Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Authentic Breakfast Recipe)

5.0 from 1 vote

Rice cooked with coconut milk and Sambal chili on the side with crispy fried anchovies, roasted red skinned peanuts and boiled egg halves.  It is the breakfast of kings and the most delicious of dishes – The beloved Malaysian Nasi Lemak.

All Malaysians, tourists and Expats who have the luck to call Malaysia home adore this delicious and nutritious meal.  It also has a history which is nearly as humble as its simple ingredients.

A Brief History Of Malaysian Nasi Lemak.

Malaysian Nasi Lemak began as a farmer’s meal.  A pre-prepared, pre-packaged and filling dish was required for those long days in the fields.

The rice provided carbohydrates, the peanuts, coconut, egg and anchovies added protein and essential oils with cucumber adding hydration.  This provided workers with a near complete balanced diet.  It was easy to make.  It was easy to transport wrapped in simple Banana Leaf.

This dish is adored because of its simple and local individual ingredients.

Steamed Santan Rice

Plain white rice steamed with coconut milk is the essential component.

Coconut milk, or santan, provides the “lemak” of the dish hence the creaminess or richness. Often, cooks tend to add a little something extra to personalize the flavor of the rice.  Garlic, ginger, lemongrass, or shallots are some of the additional flavors.

Pandan is one ingredient that is essential in the preparation of Nasi Lemak.  Therefore it is required to achieve the taste of the Malaysian Nasi Lemak.

Spicy And Sweet Sambal

Liberally added to each plate is the Sambal.  The sambal, spicy and sweet, is always as unique as its creator.

Malaysians have a fondness for spices.  This is due to their multicultural Asian heritage.

More signature-worthy than the rice, this sambal, a crucial element to the Malaysian Nasi Lemak can range from a complementary sweetness to significant spiciness.

The chili oils provide taste and therefore are a great flavor mix for the rice.  The red amber glow of the oils mixed with the rice promises a taste sensation.

Fried Ikan Bilis, Peanuts, Cucumber and Boiled Egg

These small side dish ingredients help to transform the Nasi Lemak package into a nutritionally balanced meal.

Therefore the anchovies and egg are essential to the dish.

Sold everywhere the Nasi Lemak is never far away.  From the little roadside stalls found everywhere across Malaysia to the exclusive five-star restaurants that provide expansive buffets and east meets west fusion foods.

The side dishes may vary, but the best add-ons include rendang, a spicy savory curry usually made with beef; fried chicken spiced and herbed specially; and veggie assortments of spinach or kangkung (water spinach).

Whatever your preferred taste, as a result, the Malaysian Nasi Lemak is sure to impress with its understated flavors and humble charm.

Malaysian Nasi Lemak Recipe

Malaysian Nasi Lemak

5.0 from 1 vote
Recipe by HolisticJB Course: Breakfast, Hot Stuff, MainsCuisine: Malaysian


Prep time


Cooking time




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Rice cooked with coconut milk and Sambal chili on the side with crispy fried anchovies, roasted red skinned peanuts and boiled egg halves. It is the breakfast of kings and the most delicious of dishes – The beloved Malaysian Nasi Lemak.rnrnAll Malaysians, tourists and Expats who have the luck to call Malaysia home adore this delicious and nutritious meal. It also has a history which is nearly as humble as its simple ingredients.

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  • Coconut Rice
  • 3 cup basmati rice

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 inch ginger root fresh

  • 2 pandan leaves

  • 3 cup coconut milk

  • 1 1/2 cup water

  • Fried Peanuts And Anchovies
  • 200 ml canola oil

  • 1 cup raw peanuts

  • 1 1/2 cup dried anchovies

  • Anchovy Sambal
  • 6 tbsp sambal ulek

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 inch ginger root fresh

  • 4 shallots

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 6 tbsp oil

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1/2 white onion

  • 3 tbsp tamarind water

  • Garnish
  • 6 banana leaves

  • 1/2 cucumber small

  • 6 eggs hard boiled


  • For The Coconut Rice
  • Wash the [wprm-ingredient text=”3 cup basmati rice” uid=”1″], it will become cloudy so drain the water and repeat the process until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a large saucepan and add the [wprm-ingredient text=”1 tbsp salt” uid=”2″], [wprm-ingredient text=”4 cloves garlic” uid=”3″], [wprm-ingredient text=”1 inch ginger root” uid=”4″], [wprm-ingredient text=”2 pandan leaves” uid=”5″] (tied in a knot), [wprm-ingredient text=”3 cup coconut milk” uid=”6″], and [wprm-ingredient text=”1 1/2 cup water” uid=”7″]. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer, uncovered, until steam holes appear in the rice and the surface looks dry – about 10 minutes. [timer minutes=10]10 Minutes[/timer] Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook, without stirring, until all the coconut milk is absorbed and the grains are tender and fluffy – about 20 minutes more. [timer minutes=20]20 minutes[/timer]When the rice is done, discard the garlic, ginger, and pandan leaves and stir the rice.
  • For The Anchovies And Peanuts
  • Heat the [wprm-ingredient text=”200 ml canola oil” uid=”9″] in a wok or saucepan over medium-low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the [wprm-ingredient text=”1 cup raw peanuts” uid=”10″] and cook until they turn brown – about 5 minutes. [timer minutes=5]5 minutes[/timer] Transfer the peanuts with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Reheat the oil to shimmer point. Carefully add the [wprm-ingredient text=”1 1/2 cup dried anchovies” uid=”11″] and fry until golden brown and crispy – about 7 minutes. [timer minutes=7]7 minutes [/timer]Transfer the anchovies to a paper towel. Discard the oil. Set aside half of the anchovies to serve with rice and use the other half for the Sambal.
  • For The Anchovy Sambal
  • Blend the [wprm-ingredient text=”6 tbsp sambal ulek” uid=”13″], [wprm-ingredient text=”4 cloves garlic” uid=”14″], [wprm-ingredient text=”1 inch ginger root” uid=”15″], [wprm-ingredient text=”4 shallots” uid=”16″], and [wprm-ingredient text=”1/4 cup water” uid=”17″] in a blender to a smooth paste. Heat the [wprm-ingredient text=”6 tbsp oil” uid=”18″] in a wok over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sambal paste, [wprm-ingredient text=”1 tsp salt” uid=”19″], and [wprm-ingredient text=”1 tsp sugar” uid=”20″] and stir-fry until fragrant and the oils separate onto the surface – about 10 minutes. [timer minutes=10]10 mins[/timer]Add the [wprm-ingredient text=”1/2 white onion” uid=”21″] and cook until the onion is soft – about 5 minutes. [timer minutes=5]5 mins[/timer]Add the [wprm-ingredient text=”3 tbsp tamarind water” uid=”22″] and remaining [wprm-ingredient text=”1/2 cup water” uid=”27″] and mix well to combine with the paste. Add half the crispy anchovies and allow to cook for 5 minutes. [timer minutes=5]5 mins[/timer]Taste the sambal and add more sugar or salt if needed; you want a balanced sweet-salty taste. Turn off the heat.
  • To Serve Nasi Lemak
  • Line each diner’s plate with one of the [wprm-ingredient text=”6 banana leaves” uid=”24″]. Place 1 cup of the cooked coconut rice in the middle of the leaf. Press the rice into a small bowl or cup first and then invert it onto the plate for a neat domed shape. Put about 3 tablespoons of the Anchovy Sambal on top of the rice. Place a few slices of [wprm-ingredient text=”1/2 cucumber” uid=”25″], 2 halves of the [wprm-ingredient text=”6 eggs” uid=”26″] and 1 tablespoon each of the peanuts and fried anchovies around the rice. Serve warm


  • The absolute star dish and a must have meal on every trip to Malaysia. Nothing compares to Nasi Lemak! It is the breakfast of champions!

Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size: 1g
  • Calories: 760kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 53g
  • Protein: 29g
  • Fat: 47g

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After living in Malaysia and Brunei, and travelling throughout South East Asia, I fell in love with the countries, the people and the amazing cuisine. Now I want to share that passion through the recipes that deliver Hawker Style, authentic flavors of Asia.

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