Nasi Lemak: Fragrant Coconut Rice

Nasi lemak - fragrant coconut rice with boiled egg and quick carrot pickle

It’s starting to heat up in Sydney, we’re eating later and with the rising humidity it becomes increasingly difficult to decide what to eat let alone what to cook. When the heat is on, it’s time to go back to grain bowl basics. I’m not a huge fan of Malaysian food, but I love their version of the rice bowl nasi lemak. This fragrant coconut rice served with various sides is a popular breakfast food but it also makes a brilliant hot weather ‘anytime’ meal. Traditionally it’s served with a boiled egg ( I go with the eight minute egg), cucumber, peanuts, fried ikin bilis  and spicy hot sambal. While the egg, peanuts and cucumber are absolutely essential for me if you’re feeding kids you might want to give the super hot sambal a miss. You can extend the nasi lemak with various other sides – stir fried spinach, fried tofu or tempeh or this quick carrot pickle. Nasi lemak can be a simple or extravagant as your taste or the weather permits.

You can cook your rice using an absorption method but this recipe from Poh Ling Yeow, where the rice is soaked over night and then steamed over aromatics of pandan leaves, lemon grass, ginger and shallot gives the rice a wonderful chewy texture and keeps the rice grains nicely separated. If you want to use the absorption method and cut down on the sticky, glug factor just wash and drain the rice then saute the rice grains in some coconut oil before adding the coconut milk, water and other aromatics.

Poh’s nasi lemak

Adapted from Poh Ling Yeow – SBS Food

Serves 3-4

  • 500 grams of jasmine rice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 180mls coconut cream
  • 10 pandan leaves (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass , bashed with a pestle and tied in a knot
  • 1 red shallot peeled and sliced in half
  • 2x 5mm slices of fresh ginger bashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 180mls coconut cream


  • 1 continental cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 4 boiled eggs (cooked for eight minutes)
  • 3/4 cup of salted beer nuts
  • fried cubes of tofu
  • Stir fried greens
  1. Wash rice and soak in plenty of water overnight. Before cooking drain in a sieve for 10 minutes.
  2. Line bamboo or other steamer basket with pandan leaves. Scatter shallot, lemon grass stalks and ginger over pandan leaves.
  3. Mix drained rice with coconut cream, salt and sugar and spread rice over the aromatics.  Place steamer over boiling water and steam for 15- 30 minutes until rice is tender. If you are using a bamboo steamer place some foil over steamer basket to keep more of the moisture in. Arrange sides on serving plates, to allow everyone to serve themselves.



  1. We love cooking nasi lemak at home! We typically get some stir-fried greens and tempeh into the mix, with a drizzle of kecap manis. I should give pickles a go, too.

  2. Tempeh is good with anything!

  3. I love Nasi Lemak! One of my favourite dishes and I will definitely be rushing home to make a portion tonght! 😀

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