Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

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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Nasi Lemak
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Coconut Milk Rice
  • 3 cups rice
  • 3 pandan/screw pine leaves, tied in a knot
  • 1½ cups coconut milk
  • 1½ cups water
  • salt
  • 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
Other Ingredients
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled and halved
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Soy Garlic Chicken
  • roasted nuts
  • fried dried anchovies
  • banana leaves
Coconut Milk Rice
  1. Clean rice in water, drain then add coconut milk, water, salt and pandan leaves.
  2. Place in rice cooker, then cook
  1. 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.
  2. Soak the tamarind pulp in water then squeeze to extract the juice into the liquid, drain then set aside.
  3. In a wok add oil then cook the chilli mixture until fragrant.
  4. Add sliced onions and cook until soft.
  5. Add tamarind juice, fish sauce (to taste) and sugar. Simmer in low heat and cook until liquid is reduced. Set aside.
  1. Slightly apply heat over the banana leaves in stove top to release its oils.
  2. Place banana leaves on plate then place a cupful of rice over it while still hot.
  3. Top rice with sambal.
  4. Surround the plate with Soy Garlic Chicken, peanuts, cucumber, fried anchovies and eggs.


Nasi Lemak Wide


12 Responses

  1. Oh, I do love the sound of that rice – DELICIOUS!

  2. YES… Had Nasi Lemak when I was in Penang a couple of weeks ago. Gawd it was delicious. 🙂

  3. jlaceda says:

    I could have sworn this would be a Filipino recipe. But close enough…Malaysian. Hehe. This looks delicious and begs to be eaten by hand!

  4. mjskitchen says:

    What a great plate of food! That sambal sitting on top of the rice has my mouth burning already and in a good way!

  5. You’re making me hungry !! One of my favourite dishes ever 🙂

  6. Absolute perfection. My ideal comfort food dish for sure.

  7. suituapui says:

    Had had some excellent ones but none around here lately. Even tried to cook my own, not too successful – gotta try again sometime. My emphasis is on the rice – must be really lemak, rich with the santan (coconut milk). Anything less will get the thumbs down.

  8. This looks so delicious! Pinned!

  9. Le Berre Annick says:

    Hello Raymund
    I found your blog post and Nasi Lemak recipe on Pinterest and would be interested in featuring your recipe on my blog, while respecting your format, ownership as well as any requirement you might have.

    My name is Annick, I’m a French woman just starting a new website about the benefits of coconut oil and other products as such. I’m currently writing a few articles based on my experience, when I discovered the many uses of coconut when living in Malaysia.

    The website is not live yet, but I’ll be launching in the next few weeks and I would love to have some great pieces from around the web.

    Let me know if you would be interested,
    Best regards,

  10. Saif says:

    I love Nasi Lemak. That is one of my favorite malaysian food I ate. The combination of boiled egg, cucumber, chicken and anchovies is what makes a great presentation of this dish.

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