Nasi Tomato (or Tomato Rice) is a flavorful Malaysian side dish. But with the complex mix of sweet and tart tastes in this dish, it can easily be served on its own.
It is typically served with Ayam Masak Merah (which is a lightly spicy chicken dish simmered in a sauce with tomatoes). The combination is so rich and flavorful that it is often served at weddings.
We became fans of Malaysian food during our first trip to Penang. There we were introduced to some dishes that have since become our favorite, such as Laksa (Coconut Curry Noodle Soup) and Chicken Rendang, a dish made with toasted coconut paste.
Chicken Rendang is often paired with Nasi Lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk), which is considered Malaysia’s national dish.
The flavors in Malaysian cooking are often complex combinations of fresh curry pastes paired with pungent ingredients such as shrimp paste and spicy chili peppers, such as with another popular dish, Shrimp Sambal.
If you find you enjoy Nasi tomato, I invite you to give some of the other dishes a try. Once tasted, it is easy to see why Malaysian dishes are considered by many as some of the most flavorful cuisine in the world.
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In this version, I’ve made the recipe for Nasi Tomato a little simpler by using a ground spice mix (Chinese 5-Spice) instead of whole star anise, cinnamon, clove and cardamon, which are a very common combination in Malay cooking. Chinese 5-Spice also has a small amount of fennel seed, another common spice used to make curries.
Another substitution in this recipe is the use of coconut milk rather than whole milk. The flavor of the coconut milk adds a little nutty flavor and rich creamy texture that, in my opinion, elevates the dish.
Planning a trip to Malaysia or neighboring Singapore? Here are a few related articles that may help plan or inspire a visit.
- 2 Cups or 400 g Basmati Rice
- 3 Tablespoons or 45 ml Vegetable Oil (not olive)
- 3 Teaspoons or 7.8 g Teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice
- 1 Tablespoon (1" or 2.5 cm knob) Fresh Ginger (Finely Minced)
- 4 Cloves Garlic (Finely Minced)
- 4 Shallots (Finely Minced)
- 1 Cup or 300 ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 1/2 Cup or 150 ml Water
- 1 1/2 Cups or 300 g Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Cup or 250 ml Coconut Milk
- 2 Teaspoons or 4 g Sugar
- Salt to Taste
Rinse the rice in lukewarm water in order to remove the starch.
Repeat until the water is clear (about 3 times).
Allow the rice to sit covered in lukewarm water for 30 minutes.
Heat a sauce pan over medium heat with the oil. Add the Chinese 5 spice and stir for about 1 minute until it becomes aromatic.
Add the minced garlic, shallot and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes (until they become golden brown).
Add the rice to the pan and thoroughly combine. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the stock, coconut milk, water and sugar.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cover the pot and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the rice from the heat and allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff with a fork.
Salt to Taste
Note: The fresh ginger, shallots and garlic can be minced using a good processor.