It's the savoury and creamy rice that carries this dish, with spicy sambal to give it that extra zing.
Translate nasi lemak from Malay to English, and you will get 'rich rice'. The ‘rich’ refers not to wealth, but the coconut cream that makes it oh-so sinfully scrumptious.
This dish is a perfect mix of flavours: aromatic rice infused with coconut milk and pandan leaves, eaten with deep-fried fish or chicken wings, otah (grilled fish paste), fried ikan bilis (local anchovies) and peanuts, eggs, cucumber slices, and sambal (spicy chilli paste).
It is a hearty meal that is adored by the Malays as well as non-Malays who have their own version of nasi lemak. The rice is the same, although some have a greenish hue owing to the pandan leaves, but it is the side dishes that set each other apart.
The Chinese version, for instance, can come with anything from deep fried drumstick, chicken franks and fish cake to curried vegetables and luncheon meat.