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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Vegetarian Nasi lemak Recipe / Malaysian Cuisine

Nasi lemak is a familiar name to any one who lives in or has been to Malaysia. It is a fragrant rice dish cooked in Coconut milk and Pandan leaf and Malaysians consider it as their National dish . Nasi lemak in Malay language literally means rich and creamy rice. The name is derived from the cooking process where the rice is steamed in coconut cream . The rice is generally cooked with Pandan leaves (screw-pine leaves) which impart distinctive flavour to the dish.

Traditionally Nasi lemak is served with a hot spicy sauce (Sambal) and usually served with various garnishes , including fresh Cucumber slices, small fried Anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts and hard boiled or fried egg .  Nasi lemak is widely eaten in Malaysia and Singapore. Although it is commonly consumed as breakfast in both the countries, locals have it during any time of the day.
Source: Wikipedia

Here I am sharing a very simple vegetarian version of Nasi lemak with easily available ingredients which I got to learn from a local, here in Penang. Sambal is considered as the most important part of the Nasi lemak meal. It is a moderately spicy sauce  made from red chilies, shallots and garlic. It is slightly sweet due to added sugar and tangy due to addition of tamarind pulp. 

Ingredients for rice:
  • 1 cup Jasmine fragrant rice (washed and drained)
  • 1 cup undiluted Coconut milk 
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3-4 Pandan (screw-pine )leaves slightly shredded and tied into a knot.
  • Ginger 1/2 inch chopped length wise
  • Few strands of Lemongrass
  • Salt to taste
Ingredients for Sambal:
  • 8-10 dried red Chilies (Cut each Chili into 2-3 pieces and soak in warm water)
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic
  • 5-6 shallots
  • Few strands of Lemongrass
  • 1 onion cut into slices or rings
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Tamarind juice
  • Salt to taste
Condiments :
  • 1 Cucumber cut into thin slices
  • 3 -4 tbsp of Peanuts (Pan fried with 1/2 tbsp of oil until crisp and fragrant)
  • Spiced Veggies (have tossed french beans and carrots sticks with some chili paste (the one we used for making sambal) and salt .
  1.  Place the rice in the rice cooker pot along with water, Coconut milk, Ginger , Lemongrass and tied Pandan leaves. Srinkle salt and stir well and cook the rice as normal until cooked. Flupp up with fork and keep warm until ready to serve.

  2.  Drain the soaked chilies and grind it with shallots , Garlic and Chopped lemongrass strands to a paste. Use little water while grinding. 

   3.  Heat up cooking oil in a frying pan or wok on medium heat and fry this blended paste for about 7-10 minutes . Now add onion rings and fry for 2-3 minutes more. Add water to attain the desired consistency. Now add the tamarind juice and finally season it with salt and sugar . Stir well and put off the flame. 

  4.  In a serving tray place a clean Banana leaf lined with wax paper . Using a bowl, shape the rice and place on this leaf. Spoon Sambal on or at the side of the rice , place few slices of Cucumber, some pan fried peanuts and spiced veggies. Serve hot. 

If you are looking for more recipes from Malaysian Cuisine , check out my Pineapple Jam Tarts .


  1. Looks divine, thanks! Will try soon

    1. Thanks for stopping by my site to give such a positive feed back Meenz . Happy Cooking :)

  2. Made your recipe today. Tastes superb !!

  3. Thanks. I want to cook for my vegetarian friends

    1. Your welcome. Do share your feedback with us.. happy cooking !

  4. Sounds delicious. Thanks for posting this, I will try this out.

  5. is it the same method if i cook the rice without a rice cooker

  6. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your meal with more recipes on Chefmeghnas

  7. Heavenly, will try this out

  8. Nasi lamak looks so good and quite easy to make. Good to know about Malaysian cuisine.