Nasi Lemak

This is my own recipe put together with hints and tips shared by friends.

Nasi lemak, being a Malaysian milk rice made with pandan leaf and coconut 🌴 🥥 milk. In its traditional form, it is served on a banana leaf with the ikan bilis or anchovy sambal taking centre stage. It is served with side dishes of toppings from halved hard boiled eggs, crisply fried peanuts and ikan bilis and slices of cucumber 🥒 rings*.

This is the national dish of Malaysia and is usually the everyday breakfast of all Malaysians. With other additions like fried fish 🐠 🐟 🎣 , prawn 🍤 🦐 or squid 🦑, it is had for lunch and dinner.

Anthony Bourdain revered chef, food author and TV super star called the Nasi Lemak the king of breakfasts in an impressive video – Anthony Bourdain No Reservations Penang

Unfortunately the video is no longer available on YouTube because the account has been terminated.

Let’s first make the sambal ikan bilis.


60 medium sized dry red chilies 

180ml water 

3tbls coconut oil 

1tsp belacan (pronounced blachan -it is a dry prawn paste)

1 medium sized big onion

6 large cloves garlic

2tbls tamarind juice

1tbls coconut milk

Sugar and salt to taste

2 handfuls of ikan bilis


1. Clean the ikan bilis and deep fry them  until light yellow in a kwali or wok. Drain and set aside. 

2. Pick out the chilies and soak them in a pot of boiling water. 

3. Once the chilies are soft to the touch, remove from water and deseed and devein them.

4. Blend the chilies 🌶, and sliced garlic 🧄 together with water, until it turns into a smooth paste.

5. Slice the onion 🧅 cross-wise and rather thick, in half moon slices.

6. To make 2 tbls of the tamarind paste -desolve 2 tbls of tamarind in 3 tbls water and squeeze out the seeds and veins. Set aside.

7. Fry the blachan in the heated coconut oil.

8. As the blachan gets fried, add the chili paste and fry until it gets well cooked. Stir well, then cover and keep stirring with a flat spoon from time to time.

9. Add the tamarind paste, give it a good stir and let it fry.

10. Add the coconut milk, stir and fry.

11. Add the sliced onion and fry until the onions are translucent.

12.Add sugar and salt to taste. Add half of the fried ikan bilis. Stir well, remove from fire, cover and set aside.

To make the nasi lemak –

1. Wash 7 pandan leaves and make it into a big knot.

2. Wash A grade South East Asian white rice three times, tossing the water each time.

3. Put both ingredients in the rice cooker with a few pinches of sea salt and medium thick coconut milk.

4. Once the rice is done, mix it all with a spoon, cover and keep.

For the toppings –

1. To hard boil eggs – wash and boil the eggs with enough water to cover the eggs and a few slices of lime or two tbls white vinegar, (to prevent shell from cracking), for 8 minutes from the time the water starts to boil.

2. Drain the water, pour fresh water in to the pot and set aside.

3. Shell the eggs and halve them.

4. Deep fry handful of peanuts with skin on.

5. Cut cucumber by cutting the top off and rubbing the top round and round until all white substance comes out. Wash and cut in to fairly thick rounds.

To serve –

1. Wash a bowl out with clean water. Pack the rice tightly in to a bowl and turn it upside down on the serving plate.

2. Arrange the fried ikan bilis, fried peanuts, cucumber rings and halved hard boiled eggs around the mound of nasi lemak.

Enjoy 😋.

*The cucumber slices has been mistakenly cut into halves.

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