How-To: Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice)

Having lived in Malaysia for more than 10 years, it is no wonder why my family loves this dish. In Malaysia, Nasi Lemak is considered a national dish and this is usually consumed in the morning; Nasi Lemak hawkers can be seen anywhere nearby schools or offices. Traditionally, Nasi Lemak is served with a hot spicy sauce (sambal), and usually include various garnishes, including fresh cucumber slices, small fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, and hard-boiled or fried egg. You will also see some additional dishes which you can add to make a more substantial meal. These dishes are ayam goreng (fried chicken), sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chili), small fried fish, cockles and rendang daging (beef/chicken).

Interestingly, when we returned to Singapore, we saw a different variation of how this nasi lemak is being consumed. Nasi Lemak usually comes with a deep fried chicken wing/drumstick, boiled eggs/fried eggs, fried anchovies, and a sweeter version of sambal. The additional dishes which you can choose from is fish cake, curried vegetables and luncheon meat.

I have been trying to perfect this rice for a long, long time. To me the rice needs to be not only fragrant but not soggy. I hope what I am sharing will help those who wants a good Nasi Lemak to begin with before I start sharing the  dishes in my following posts.

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Serves 3 to 4 person



For the rice:


2 cups rice

2 cups of coconut milk

3 screwpine (or pandan) leaves (knotted)


1 stalk of lemongrass (cut only the white part into 3 slices and crush)

½-inch of ginger (thinly sliced)

Salt to taste

For the Sambal:

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

5 shallots

15 dried chillies (deseed)

1½ teaspoon of belacan (prawn paste)

½ teaspoon of salt (+/-)

1 tablespoon of sugar (+/-)

1 cup of water

Tamarind pulp (size of a small ping pong ball)

3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil


3 eggs

150g of anchovies

1 small cucumber (cut into thin slices)

50g Roasted Peanuts

Cooking oil

1 or 2 pcs of banana leaves (optional)


Cooking the Rice:

  1. Wash, rinse and drain the rice.
  2. Add coconut milk, sliced ginger, crushed lemongrass and a pinch of salt into the rice and mix well.
  3. Lastly add the knotted screwpine leaves (if available).
  4. Cook the rice in the rice cooker.

Cooking the Sambal: (This step can be prepared the day before)

  1. Pound the prawn paste together with onions, shallots, garlic, and deseeded dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
  2. Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the tamarind to extract the flavor into the water.
  4. Sieve the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
  5. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry the grinded spice paste until fragrant.
  6. Add tamarind juice, salt, and sugar.
  7. Continue to simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens and then set aside.

Cooking of Anchovies:

  1. Wash the dried anchovies and drain the water.
  2. Sauté the anchovies until they turn light brown and crispy and set aside.

Preparation of the Eggs:

  1. Boiled the eggs for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Deshell the hard boiled eggs and then cut them into half and set aside.


  1. Beat the egg
  2. Heat up a frying pan with a little oil and pour in the beaten eggs.
  3. Remove the eggs from the pan when it is nicely fried.
  4. Cut them into strips or divide into 3 to 4 portions and set aside.

To serve:

  1. Place a piece of cleaned banana leaf on a plate and spoon the coconut milk rice on it.
  2. Garnish the rice with cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs/fried eggs, fried anchovies, sambal and roasted peanuts.

Mummy's Kitchen

Hi! My name is Josephine Go. I blog at in a segment called Mummy’s Kitchen. I love to use fresh and natural ingredients in my cooking to promote healthy eating. Some of my recipes may not be in line with the traditional methods of cooking to the extent that some of the ingredients are different, but hopefully new recipes are being created in my style. I certainly hope that what I do will help guide kitchen first-timers on how to cook their first meal as well as further equip kitchen veterans with new recipes. My loving husband and two wonderful children are my best guinea pigs and critics. They have enjoyed (or endured) the food that has been served to them for all these years. Mind you, I did not know how to cook or ever knew that I could cook till I got married. So there is hope for everyone. If I can cook, you can cook. You will not know how good or talented you are until you put your hand in the plough.

4 thoughts on “How-To: Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice)

  1. Your recipe on nasi lemak seems good, i will give it a try. Thanks for sharing. Hope to have more equally interesting recipes from you.

    1. Hi Jennie. I hope your nasi lemak turns out well! Feel free to share a picture of your results on our Facebook page! 🙂

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