Nasi Lemak- Recipe

I've been so focused on mooncakes that I'm late in posting my Malaysia Day dish (none other than Malaysia's national dish, nasi lemak). Still, this is a dish for any day of the year. You might even want to eat it every day of the year because it's so darn good. Although your waistline might suffer a bit from the rich coconut rice (totally worth it).

Nasi lemak's base is coconut rice with a super spicy sambal chilli sauce, roasted peanuts and ikan bilis (little fried fishes). It's often also served with a boiled (or fried) egg and cucumber to help cool you off from all that chilli, and also often (but not always) served with chicken curry. Me being the glutton I am, I always have it with chicken curry.

A little heads-up about the chicken curry: the quantity of ingredients are a rough guide. I never really measure anything out properly when I make it, and sometimes I'll add in something extra or not add another thing in (for example, I might decide to add in a star anise, or sprinkle in some ground cinnamon if I'm out of cinnamon sticks). By all means, use your own favourite Malaysian/ yellow chicken curry recipe instead: it doesn't really matter.

I'm particularly proud of this recipe – not only because it's my first time making nasi lemak (shock horror, and me coming from a Malaysian-Chinese background) – but also because of my macadamia sambal creation. It packs a good punch without being so stupidly hot you can't taste it, and the macadamia nuts add a really nice richness to it.

Lots of ingredients go into making this dish, so I'd take the time to read through them and the steps before starting. It's not a difficult dish, it's just a little time-consuming.

Ready? Let's go!

Ingredients for Malay Chicken Curry:

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2cm piece galangal, peeled and finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3tsp palm sugar/ brown sugar
2tbsp Malaysian curry powder
1 tin thick coconut milk

200g baby new potatoes, washed and halved
600g chicken (chopped or left whole, preferably on the bone)
Salt to taste

Ingredients for Macadamia or Cashew Sambal:

6 large red chillies*
Small handful of macadamia or cashew nuts
1 large shallot
3 cloves garlic
1tsp anchovy paste/ belacan (I used anchovy paste, but belacan is more traditional)
1tsp palm sugar
2tsp soya sauce
1tbsp sesame oil (for frying)

Ingredients for Coconut Rice:

2 mugfuls of rice, washed
1 can thick coconut milk
1.5 'cans' water (use your empty coconut milk can to measure)
Good pinch of salt
3 pandan leaves, knotted

Extras (to Serve):

Roasted peanuts
Deep fried ikan bilis (salted anchovies)
Boiled eggs
Cucumber slices


1) Fry the onion, garlic, galangal, ginger until soft on a low to medium heat with the cinnamon stick and curry powder.

2) Add the chicken and fry for about five minutes, then add the coconut milk, sugar and potatoes, and simmer until the sauce has reduced to your liking (about 40 minutes), stirring occasionally.

3) Cook the rice in a rice cooker – just add all the ingredients and switch it on. (Sorry, I'm a disaster when it comes to cooking rice in a pan!)

4) To make the sambal, whack all the ingredients into a blender apart from the oil and blend to a paste. Fry in the sesame oil on a low to medium heat for about five minutes, until fragrant.

5) Serve with your favourite sides.

*You might want to de-seed some or all of your chillies, depending on how hot you like it. I de-seeded half of them, but could have done with an extra 'seeded' chilli. It's up to you... and the chillies you use (which only Mother Nature controls...)

That's it! Well, I say that's it: it does take a bit of time and love to get everything together. But I promise you it's worth it.

Have fun!


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