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Nasi Lemak Recipe by Fizah

No other dish in Malaysia is as famous as nasi lemak. It consists of rice cooked in coconut milk that is traditionally served with anchovies, cucumbers, peanuts, and boiled eggs. The dish is rounded up with the addition of a spicy chili paste called sambal.

Although originally invented as a breakfast dish, soon it surpassed its original purpose and became the Malaysian national dish which can be eaten at any time. Its invention occurred from the mere necessity to exploit all ingredients which were at hand, and the popularity of nasi lemak has continually risen since the 1980s, when this farmer’s meal evolved into a dish that is frequently sold by Malaysian street vendors.

Eventually, the dish became a comfort food staple for the majority of Malaysians. With its popularity came different variations of the dish, and nowadays chicken, fried fish, fried eggs, or even curry are served on the side of nasi lemak. It is traditionally served hot and packed in banana leaves.


Coconut Rice

⦁ 3 cups basmati rice

⦁ 1 tablespoon salt

⦁ 2 Screwpines leaves, tied into a knot

⦁ 3 cups coconut milk

⦁ 1 1/2 cups water

Fried Peanuts and Anchovies

⦁ 2/3 cup peanut or canola oil

⦁ 1 cup raw peanuts with skin on

⦁ 1 1/2 cups dried anchovies, washed and drained

Anchovy Sambal Chili Paste

⦁ 25 pcs of dry chilies (choose less spicy)

⦁ 1 onion, peeled and cut in half

⦁ 3/4 cup water

⦁ 8 tablespoons oil

⦁ 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

⦁ 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

⦁ 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

⦁ 3 tablespoons Tamarind


⦁ 6 banana leaves (12 by 9 inches each), cleaned

⦁ 1/2 small cucumber, sliced

⦁ 3 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half


1.For the nasi lemak: Prepare the coconut rice: Wash the rice by gently rubbing it with your fingers in a bowl filled with water. When the water becomes cloudy, drain the water and repeat the process until the water is

clear. Place the rice in a large saucepan and add the salt, screwpines leaves, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer, uncovered, until steam holes appear in the rice and the surface looks dry,

about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook, without stirring, until all the coconut milk is absorbed and the grains are tender and fluffy, about 20 minutes more. (Alternatively, you can

cook all the ingredients in a rice cooker.) When the rice is done stir the rice.

2. Meanwhile, fry the peanuts and anchovies: Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over mediumlow heat. When the oil shimmers, add the peanuts and cook until they turn brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the peanuts with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.

3. Next, carefully add the dried anchovies and stir-fry, moving the anchovies back and forth, until golden brown and crispy, about 7 minutes. Transfer the anchovies to a paper towel. Discard the oil. Set aside half of the anchovies to serve with rice and use the other half for the chili paste.

4.Prepare the anchovy chili paste: Blend the dry chilies, red onion, and ¼ cup water in a blender to a smooth paste with the consistency of applesauce. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chilies paste, salt, and sugar and stir-fry until fragrant and the oils separate onto the surface, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft, another 5 minutes. Add the tamarind water and remaining ½ cup water and mix well to combine with the paste. Now add half the crispy anchovies and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Taste the pastel and add more sugar or salt if needed; you want a balanced sweet salty taste. Turn off the heat.

5.To serve, line each diner’s plate with a banana leaf. Place about 1 cup of the cooked coconut rice in the middle of the leaf. (If you like, press the rice into a bowl first and then invert it onto the plate for a neat domed shape.) Put about 3 tablespoons of the anchovy sambal on top of the rice. Place a few sliced cucumbers, half of a hard-boiled egg, and finally 1 tablespoon each of the peanuts and fried anchovies around the rice. Serve


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