Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice) All Day Breakfast?

When I was a child growing up in Singapore, nasi lemak was a common breakfast food sold early in the morning at roadside stalls or peddled on a bicycle by the hawker from place to place accompanied by the repetitive call of “nasi lemak nasi lemak” echoing through the morning air.

Nasi Lemak is a Malay word that literally means 'rice in cream'. The name is derived from the cooking process whereby rice is soaked in coconut milk and then the mixture steamed. Traditionally it is wrapped in banana leaves, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies(ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and hot spicy sauce (sambal) and normally served and sold cold. However, nowadays, there are many eating places which serve it as noon or evening meals, making it possible for the dish to be eaten throughout the day. Nasi lemak panas which means hot nasi lemak is another name given to nasi lemak served with hot cooked rice on a plate with a variety of other accompaniments such as chicken, pickled vegetables (achar), beef rendang (beef stewed in coconut milk and spices). Whereas the cold breakfast meal is now often sold packed in newspaper or brown paper laminated in plastic film instead of the traditional banana leaves wrapped parcel.

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice)


3 cups long grain rice
1pc. Lemon grass (bruised)
1tsp turmeric powder (colouring)
2pcs Pandan leaves (optional)
4cups coconut milk

Wash rice until water runs clear and drain. Add the rice and 3 cups coconut milk together with lemon grass and other ingredients to a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and bring to boil over medium high heat. Immediately decrease the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the coconut milk, occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the grains. Sprinkle the rest of the coconut milk over the rice and stir and distribute well with wooden spoon. Cover and decrease the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes more. Decrease the heat to very low and let rest for 15 minutes until ready to serve with other condiments.


  1. *mega drool*
    Phil, I don't know if you have noticed, from the early 90s (in Singapore), there are more Chinese hawkers selling nasi lemak, and their version has evolved to be like "chup chai pern" (mixed veg rice). One can have the coconut milk rice, and then select their own choice of "side dishes". Very similar to the "nasi lemak penas", but the acompaninents are more "Chinese".

    To facilitate easier and quicker turnaround, the hawkers would have a "Set" where the "nasi lemak" would consist of the rice, ikan bilis, a deep-fried chicken wing and a sunny-side up egg.

    Other basic variants include a slice of luncheon meat, fish cake (teochew) or otak-otak.

  2. Hi HW,
    The "Mei Ling" luncheon meat was a favourite food during my Victoria School days when the school was in Jalan Besar. I have stopped eating them since.

  3. interesting.. but where is the recipie for the chilli!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I love nasi lemak and can eat it any time of the day.

  5. in the good old days, nasi lemak cost 10cts or 20 cts a pack. these days, it is between $1.20 and $2.00 or even more. at adam road food centre, there are two stalls popular for their nasi lemak. one plate of nasi lemak with egg and fried chicken wing costs around $3.00. changi nasi lemak at changi village food centre always has a long queue of customers.
    at clayton, one of the suburbs of melbourne, i used to eat nasi lemak at this place called 'taste of s'pore'. now i don't patronise the eatery because the original owner has gone to dubai.

  6. Hi yg,
    Thanks for your visit and comment. Most of all for allowing me to include you in my list of newfound Sg friends. Have a pleasant trip home.

  7. Hey thanks for the rice recipe. I was looking to cook nasi lemak