Nasi Kandar: How To Make Malaysian Nasi Kandar

Nasi Kandar is a traditional dish from northern Malaysia, originating in Penang. It has been popularized in India by Indian Muslim traders. It is a steamed rice meal, which can be flavored and served with a variety of curries and side dishes.

During the 10th century, Tamil Muslims migrated from Southern India to Malaysia, bringing new spices and cooking techniques. Today, their delightful food can be found at restaurants or from the street vendors known as Mamak stalls throughout Malaysia.

The rice for a Nasi Kandar dish is often put about three feet high in a wooden tub, which gives it a distinctive aroma. Along with side dishes like fried chicken, curried beef spleen, cubed beef, lamb, fish roe, fried prawns or fried squid, the rice is served.

Malaysian Nasi Kandar

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Malaysian

The whole preparation and cooking time is at least 1 hour. This recipe is suitable for at least 4 servings. 

Photo credit: @garfields_girl /

Malaysian Nasi Kandar Ingredients

  • 1/2 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into fourths
  • 2 Pandan leaves
  • 4 string curry leaves
  • 4 string coriander leaves, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 anise stars
  • 6 pieces of cardamom
  • 3 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 2 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 packets beef curry powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 3 inches of ginger

Malaysian Nasi Kandar Instruction

Step 1: Wash the chicken and cover it with salts and turmeric. Marinade, and set aside for 30 minutes. After it is done marinading, deep fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked. Remove drain and put aside.

Step 2: Heat oil and saute the sliced onions.

Step 3: Add Pandan leaves, curry leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, and anise star. Stir fry until fragrant.

Step 4: Whisk the curry past into water until blended. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk continuously until well blended and fragrant. Simmer on at least 15 minutes for a while.

Step 5: Add soy sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, broth, and salt to taste.

Step 6: Let it thicken and add in the fried chicken.

Step 7: Simmer until gravy thickens, then add fresh tomato and coriander leaf finally.

Malaysian Nasi Kandar Additional Information

  • Nasi Kandar is traditionally always served on a single plate with its side dishes. However, today small bowls are often used for the side dishes.
  • The curry sauce mix is always poured directly on the rice.
  • This recipe will take at least 1 hour to prepare.
  • This dish can serve 4 people.

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About Malaysian Nasi Kandar

Among the Indian culinary concepts that now populate tables in Malaysia, Nasi Kandar is one of the best. This dish enjoys a popularity that defies its simplicity. Nasi Kandar is hardly subtle; true enthusiasts call for curry banjir, or to flood the dish with a spicy curry sauce to saturate the rice.

As street food, the dish takes its name from its history. Back in British colonial days, street hawkers would dispense Nasi Kandar from baskets suspended from a yoke on their backs. Nasi is Malay for rice and kandar is the local name for a pole or yoke.


Many chain restaurants, such as Nasi Kandar Subaidah, Nasi Kandar Nasmir, Pelita Nasi Kandar, Nasi Kandar Astana Mathina, and Kayu Nasi Kandar have emerged in recent years. If that doesn’t show the popularity of this dish we don’t know what does.

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