A basic nasi lemak is a traditional Malay breakfast. Conventionally, the broken kernels of white rice are cooked in coconut milk and flavoured with pandan, or screwpine leaves and served with a spoonful or two of spicy sambal, fried anchovies and peanuts, half a boiled egg and a few slices of cucumber. However, these days it is made from regular or fragrant jasmine rice and is eaten any time of the day, complemented with anything from rendang, fried chicken, gulai prawns, squid sambal, kangkung (a.k.a water morning glory) belacan and various vegetables.
I’ll be jotting down the signature basic nasi lemak recipe here.
2 cups of rice (serves 4)
2 cups of water
1 cup of coconut milk
Pinch of salt
2-3 pandan leaves, knotted. Alternately, you can use 1 tsp of pandan flavouring.
1 cup of dried chillies, soaked and blended until smooth to form a paste with as little water as possible.
5-6 garlic cloves
2 cm ginger slice
1½ teaspoon belacan paste or powder. Alternately, you can use the same amount of dried shrimps.
1 lemon grass stalk
½ cup of dried anchovies, cleaned
1 tbsp white or palm sugar
2 hardboiled eggs
100g dried anchovies, cleaned and fried until crispy
100g peanuts (salted ones from a packet would do if you don’t want to fry or roast your own)
1 cucumber, sliced
Wash the rice 2-3 times and drain. I prefer to cook it in a rice cooker with the water, coconut milk, seasonings and flavourings, but you can also cook it on the hob.
Blend half an onion, garlic and ginger with the chillies. Cook the paste that forms in four tablespoons of oil in medium heat. This might induce some splattering, so a spatter guard might come in handy at this point.
You’ll find that the paste needs to be cooked for about eight minutes before it is drier and darker in colour. Slice the remaining half of the onion and add it to the paste, along with a chrushed lemon grass, belacan, and after a minute, the anchovies too. Add a cup of water and allow to simmer for ten minutes.
Season the sambal with some salt, lime juice and sugar. Remove from heat when you’re happy with the consistency of the sambal. I try to make mine a medium consistency- somewhere between runny and stodgy.
A normal serving would consist of a portion of rice, a few spoonfuls of sambal, ½ boiled egg, some anchovies, peanuts and 3-4 cucumber slices. Enjoy!
Nasi lemak with fried chicken and egg