Nasi Lemak – Famous Malaysian Cuisine

Nasi lemak means “fatty rice” in Malay – a reference to cooking the rice in coconut milk and pandan leaves. The rich flavour and fragrant aroma warm the hearts of all Malaysians!

The dish is authentically Malay, originating in the Indigenous west coast seaside communities in the 19th century. There, coconuts were plentiful, and dried anchovies – a traditional nasi lemak accompaniment – were preserved from the local catch. The dish, regarded as a sustaining meal for farm labourers, gained widespread appeal – by the 1970s, hawkers sold it door-to-door.

Other pairings with nasi lemak include hard-boiled eggs, sambal (a spicy chilli paste), cucumber and peanuts. You’ll find hungry locals hunkered down over heaped plates of this simple rice dish at local markets and roadside stalls.

As with all Malaysian dishes, there are regional and cultural variations. The Malay nasi lemak is usually served “dry” as described, but sometimes it comes with a splash of curry or gravy, or topped with fried chicken, fish or egg. The Chinese version uses the fragrant rice as a vehicle for proteins like chicken, fish cakes, or curried vegetables.

To order nasi lemak, ask for the sambal on the side, to ease your taste buds into the heat. You may find hawker stalls carry milder, sweeter sambals to cater for spice-averse palates. Cucumber is a must for its cooling properties. Some Malays ladle the sambal on top and mix in through the whole dish for a fiery fix!

Shop name:
Nasi Lemak Tamparuli
Gerai No. 1, Jalan Ibus 18/40, Seksyen 18, Shah Alam
016 360 5390

Famous Malaysian cuisine is a 50-video series produced by Masters of Malaysian cuisine(MOMC) in partnership with Tourism Malaysia.

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