Nasi Lemak Fragrant Coconut Milk Rice

If you have kept a foodblog for a while as I have, I am sure some of you will share this experience – I have horror moments every time I click on my old posts! Sometimes I feel like pinching myself for the unflattering food shots – or for wrong spellings – or simply inexcusable mistakes in recipes. The only thing I can do so I can sleep peacefully at night is to re-do (or attempt to) some of the posts. My mother was like “Again? You are going to cook that again and take the pictures again? But you did that before!” And this Nasi Lemak is one of those posts

If you have been raised in any of the following three countries (Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore), you will love Fragrant Coconut Milk Rice, also known as Nasi Lemak or Nasi Uduk. It is one of the most delicious rice dishes, amazingly easy to find on street/hawker stalls or traditional markets, and even spanking and shiny food courts in malls.

Nasi Lemak is cooked by using coconut milk, instead of water. The traditional method used in preparing Nasi Lemak is by boiling the coconut milk in advance, the rice is added and simmer till the rice grain enlarged from taking in all the coconut milk liquid. The last step is to steam the rice in a steamer until the rice is soft and fluffy. Different countries or regions will have different spices added into the rice, the most common are lemongrass, bay leaves, coriander seeds, cloves and galangal.

Nasi Lemak is served warm with sambal teri (anchovies and peanuts with chili), sambal belacan (chili dip with shrimp paste), sambal telur (chili egg) and some crackers. The hawker versions of Nasi lemak is a portion of rice with bits of everything, wrapped in banana leaves.

Families who reside in many regions in Southeast Asian have their own Nasi Lemak recipes. Our standard nasi lemak is prepared with sliced cucumbers, omelette, sambal belacan, fried anchovies and peanuts with crackers. I can just have the rice and sambal belacan. Seriously good. Another comfort food ..

Indonesian style nasi lemak


Fragrant Coconut Milk Rice, Nasi Lemak

Makes 6-8 servings


For fragrant rice
400 g medium grain rice
600 g coconut milk
1/2 tbsp salt
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only
4 kaffir lime leaves
6 bay leaves
30 g galangal, scrubbed skin clean

For condiments
4 eggs, cooked into thin omelette and sliced
Shrimp paste chili (sambal belacan), recipe here
Peanuts, deep-fried
Anchovies, deep-fried
Anchovies with peanuts (sambal teri kacang), recipe here
Cucumber, peeled and seeded, sliced thinly
Gnenom crackers (emping), fried, alternatively, prawn crackers can be used


Bruise galangal and lemongrass lightly using back of cleaver or pestle to release flavor

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook over high heat till boiling, about 15 minutes

Lower heat and cover. Cook for another 10 minutes. The grain should be sticky and puffy, all liquid should be entirely absorbed by now

Prepare a double-steamer pot. Fill the lower pot with water, 1/3 of the pot

Pour the rice into the top pot of the steamer. Steam for 20 minutes over medium heat covered

Turn off heat, fluff the rice with fork and cover. Leave for 10 minutes

Serve with other condiments

Pepy of Indonesia-Eats has posted tip on preparing Nasi Lemak using rice cooker. I have been dying to try!
The rule of thumb for rice and coconut milk is 1:1,3 in weight for slightly al-dente cooked rice. If you prefer nice soft and fluffy rice, the measurement should be 1:1,5.

How to cook Nasi Lemak

| More |

15 Responses to “Fragrant Coconut Milk Rice, Nasi Lemak”

  1. 1

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — October 10, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

    Woaa thanks for mentioning my name and linking my blog! This was my kind of breakfast and dinner when I was still student. In the morning, we had it with fritters and sambal peanut. In the evening, we had it with fried catfish and sambal (pecel lele).

    Love your props here!!!

    • Jun replied: — October 13th, 2010 @ 3:21 am

      I got all the props on my business trip to Central Java (Jogjakarta) a couple of months ago. It is really a city of props! You wouldn’t believe what I lugged all the way to Sumatra!

  2. 2

    noobcook — October 11, 2010 @ 4:05 am

    Your photos are so gorgeous and I love the props too. And your rice looks so fluffy. You’re so hardworking to retake the photos … I have many to retake but so far, haven’t got to doing even one T_T I cook my nasi lemak rice using rice cooker, sometimes I add 2-3 drops of pandan juice or paste to make the rice green.

    • Jun replied: — October 13th, 2010 @ 3:22 am

      Green nasi lemak? Nice! I bet it will make really nice picture!

  3. 3

    tigerfish — October 11, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

    I have too many unflattering food photos so my “retake” journey is long and almost impossible. Your presentation of Nasi Lemak is so alluring. I imagine I am in an exotic island eating that!

    • Jun replied: — October 13th, 2010 @ 3:23 am

      I am such a pain – I keep on complaining to people who would listen about the “ugly posts”. Haha

  4. 4

    tables — October 12, 2010 @ 6:05 am

    I like the bamboo thing there that was used as the rice’s container. That was cool. The photos are so great. So inspiring.

    • Jun replied: — October 13th, 2010 @ 3:25 am

      Thank you! Bamboo tableware are very common here in Indonesia, it is used in restaurants serving traditional food, lined with banana leaves. I would call them … organic disposable plates !

  5. 5

    Spicy Tempeh Chips — October 12, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    [...] it with steamed rice or coconut rice (recipe here) or as [...]

  6. 6

    Sambal Telur, Indonesian Chili Egg Recipe — October 21, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    [...] Lastly, fry the chili paste in oil till nicely cooked and fragrant, toss in the eggs and the sambal telur will be ready in a couple of minutes! Serve them with steamed rice or coconut rice (nasi lemak, recipe here) [...]

  7. 7

    Ronald SK Mitchell — November 21, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    Nasi Lemak enake sekali, degan sambel bajak dan sdikit trasi, ketumun atjar, ikan teri kering, dan lalab petee. Saja berjakap suda penu.

    Nasi Lemak is very taste, with hot chill with a bit of shrimp dried paste, cucumber vinaigrette salad, dried teri fish and dipping petee beans. Just speaking about I’m already full.

    GOD BLESS You & Kluarga Kamu (Your Family)


    • Jun replied: — November 22nd, 2010 @ 8:54 am

      You speak excellent Indonesian! Thank you for your nice comment. You must have a lot of Indonesian friends!

  8. 8

    Ronald SK Mitchell — December 22, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Masakan dan Makanan dari Jawa, Indonesia banjak bagus dan enak sekali. Saja mau makan ikan teri, tempeh goreng, sajur lordeh, nasi kuning dengan sambal trasi lomboc goreng. Kamu bisa bitjara bahasa?

    GOD BLESS You & Your Family…


  9. 9

    Ramass — April 14, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    Please I want to know what the Malisan Cuisine called the peanuts or the pickled peanut in therr langhug caus I had visit Malysia befour two years and the hotel thir in Kualalambor serv ed me at breakfast some of peanuts or pickled peanuts and it teast sooooooo so nice Inever taest like this ingrident whol my live please I just want to know its name in Malisian langhug and where I can find it

  10. 10

    ted — July 25, 2014 @ 8:42 am

    Love the stone bowls.
    Where can I get it in the US?
    Thank you.

Leave a Comment