Nasi Lemak: How To Make Malaysian Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak is a rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf with a Malay fragrance. It is commonly found in Malaysia, where it is considered the national dish. It is also a common dish in neighboring areas with significant Malay populations such as Singapore, Brunei, and Southern Thailand.

It can be found in several parts of Sumatra in Indonesia. In particular, you will find this dish in the Malay realm of Riau, the Riau Islands, and Medan. Nasi lemak can also be found in the Mindanao region prepared by Filipino Moro in Bangsamoro.

It is a hearty meal adorned by both the Malays and non-Malays who have their own version of nasi lemak. The rice is the same in most recipes, though due to the pandan leaves, some have a greenish hue. However, it’s the side dishes that set each variation apart.

Malaysian Nasi Lemak

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

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

Photo credit: @thedivaeatsprata /

Malaysian Nasi Lemak Ingredients

For the garnish,

  • 5 medium-sized eggs
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup of cooking oil
  • 1 cup of raw peanuts
  • 1 package of white anchovies

For the sauce,

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 1 package of while anchovies
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup tamarind juice

Malaysian Nasi Lemak Instructions

Step 1: Stir the coconut milk, water, ground ginger, ginger root, salt, bay leaf, and rice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover, then bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until rice is ready.

Step 2: Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, and remove from heat immediately. Cover and let the eggs sit for 10 to 12 minutes in hot water. Drain hot water from the eggs, then let the eggs cool. Once they are cool, peel and slice in half. Cut the cucumber into thin rounds.

Step 3: In the meantime, heat 1 cup of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok. Stir in peanuts and cook until lightly browned. Remove peanuts with a slotted spoon, and place excess grease on paper towels. Return to stove. Add the contents of one box of anchovies. Then cook for a moment, turning, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place the anchovies on paper towels. Clean your skillet well.

Step 4: In the clean skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion, garlic, and shallots; cook for about 1 or 2 minutes, until fragrant. Mix in the chili paste and cook, occasionally stirring, for 10 minutes. If the chili paste is too dry, then add a little water. Add the remaining anchovies, and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt, sugar and tamarind juice; simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is thick.

Step 5: Serve the warm rice with the onion and garlic sauce, and top with peanuts, fried anchovies, cucumbers, and eggs.

Malaysian Nasi Lemak Additional Information

  • Per serving, this recipe has 578 calories, 31.9g of fat, 57.4g of carbohydrates, 19.5g of protein. 
  • This recipe can serve up to eight people.
  • This dish will take about one hour to prepare.
  • Nasi lemak comes in many variations in Malaysia and Singapore, as it is prepared by various chefs from different cultures.

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About Malaysian Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak in the North West Peninsular appears to have curry in it. The sambal seems to range from hot to moderately hot with a sweet taste. The original nasi lemak in Malaysia is a typical Malaysian breakfast in the Southern and Central Peninsula. It is considered to be of Malay origin. However, because of the dish’s popularity, it’s regarded as an international dish.


Most Malaysian Indians, however, are Muslims. Thus. they do not eat beef. Nasi lemak is served with curry in the Malaysian Indian version. These variations include chicken curry, fish curry, and lamb curry.

For more international recipes, click here.

Featured image: @suhaidasahabudin /, @zoekitzu /