Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
One of my favourite lunchtime meals in Malaysia is nasi lemak, which literally translates to “fatty rice”. No, it’s not as disgusting as it sounds – the rice, which is the whole point of the dish, is scented with coconut milk (hence the “fatty”) and pandan* leaves, making it taste delicious. This fancy version was served with (clockwise from bottom left) a mix of fried anchovies and nuts, sambal*, rendang*, boiled eggs, cucumbers, and achar*. However, you can also get a plain version for as low as RM1, which comes with the rice, a bit of sambal and some boiled egg.
Nasi lemak can be eaten at any time of the day. Many choose to have it for breakfast with a cup of strong local coffee or “teh tarik”.
I usually have this dish at home, but good versions can be found at Madame Kwan, a restaurant chain serving local delicacies in Malaysia. Otherwise, most coffee shops will have it as well.
I had this particular dish at Temasek, a Malaysian-Singaporean restaurant in Parrammatta, NSW when I was feeling particularly homesick. They do an excellent nasi lemak here – tastes just like home.
Malaysian food vocabulary
Achar: Pickled vegetables, Malaysian style
Pandan: Screwpine, which has deliciously fragrant leaves
Rendang: A type of dry curry usually made with beef
Sambal: A chilli paste made with dried shrimp
Teh tarik: Literally translates to “pulled tea”. Milky tea is poured from one cup to another, often from a height (hence “pulled”) to cool it down, and to create a froth before it is served.
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