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Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice with Dried Anchovy Sambal)

Course Main Dish
Cuisine Malaysian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author International Cuisine


  • For the steamed coconut milk rice:
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 3 pandan leaves tied into a knot
  • salt to taste
  • 1 small can of coconut milk 5.6 oz
  • some water
  • For the Tamarind Juice:
  • 1 cup of water
  • tamarind pulp about 3 Tablespoons
  • For the Sambal Ikan Bilis:
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 cup dried anchovies Ikan bilis
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 shallots
  • 10 dried chili or adjust to your heat tolerance
  • 1 teaspoon belecan prawn paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Sides:
  • 2 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • 8 small fish smelt or sardines
  • 1 cucumber peeled and sliced
  • roasted peanuts
  • some more fried anchovies
  • banana leaf for serving


  • To make the rice, rinse and drain it. Add the coconut milk, a pinch of salt, and some water.
  • Add in the pandan leaves tied in a knot into the rice and cook until tender.
  • For the sambal:
  • Rinse the dried anchovies and drain the water. Pat dry and fry them until then turn golden brown and set aside.
  • With a mortar and pestle pound the prawn paste together with the shallots, garlic and seeded dried chilies.
  • Slice the red onion into rings
  • Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the pulp constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice
  • Heat some oil in a skillet and fry the paste from the mortar until fragrant
  • Add in the red onion rings
  • Add in the fried anchovies and stir well.
  • Add in the tamarind juice, salt and sugar
  • Simmer on low heat until the sambal thickens. Set aside
  • Clean the small fish, cut them in half and season with salt. Deep fry
  • On a banana leaf, serve the steamed coconut rice and pour some of the sambal over the rice.
  • Serve with fried fish, cucumber slices, hard-boiled eggs, peanuts and more fried anchovies.
  • Enjoy Malaysia's national dish!