About: Angie Liew (known as Huang) is the founder and author of Huang Kitchen. Being a self taught chef, she focuses on improving cooking recipes, documenting and creating step-by-step how to guides. Her recipes span…

Nasi lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and screw pine leaves. It is commonly found in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It is one of the most popular dish for the Malay-type breakfast and is a great party dish.

A truly remarkable Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice) is not to be taken lightly. It constitutes of good quality rice cooked in rich and creamy coconut milk with screw pine leaves infused during the cooking process to create the best flavours and texture. Hence much effort is required to prepare this legendary dish. It is always served with a good chili sauce (sambal) alongside other condiments.


{Coconut Milk Rice}

1 kg rice, preferably basmati rice

6 cups water

200 ml Thick coconut milk (1 coconut)

3 pandan leaves/screwpine leaves, knotted and slightly bruised

2 stick lemongrass, bruised

1 ginger, crushed

1 tsp sugar, to taste

2 tsp salt, to taste

{Chilli Anchovies}

3 cups dried anchovies

1 cup oil

3 cloves garlic

12 shallots

30 dried chillies

3 tsp prawn paste

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

3 red onions, cut into rings/strips

1 tamarind pulp, (3 ping pong size)

3 cups water (soaked tamarind pulp)

{Other Condiments}

6 eggs, hard boiled and cut into halves

1 cucumber, cut into slices

2 cups peanuts

See The Original Recipe On My Website

Step 1: Start by Preparing the Coconut Milk Rice.

First rinse the rice under cold, running water for a few minutes and drained. The water does not need to run perfectly clear but rinsing helps get rid of starch that can make the rice sticky. Then place the drained rice in a rice cooker.

Coconut Rice:

The rice must be good. Any types of rice can be used but use a good quality rice. Basmati rice is perfect for this coconut milk rice.

Step 2: Prepare the Coconut Milk to Cook the Rice.

Pour 50ml or 1/4 of the thick coconut milk (200ml / from 1 coconut) into a measuring cup. Then dilute with some water.

Do not add in all the coconut milk right at the start as the oil in the coconut cream will prevent the rice from cooking properly.

Add in salt and sugar and stir to mix. Do not add salt and sugar after rice is cooked as this will cause the rice to be overly salty.

Coconut Milk:

Use thick coconut milk. This milky white liquid is obtained after adding water to freshly grated coconut and giving it a good squeeze or press. The thickness or creaminess of coconut milk is determined by the amount of water added. This squeezed coconut cream can also be store bought.

Step 3: Add Water and Watery Coconut Milk Into Rice.

Pour the coconut milk mixture into the drained rice in the rice cooker.

Add in additional water to make sure the volume of the watery coconut milk is the same as the rice in volume. (Altogether about 6 cups).

Lastly add in crushed ginger, lemongrass and screw pine leaves .The crushed ginger, lemongrass and screw pine leaves impart flavour and make the cooked coconut milk rice incredibly aromatic.

Ratio of rice:water is 1:1.1

Step 4: Begin to Cook the Rice.

Switch on the rice cooker and cook the rice.


You can also choose to use the traditional way of steaming the rice in a steamer instead of using the rice cooker.

Step 5: Continue to Cook the Rice.

When the rice reaches warming stage, add the balance (150ml) of the thick coconut milk and stir the rice.

Close the lid pot and continue cooking until done. Fluff up the rice and serve it hot. And we're done!


The coconut milk rice should be served hot so always warm up the rice before serving.

Step 6: Prepare to Cook the Chilli Anchovies (sambal Ikan Bills).

The next thing to do well is the chilli anchovies sauce. Have ready all the ingredients needed.

Dried Chillies:

Use the wrinkled long variety which is less spicy compared to the smoother shorter ones. Soak the dried chillies in hot water. When soft, snip into two and de-seed with a pair of scissors. Blend into chilli paste.

Shallots and Garlic:

Use fresh varieties. Peel shallots and garlic. Blend coarsely.

Dried Shrimp paste:

A key ingredient in many classic chilli dishes. It's usually in the form of a small pressed cake. Not overly fishy, a tiny amount of this paste makes a flavourful base and adding an intriguing taste for the chilli sauce.

Tamarind Pulp:

A prominent souring agent. Soak in water to extract the juice.

Large Onions:

Choose the big and firm variety.

Dried Anchovies:

Choose the medium-sized dried anchovies. Be sure to remove the head and insides of the anchovies before frying.


Adjust the taste of the chilli anchovies with salt and sugar.


This is not a dipping sauce. As it is to be eaten with the coconut milk rice in bigger portions, it should not be too chilli-intense. It should also be sweeter, adding a contrast to the savoury coconut milk rice. A GOOD coconut milk rice chilli sauce should be sweet with some salty and sour undertones.

Step 7: Blend the Chillies, Shallots and Garlic.

Start by blending soaked and deseeded dried chillies to chilli paste.

Also blend coarsely the peeled shallots and garlic.

Step 8: Prepare Tamarind Juice.

Next, soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes.

Squeeze the tamarind to extract the flavour into the water.

Using a strainer, drain the pulp and keep the tamarind juice.

Step 9: Deep Fry the Dried Anchovies.

First rinse the dried anchovies in cold water and leave to dry thoroughly.

Heat some oil in wok until almost smoking and fry the anchovies over low heat until they turn light brown and crisps. Strain and set aside.


Remove the head and insides of dried anchovies. Otherwise it will taste bitter.

Step 10: Cut the Big Onions.

Slice the onions into semi-thick rings. The bigger and firmer the onion, the easier it will be to cut.

And we're ready to fry the chilli anchovies sauce (sambal ikan bilis).

Step 11: Cook the Chilli Anchovies Sauce.

To fry the chilli anchovies sauce, first heat up some oil in wok.

Add in the prawn paste and fry until it releases its flavour.

Next, add in the coarsely blended shallots and garlic and fry over low heat for 10 minutes. This releases the sugar in the shallots and also removes the sulphuric fumes.

Then add the chilli paste and continue to fry for about 15 minutes until oil separates.

Step 12: Add in Large Onions and Fried Anchovies.

Add in the onion slices and fry fro another 5 minutes. This adds texture to the chilli sauce (sambal).

Then stir in a portion of the fried anchovies. Reserve the other portion as a condiment to serve with the coconut milk rice.

Step 13: Add Tamarind Juice.

Tamarind juice added gives the chilli anchovies sauce a distinct sour taste with a unique briskness that isn't possessed by any other ingredients.


If tamarind paste or pulp is not available, you may substitute with vinegar or lime juice.

Step 14: Add Seasonings and Adjust to Taste.

Next, season with salt and sugar. Simmer over low heat until gravy thickens and we're done!

Set aside to be served at room temperature alongside the steamed coconut milk rice.

Next, prepare the other condiments.


The fried dried anchovies and shrimp paste will add saltiness to the chilli sauce so be careful not to add too much salt.

Palm sugar can also be added instead of sugar.

Step 15: Fry Raw Peanuts.

Rinse the raw peanuts and drain the water. Heat a clean wok until it begins to smoke. Put raw peanuts (and salt/ optional) in to fry. Lower the heat and stir fry constantly for 5 minutes. Add in a drop or two of vegetable oil and continue to fry with a quick to and fro motion until they begin to turn brown and coated with the oil.

Remove and set aside to be served with the coconut milk rice.

Step 16: Cook Hard Boiled Eggs and Slice Cucumber.

To make the perfect hard boiled eggs:

First pour water into a pot. Add the eggs. Then switch on the flame. At boiling point, cover the pot and switch off the flame and let cook for another 15 minutes. To keep the yolk in the centre for better presentation, stir the pot occasionally when the egg is cooking. Remove the egg shells when they are still warm. Using a sharp knife, slice the eggs in halves when they have cooled to ensure that the yolks are sliced smoothly. Then set aside to serve with the hot coconut milk rice.


Use the local variety. Cut off both ends and peel the cucumber. Then slice into thick slices. There is no need to remove the seeds. Set aside to serve with the coconut milk rice.

Step 17: Assemble the Coconut Milk Rice (nasi Lemak).

Dish up the hot coconut milk rice on a plate and serve alongside with all the other condiments. And we're done. As always, Enjoy!


The essential Coconut Milk Rice recipe consists of the hot coconut milk rice, the chilli sauce, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, eggs and cucumber.

However, there are variations to the Coconut Milk Rice recipe where other extras such as fried chicken, beef curry, prawns and other seafood are added as well.

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