Malaysian Nasi Lemak Recipe

10 May 2013

Nasi Lemak is Malaysia’s national dish. It is also a popular breakfast dish widely eaten in Singapore and Southern Thailand.

It comprises of thick creamy coconut rice, occasionally cooked with pandan leaves for extra aroma, accompanied by fried anchovies, chilli sambal paste, boiled eggs and cucumber. It is a delicious and aromatic combination of flavours often served with a variety of side dishes like prawns or chicken. Many traditional recipes claim the secret to exceptional nasi lemak is that the rice should be steamed halfway the night before with coconut milk and leaves added the following morning.

Sambal sauce is the signature condiment of nasi lemak. It is a combination of dried chillis, tamarind juice, garlic, anchovies and shallots. This chilli sauce has a sweet and tangy flavour. This is a simple remake of authentic Malaysian Nasi Lemak that you can try at home.


Ingredients for coconut rice

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 160mL coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of salt


Ingredients for the sambal sauce

  • 1 cup dried anchovies
  • 10 dried chillies
  • 1 tsp. prawn paste or fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • Ginger
  • Shallots
  • ¼ cup of tamarind juice
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower oil


Other ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 35g roasted peanuts (optional)
  • Pandan leaves/ screwpine leaves



  1. Place rice in a saucepan with coconut milk, 250ml water and salt. Boil and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes until water evaporates and coconut milk is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
  2. Rinse anchovies and fry until brown and crispy.
  3.  Grind chillies together with prawn paste, garlic, ginger and shallots with mortar and pestle. Add ¼ cup of water to create paste. Fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add anchovies and tamarind juice to paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir-fry on low heat for 5 minutes until sauce is thick.
  5. Prepare the boiled eggs, slice them in half and cut cucumber into 4 slices
  6.  Serve on pandan leaf the rice and sambal with hard-boiled eggs, roasted peanuts and cucumber. The pandan leaf has a signature aroma that gives nasi lemak a more authentic flavour.