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Malaysia Traditional Dish: Nasi Lemak ( Coconut Milk Rice)

Updated on June 25, 2020
peachpurple profile image

Peachpurple loves to share her knowledge on health issues and discuss her experiments on her findings with hubbers

Nasi Lemak is a Malay word which means "rice in cream". This dish obtained its' name from the cooking method whereby the rice is soaked in coconut milk and steamed with knotted screwpine (also known as "pandan") leaves to bring out the wonderful fragrance.

serve on the plate nasi lemak
serve on the plate nasi lemak | Source

Nasi Lemak is a common dish which can be found in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Riau Island and Southern Thailand.

It usually comes along with slices of cucumber, fried archovies (known as 'ikan bilis' locally), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg or fried egg, spicy sauce (known as 'sambal') and sometimes with a side dish such as fried chicken or fried fish.

Nasi lemak can be eaten anytime of the day but most people have it during breakfast, It is a heavy breakfast for small eaters. Some restaurants serve it on plate while others such as hawkers or roadside stalls, packed them in banana leaf for convenience and add further fragrance to this delicacy.

banana leaf nasi lemak
banana leaf nasi lemak

How To Cook Nasi Lemak

Here's the recipe, hope that you will enjoy this dish!


1 1/2 cup rice (uncooked)

2 1/2 cup thin coconut milk

3cm ginger, cut into strips

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 large red onion,sliced into rings

2 screwpine (pandan) leaves, tied into a knot

a pinch of salt


  • Wash rice. Place rice in rice cooker together with the thin coconut milk and other ingredients.
  • When rice is cooked, loosen the rice with wooden spoon.

coconut milk
coconut milk
screwpine (pandan) leaves
screwpine (pandan) leaves | Source
onion rings
onion rings | Source
garlic and ginger
garlic and ginger | Source


some fresh prawns

5tbsp chilli paste

2cm cube belacan

4 shallots

4 cloves garlic

1 serai stalk, sliced

2 big onions

tamarind juice

salt and sugar to taste


  • Shell prawns, keeping the tails intact. Mix them with a pinch of salt.
  • Fry prawns half done. Leave aside.
  • Pound or grind shallots, garlic, serai and belacan together.
  • Cut big onions into rings.
  • Heat up wok with 3 tbsp oil. Stir fry pounded spicy ingredients until fragrant.
  • Add in chilli paste and continue stirring.
  • Add in prawns, tamarind juice.
  • Season with salt and sugar.
  • Simmer for a couple minutes, add in onion rings and turn off heat.


To Prepare Anchovies (ikan bilis) and Groundnuts

A handful of anchovies and groundnuts


Wash anchovies briefly and drain. Do not soak. Otherwise will lose flavor.

Add a little oil in wok. Fry groundnuts until dark brownish. Remove.

Add 5 tbsp oil in wok. Fry anchovies until crispy. Remove.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
ikan bilisgroundnuts
ikan bilis
ikan bilis


Calories: 387kcal

Far: 11g

Protein: 17g

Cholesterol: 183mg

Calcium: 160mg

Iron: 3mg

Nasi lemak is delicious but don't eat it everyday because the coconut milk will increase your cholesterol due to the saturated fat content which is quite high. Once a week is okay.

© 2010 peachy


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    Post Comment
    • peachpurple profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Thanks learning different type of food from different country is a real challenge

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I enjoy learning about new and different foods of which I am unfamiliar. Thanks for writing this. Some of the other ingredients that go into the making of Nasi Lemak are also unfamiliar to me. Would enjoy trying this were it ever available on our side of the world.

    • peachpurple profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      if i had it for a week, i get sick of it too

    • RimaFakih profile image

      Rima Fakih 

      6 years ago from SDA

      I love this, just yesterday finished eating solid ... :)


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