easy way to get magnesium into your diet.


Tapai is a traditional way of preparing rice in Southeast Asia. It’s often eaten with fish, meat, or vegetables and it has plenty of fibre and protein. Tapai is also very easy to prepare. It’s a versatile dish that can be made from sweet rice or glutinous rice; you can even mix tapai with other types of rice for a delicious side dish.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and you’re ready to make your first Tapai-style rice. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below to download 20 nutrition and exercise tips as well as 6 free fat loss recipes.


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