On 31 January 2019, Google released a doodle featuring Nasi lemak to celebrate the iconic dish. Now you get the popularity? A dish of Malaysia, Nasi lemak is sold widely in hawker markets, restaurants and even at food vans in the country. It is an ambrosial mix of fragrant coconut rice, peanuts, sambal, fried anchovies (ikan bilis) along with sliced cucumber, boiled or fried egg, fried chicken wing and curry. The curry though, can either be made with chicken, fish, lamb, beef or vegetables. Sometimes a pickled vegetable salad is also included. All the elements of the dish are placed on a banana leaf. Here, we discuss 5 things about Nasi Lemak.

What Is Nasi Lemak?

Nasi lemak is not just famous in Malaysia. It is eaten in China, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia too. It is a breakfast dish everywhere. Traditionally though, it is believed that Nasi Lemak originated in Malaysia. Sometimes, it is also called Malaysia’s de facto national dish. However, a lot of historians also believe that the dish originated in Singapore. 

 Nasi means fat and lemak means rice. Fat rice may sound strange but the point is to convey that the rice has a creamy, heavy texture. Hence, the phrase fat rice. According to another story, nasi lemak got its name when it was created accidentally by a little girl named Seri who spilled coconut milk in a pot of rice. The mother asked Apa kau masak ni, Seri?” (What did you cook, Seri?) Seri replied: “Nasi le, Mak!” (Rice, mother!). Interesting, isn’t it?  

People often squeeze pandan juice from the leaf, and put it in the rice so that the rice has a delicious aroma and a green colour! Sometimes, the rice may take on an orange or red colour depending on what other ingredients go into it. The dish is then traditionally served along with the rest of the accompaniments on a banana leaf. 

Sambal: The Soul Of Nasi Lemak

Sambal is a very important condiment in nasi lemak, so it is important to make it nicely. The combination of sambal and coconut rice is delicious. Sambal is made with chillis, dried shrimp, lemongrass, onion, garlic and anchovies. People prefer the sambal to be balanced in flavour so that it does not overpower the main component - the coconut-based rice.


Other Ways To Savour Nasi Lemak

A lot of people have experimented with nasi lemak ice creams in Malaysia. That’s how popular this dish is. The coconut ice cream comes with fried anchovies, sambal and peanuts as toppings, too. Can’t put a fried egg in ice cream now, can we? Here they can. Our guess is that the ice cream will taste sweet and salty. The presentation looks really interesting.

Have you eaten nasi lemak? Is it your favourite Malay dish? Let us know!