Nasi lemak is a number one staple breakfast in Kuala Lumpur. It is a rice dish cooked with coconut milk and screw pine leaves served with anchovies sambal, fried anchovies, fried peanuts, a boiled egg and slices of cucumber wrapped in a banana leaf.
Nasi lemak is the type of food people bring to the school or to work. It is a hearty meal and easy to be brought anywhere.
The classic nasi lemak comes with the fragrant rice that is cooked with the coconut milk and screw pine leaves. You can’t taste the richness of the coconut milk with every bite. The anchovies sambal give the sweet and spicy taste to the dish. One cannot simply eat the nasi lemak without the sambal. The fried anchovies give the salty taste, the fried peanuts give the sweet taste and the cucumber slices added the freshness into it.
As for the side dish, instead of boiled eggs, some people prefer to add in the sunny side eggs or omelet. Some people also like to pair the nasi lemak with other dishes like beef or chicken rendang, chicken sambal, squid sambal, beef lung sambal or cockle sambal.
Image by: Charles Haynes
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It's only coconut milk-infused rice (with a tinge of pandan), cucumber slices, hard boiled egg, ikan bilis (fried anchovies), roasted nuts and most important of all, sambal. (Get that one wrong and everything is ruined. Yes? Yes.)
I slowly unwrapped the brown paper, becoming giddy with excitement, like a child on Christmas day, hoping to unveil a much desired “gift.”But, to my dismay there was yet another layer, which exposed a banana leaf. I proceeded to unwrap the banana leaf a little wary of what the next layer would uncover. Finally, after the second layer and with much anticipation the contents were finally revealed to me, “Nasi Lemak”
Coconut rice, chili on the side, slivers of anchovy, nuts, and a boiled egg: meet Malaysia’s national dish, the nasi lemak. A simple everyday meal gracing the dinner table of Malaysians all across the country.
Sarah Anne Lee