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. There is a similar dish in Indonesia called
Left: Nasi Lemak is commonly found in
Singapore and Malaysia.
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.
Left: Nasi Lemak is traditionally sold
wrapped in banana leaves.
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
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.