Nasi Lemak

by - 7:23 AM

Nasi Lemak is a traditional dish in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, consisting of rice cooked in coconut milk and served with a variety of accompaniments such as anchovies, peanuts, hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices, and a spicy sauce. It is considered one of the most popular dishes in Malaysia and is often consumed for breakfast or lunch. The dish is usually wrapped in banana leaves to enhance the flavour of the rice.

The Singaporean version of Nasi Lemak is generally similar to the traditional Malaysian dish, however, it may have some regional variations. In Singapore, Nasi Lemak is often made with fragrant pandan leaves added to the rice, giving it a distinct aroma and flavour. Additionally, the spiciness level of the dish can vary, and some Singaporean versions may include additional ingredients such as fried chicken or squid. The dish is also a staple in Singaporean cuisine and is widely available at hawker centers and food courts. Despite these regional differences, the core components of Nasi Lemak remain the same and it continues to be a beloved dish in both Malaysia and Singapore.


  • 2 cups of jasmine rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot (optional)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 dried anchovies, cleaned and soaked
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 red chillies, sliced
  • 1 cup of roasted peanuts
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cucumber slices, cut into thin rounds
  • Sambal sauce, to serve


  1. Rinse the rice and put it in a large saucepan along with the water and pandan leaves.
  2. Add in the coconut milk and a pinch of salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid.
  4. Cook the rice for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  5. While the rice is cooking, prepare the anchovies. In a pan, heat some oil and sauté the shallots, garlic, and red chillies until fragrant.
  6. Add in the anchovies and continue cooking until they are crispy. Set aside.
  7. Once the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and transfer it to a serving platter.
  8. Serve the rice with the anchovies, peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, cucumber slices, and sambal sauce.

Enjoy your Nasi Lemak!

Can't believe I still haven't taken a proper food photo of Nasi Lemak.

In this episode, we make an unusual version of nasi lemak using a recipe from 1953. The recipe comes from a book by Siti Radhiah, a Malay cookbook author who was also the wife of writer Harun Aminurrashid. Is it really nasi lemak if it doesn’t use pandan? Join librarian and food researcher Toffa Abdul Wahed as she makes this unique nasi lemak and two side dishes!

This video is part of "From Book to Cook", a brand new cooking show on Singapore’s old recipes found in the National Library collection. In every episode, our librarian-host Paddy Ong and a guest cook will make a dish or two from a vintage recipe. What happens when you put a librarian in the kitchen, armed with traditional kitchen tools and recipes from the past? Catch the series to find out!
Like this video? Watch out for more in the Singapore Storyteller series, where we tell stories of Singapore, about the people who lived, the food we love, and the way things were. From our collections come your stories. #SGStoryTellers

00:00 – Teaser
00:07 – Opening titles
00:16 – Episode introduction
00:38 – Guest introduction
01:25 – Siti Radhiah, the author of Memilih Selera
03:07 – Why she wrote these cookbooks
03:53 – Publishing in Jawi
04:41 – How Siti Radiah’s nasi lemak recipe is unique
07:02 – Recipe and ingredients
07:40 – Let’s cook: Aromatics for nasi lemak
08:04 – Extracting the coconut cream and steaming the rice
10:43 – Using the grinding stone and cooking opor ayam
13:06 – Making sambal goreng
17:35 – Let’s eat
18:01 – What makes a dish nasi lemak
20:26 – Closing

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