Apr 20, 2009
Nasi lemak is a dish sold in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore 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, cuttlefish, cockle, stir fried water convolvulus (kangkong), pickled vegetables (achar), beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices) or paru (beef lungs). Traditionally most of these accompaniments are spicy in nature.
Nasi Lemak is widely eaten in Malaysia, even as a dish served in Malaysian schools. Nasi lemak is a common breakfast dish, sold early in the morning at roadside stalls in Malaysia, where it is often sold packed in newspaper, brown paper or banana leaf. However, there are restaurants which serve it on a plate as noon or evening meals, making it possible for the dish to be eaten all day. Nasi lemak panas which means hot nasi lemak is another name given to nasi lemak served with hot cooked rice.