Coconut Rice – Nasi Lemak

(Last Updated On: October 20, 2019)

Coconut RiceNasi Lemak, or coconut rice, is a Malaysian side dish served throughout the day. Nasi Lemak is so popular that it is considered the country’s national dish.

The rice is lightly flavored with ginger, coconut milk and pandan leaves. Pandan leaves are very common in Malaysian cooking and add a light floral note to the dish. You can find them in Asian markets, either fresh or frozen. But if you can’t find them just omit them from the recipe.

It is often served with sliced cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg, and fried anchovies, roasted peanuts and spicy Sambal Sauce (available in the Asian Food Section in most markets). Simple Sambal Sauces can be very basic, made with just hot chile peppers, vinegar and salt.Nasi Lemak Recipe

More complex versions of Sambal Sauce have other ingredients such as garlic, shrimp paste, and lemongrass. The simple version is fine for the purposes of this recipe.

This rice dish goes well with other Malaysian dishes, such as Spicy Prawn Sambal, Chicken Rendang or Ayam Masak Merah. Also, give it a try with other coconut milk based curries, such as Massaman.

Yields 4 servings


1 Cup Long Grain Rice

1 Cup Water

1 1/2 Cups Coconut Milk

1 Pandan Leaf (available in Asian Markets) Omit if unable to find

2 Slices Fresh Ginger

Roasted Peanuts, Fried Anchovies, Cucumber Slices, Hard Boiled Eggs, Sambal Sauce, as accompaniments.

Salt to Taste


Add the water, coconut milk, rice and ginger to a sauce pan over and bring the pan to a boil. Tie the pandan leaf into a knot and add it the pan.

pandan leaf

Reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Continue to cook until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is cooked through (approximately 20 minutes).

For traditional Malaysian Nasi Lemak, garnish with hard boiled eggs, fried anchovies and roasted peanuts. No Nasi Lemak would be complete, however, without some spicy Sambal Sauce on the side.

Note: Coconut Rice can also be made in an Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

Additional Malaysian recipes you might enjoy

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Malaysian Coconut Rice

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