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Easy Malaysian Recipes - For New Cooks And Overseas Cooks - Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

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Nasi Lemak

Rice cooked in coconut cream/coconut milk

Pandan Leaves



2 cups of uncooked rice

3 pandan leaves (screwpine leaves)

1 cup of coconut milk

1 cup of water

a pinch of salt

Method Of Cooking

  1. Wash the rice in clean running water to remove any rice dust.
  2. Drain the rice and place it into the inner pot of a rice cooker.
  3. Add the cup of coconut milk and the salt.
  4. Gently stir the mixture and test the liquid. Add more salt if needed.
  5. Finally, tie the pandan leaves into a knot and place it into the rice pot.
  6. Set the rice cooker on cook and you are done!
  7. When the rice is done and the rice cooker switches to the Warm mode, gently mix the rice. Do not panic if it seems that the coconut cream is at the top. This is normal. When you mix the rice, it will be well distributed.
  • Do not mix your rice with any soft plastic cooking tool. It will melt in the heat and you will end up with rice that has plastic bits in it. This is what happened to a friend of mine. She used one of those plastic/rubberized gadgets used to scrape batter from a mixing bowl and it literally broke into little bits when she tried to mix her rice. Everything had to be thrown. A wooden spoon is the best. Metal spoons will scratch the inner pot and ruin its non-stick features.


  • If you cannot get fresh coconut milk, a packet or canned version can be used. For those who are abroad, check to see that the coconut cream does not contain sugar.
  • If you do not have pandan leaves, you can cook without it. Some folks have used pandan essence successfully but it is not the same as the real thing.
  • For best results, the rice is steamed. The reason for this being that the coconut milk in the rice can burn the bottom of the pot if cooked in the rice cooker. I actually cook my rice in the rice cooker. I find it faster, less messy and I do like the little brown bits at the bottom of the pots. It is tasty!
  • The amount of water used for cooking rice depends on the variety of rice itself. Rice grains that are starchier will require less water. Make the adjustments based on how you would cook normal rice. For me this 1:2 ratio works well.

Dried Anchovies


Sambal Ikan Bilis (Dried Anchovies In Chili Paste)


1 cup of dried anchovies

1 large onions cut into thick slices

12 dried chilies (soaked in hot water)

5 shallots (cut into small pieces)

3 pips of garlic (cut into small pieces)

1 cm of shrimp paste (belacan)

½ cup of tamarind juice





  1. Fry the anchovies in hot oil until it is golden brown.
  2. Drain the chilies and blend it with the shallots, garlic and belacan until you get a fine paste.
  3. Put two tablespoonsful of oil into your pan. When the oil is hot add the chili paste and gently fry it. Lower the heat of the fire so that you don’t burn the chili.
  4. Keep stirring the chili until you see some oil rising on the top of the paste. This indicates that the chili is cooked.
  5. Add in the tamarind juice, a little at a time and allow the mixture to cook.
  6. Add the fried anchovies, salt and sugar to taste.


  • You can replace the anchovies with any other protein. I love prawn sambal the best.
  • Just make sure you cut your protein into bite sized pieces, marinate it with a little salt and pepper and stir fry it. Somehow, stir-frying the protein first gives the sambal a better taste instead of cooking it directly in the sambal. The stir-frying process also prevents the protein from breaking up.
  • Some folks like to add the anchovies into the sambal before adding the tamarind juice. This is a matter of taste. I like my anchovies to have a little bite and hence, I add it last. If you like your anchovies to be softer add it before the tamarind juice and allow it to cook longer.

Anchovies Sambal


How To Serve


5 Full Boiled Eggs – cut into half

1 cucumber – remove skin and cut into slices

1 cup of roasted / fried peanuts

1 cup of fried anchovies

  1. Place a scoop of rice onto your plate.
  2. Top it with a spoonful of sambal.
  3. Add some slices of cucumber, a piece of half boiled egg, some peanuts and fried anchovies to your plate.
  4. You are done. If you like it a little heavier, you could add a piece of fried chicken to your meal.

Another version of cooking nasi lemak


  • This is an easy meal that new cooks can cook for their families. Since it is a complete meal, you do not have to prepare many other dishes to go with it.
  • For those overseas especially students, this is a perfect comfort food, and if it is cold where you are, it will definitely warm you up. I know students who have used a rice cooker as a pan in which to cook their sambal first and than cook the rice. Read the instructions on your rice cooker to see if this is possible.

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