Possibly the greatest invention in Malaysian cuisine is the nasi lemak. Loosely translated as 'rice with coconut cream', this dish can be found almost everywhere in Malaysia — at a stall on the street to a luxury hotel's restaurant. The Nasi Lemak is Malaysia's version of the English big breakfast. While the anglophile breakfast may have streaky bacon, eggs, tomatoes, baked beans, fried mushrooms, toast and sausages, the nasi lemak in its original form will seem Spartan with just cononut flavoured rice, anchovy sambal paste, a section of hard boiled or fried egg, a pinch of roasted peanuts, a few pieces of fried anchovies, and a few slices of cucumber. But a good plate of the aromatic nasi lemak will perk up your senses and give you the boost of energy for the day! As the American's might put it, nasi lemak is the breakfast of champions for Malaysians!
The ingredients and the cooking process involved in creating this tasty meal is simple. Nasi lemak is rice boiled or steamed in fresh coconut milk with some salt. Screwpine leaves or pandan leaves are added into the cooking pot to give the rice its signature fragrance. Sambal paste is made from a reduction of tamarind sauce, chilli paste, anchovies, garlic and onions. Sun dried anchovies are fried to crispy crunch and peanuts are roasted to golden brown with the skin intact.
Nasi lemak can be eaten hot or cold hence its ubiquity at any street side stalls throughout the day. The best way to serve this dish is wrapped in or served on a banana leaf, as it adds a new dimension to the aromatic fragrance of the rice. As you unravel the freshly packed pyramid shaped package, the steam from coconut milk rice escapes and assaults your olfactory senses with the most heavenly aroma on earth.
Nasi lemak becomes a hearty meal when complemented with sides of cuttlefish sambal, fried chicken, cockle sambal, stir fried water convolvulus (kangkong), pickled vegetables (achar), or chicken or beef rendang (meat stewed in coconut milk and spices). Just the thought of this stirs my appetite for a freshly made nasi lemak.
One of my favourite places for Nasi Lemak in the evening is located in Robson Heights, just off the Federal Highway in Kuala Lumpur. It isn't difficult find as it's a stall that's frequented by many locals so you will find a queue throughout its operating hours from three in the afternoon until past midnight or when they have sold out which is pretty much every night.
Add: Nasi Lemak Daun Pisang Robson Heights,
Lorong Syed Putra Kiri
Off Federal Highway,
Open from 3pm — 2am
The authors of this post are C&C and they also write for their website CCFoodTravel.com