Nasi Lemak Recipe

Serve nasi lemak

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
247 Calories
2g Fat
53g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 247
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 5g
Calcium 38mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Nasi lemak is a meal that consists of rice cooked in coconut milk served with sambal and garnishes that often include hard-boiled eggs, pickled vegetables, and crispy fried anchovies. Nasi lemak is considered a national dish of Malaysia, but various versions are also found in some regions of Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

The rice in nasi lemak is cooked in much the same way as rice is cooked in water except that the water is substituted with coconut milk. The richness in flavor is complemented by the fragrance imparted by pandan leaves and, sometimes, lemongrass and makrut lime leaf.

Long-grain rice is ideal for this dish as the starch content is low and the grains will not clump together.

Learn what foods you need to stock your pantry with to cook Filipino recipes.


  • 2 cups basmati or any long-grain rice
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white portion only)
  • 1/2 makrut lime leaf (optional)
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • Garnishes: sambal, hard-boiled egg halves, sliced cucumber, crispy fried anchovies, peanuts

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for nasi lemak
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Rinse the rice and drain.

    Rinse rice
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Tie the pandan leaf into a knot.

    Tie pandan leaf
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Lightly pound the lemongrass stalk.

    Lightly pound lemongrass
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Drop the pandan leaf, lemongrass, and makrut lime leaf, if using, into the pot (alternately you can use a rice cooker). Pour in the rice followed by the coconut milk, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.

    Blend lemongrass
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Halfway through cooking, remove the lid and stir the rice briefly with a fork. Continue cooking until done.

    Coconut pandan rice
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. To serve, place a mound of coconut rice at the center of a plate. Top with a heaping tablespoon of sambal. Arrange the garnishes around the rice and serve.

    Serve nasi lemak
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga