Coconut rice, chili on the side, slivers of anchovy, nuts, and a boiled egg: meet Malaysia’s national dish, the nasi lemak. A simple everyday meal gracing the dinner table of Malaysians all across the country, this beloved dish has a history as humble as its ingredients.
The nasi lemak started off as a farmer’s meal. Long days in the field meant a filling dish ready for on-the-go eating was essential. The rice, oils, and fish provided a balanced diet in one packet, and it was easily concocted too. A recipe of Malay origin, it made use of the seafront harvests, coconuts, and fish.
A closer look at the individual ingredients shows exactly why this plain dish is so revered among the locals.