The Rice Table
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Malaysia's National Dish

  • Mar 6, 2010
This is in fact a very simple dish which is mostly sold at the foot courts in Singapore or peddled by hawkers in Malaysia. Originally, the dish was intended as a breakfast item but it was so popular that it extended to lunch these days. With the extension, it also leads to expansion. By that, I mean the items were later added, like the fried chicken wings or drumsticks which are truly popular in Singapore's version of Nasi Lemak.

Nasi means rice in the Indonesian/Malaysian language. Lemak more or less translates to coconut cream. As the rice is basically cooked with coconut cream with herbs like lemon grass & spices like ginger, this style of cooking rice is commonly known as Nasi Lemak. 

Typically, Nasi Lemak comes wrapped in banana leaves and as pictured above, the common ingredients found are:
  1. Rice
  2. Peanuts
  3. Sambal (chili)
  4. Ikan Bilis (anchovies)
  5. Cucumber
  6. Egg

Normally, a packet sells for less than $1. However due to inflation and an 'expanded' version of Nasi Lemak in which there are more of rice and other add-on side dishes, it may not be sold in the range of $1 - $2 depending on where you are getting them. It is usually not more than $3 unless you are asking for 2 drumsticks or more Rendang (a beef dish). Hence, Nasi Lemak is highly popular due to its affordability and delicious nature.

There are a few different version of Nasi Lemak but in general though, you can be sure that the rice is cooked with coconut milk and that's what make this a special dish. Some may add cuttlefish to it while others may prefer different types of eggs, be it hard boiled, fried or scrambled.

In addition, it's so popular in Malaysia that it's been known to be classified as a national dish! 

Tip: What makes this dish so special is the fragrant rice as well as the sambal chili. It may looks simple enough but the basic & common ingredients found on the plate all combine perfectly and thereby making it simple but stunning. Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised! 

Sometimes, the simplest thing in life turns out to be the best thing! :-)

Malaysia's National Dish Malaysia's National Dish

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March 06, 2010
nice review! One thing I've noticed is that Indonesian, Malaysian, Phillippine and even Thai cuisine has strong similarities. us Asian love rice! LOL
March 06, 2010
I think all Asians love rice, that's why The Rice Table ;-) Oh well, you must be quite hungry today! That was quick, my review was up barely a minute! :D Thanks!!!
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Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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About this food


Nasi lemak is a dish sold in MalaysiaBruneiSingapore and Southern Thailand. In Kuala Lumpur, it is called the national dish, a national heritage of Malaysia. The version sold in the east coast of Malaysia, Terengganu and Kelantan is called Nasi Dagang although both dishes can usually be found sold side by side for breakfast. There is a similar dish in Indonesia called nasi uduk.

With roots in Malay culture, its name is a Malay word that literally means 'rice in cream'. The name is derived from the cooking process whereby rice is soaked in coconut cream and then the mixture steamed. Sometimes knotted screwpine (pandan) leaves are thrown into the rice while steaming to give it more fragrance. Spices such as ginger (common in Malay cuisine) and occasionally herbs like lemon grass may be added for additional fragrance.

Traditionally, this comes as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaf, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce (sambal) at its core. As a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also come with a variety of other accompaniments such as chicken, cuttlefishcockle, stir fried water convolvulus (kangkong), pickled vegetables (achar), beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices) or paru (beef lungs). Traditionally most of ...

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