Nasi Lemak a dish that is considered not just a national dish of Malaysia but a national heritage as well, it is a dish that consists of several components such as rice that is cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, sambal (a cross between chilli chutney and sauce), ikan bilis (fried dried anchovies), boiled eggs, cucumber and roasted peanuts wrapped in a banana leaf.
A popular dish in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and South of Thailand. It is a common sight to most of Mamak’s (A food establishment which serves Mamak food where Mamak refers to Tamil Muslims living in Malaysia who generally own and operate them) tables, it is even placed in condiments area for easy access as this dish can be eaten anytime of the day.
It was believed that it was created by the Malay community that resides in the seafront in Singapore’s during the early days. Coconut was abundant during in the region that time and was used to cook it with rice which gave birth to the nasi lemak. Side dishes then were added according to the available ingredients within the village. Few years later these delicious rice with some side dish were then packed in banana leaves as their lunch packed lunch when they worked in the rice fields. The word Nasi Lemak if directly translated means “fatty rice” which is derived from the cooking process where rice is soaked in coconut cream and steam cooked.
I had a lot of these when I resided in Malaysia, the combination of the aromatic rice and spicy sweet sambal is very addictive. It is an example of a truly remarkable dish as it combines a lot of flavours, textures and even aroma in one serving, definitely a must try for those who loves South East Asian Cuisine.
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- 3 cups rice
- 3 pandan/screw pine leaves, tied in a knot
- 1½ cups coconut milk
- 1½ cups water
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 large white onions, chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 8 dried chillies, seeds removed
- 4 fresh red chillies, seeds removed
- 1 tbsp Belachan
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp oil
- fish sauce
- 3 eggs, hard boiled and halved
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- Soy Garlic Chicken
- roasted nuts
- fried dried anchovies
- banana leaves
- Clean rice in water, drain then add coconut milk, water, salt and pandan leaves.
- Place in rice cooker, then cook
- Using a food processor blend together Belachan or bagoong, white onions, garlic, oil, fresh chillies and dried chillies. If you want to do the traditional way you can use mortar and pestle to mix everything to a paste.
- Soak the tamarind pulp in water then squeeze to extract the juice into the liquid, drain then set aside.
- In a wok add oil then cook the chilli mixture until fragrant.
- Add sliced onions and cook until soft.
- Add tamarind juice, fish sauce (to taste) and sugar. Simmer in low heat and cook until liquid is reduced. Set aside.
- Slightly apply heat over the banana leaves in stove top to release its oils.
- Place banana leaves on plate then place a cupful of rice over it while still hot.
- Top rice with sambal.
- Surround the plate with Soy Garlic Chicken, peanuts, cucumber, fried anchovies and eggs.