When you cook rice in coconut milk and pandan leaves (and, optionally, lemongrass stalks), the result is nasi lemak. What you serve with the rice is up to you.
I cooked this on March 11. There’s a long story that goes with the plating and which you can read about by clicking here if you’re interested.
Now, about nasi lemak. It’s considered the national dish of Malaysia but here’s a bit of trivia for Filipino readers: Nasi lemak is popular in Mindanao especially during the Hariraya festivities. Not surprising, really, since Mindanao shares a lot of cultural similarities with our neighbors in the Malay Peninsula.
There’s nothing complicated about cooking nasi lemak. You just cook rice (I did it in the rice cooker) but, instead of water, you add coconut milk. You throw in a pinch of salt and pandan leaves — knotted, traditionally — turn on the cooker and wait until the coconut milk has been absorbed by the rice grains.
Of course, there are alternative ways to cook nasi lemak. Some cooks like to soak the rice overnight in coconut milk and then steam the drained rice in a special basket that goes on top of a pan of boiling water. But since I’ve never tried that technique, consider than as something I just mention in passing.
And, of course, there are endless ways to serve nasi lemak. There are “traditional” accompaniments but, today, as a popular street food, cooks are getting more creative with the combination of accompaniments to make their version stand out from the rest.
So, remember, it is the way the rice is cooked that makes nasi lemak what it is.
- Rice Cooker
- Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear. Strain well.
- Pour the rinsed rice into the rice cooker.
- Sprinkle in the salt.
- Pour in the coconut milk and stir once.
- Add the pandan leaves and turn on the cooker.
- The nasi lemak is done when the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.