Malaysian Vegan Nasi Lemak (Easy Recipe)

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Nasi Lemak, Malaysia’s national delicacy, in a vegan variant. A taste explosion is created by combining aromatic coconut rice, spicy and salty sambal, toasted peanuts, and fresh cucumbers.

What exactly is Nasi Lemak?

Nasi lemak technically translates to “oily/fatty rice,” but in this situation, it refers to the rice cooked in coconut milk as “rich or creamy.” Pandan leaves are also utilized to give them a unique aroma. At important events, additional protein dishes such as Ayam Goreng (fried chicken), rendang (beef or chicken stew), and sambal sooting (cuttlefish in spicy chili sauce) are served.

This popular meal may be found in various places, including morning markets, food booths, street food, and hotels.

Nasi lemak is made out of two key ingredients: coconut rice and sambal cooked chile paste. You can journey to Malaysia without buying a plane ticket if you combine these two combinations plus some additional aspects.

Making a large quantity of sambal is a good idea because it takes up the majority of the cooking process. This meal reminded me of how easy it is to purchase a box of this delicious dish in Malaysia. This dish is undoubtedly a testament to love because of the amount of time and energy that goes into it.


Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Easy Recipe)


In nasi lemak, sambal is the most significant sauce. To prepare superb nasi lemak, you’ll need decent sambal. Different sambals are used in different parts of Southern East Asia. Our sambal is typically produced using a blend of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, shallot, onion, palm sugar, tamarind pulp, and belacan for Malaysian nasi lemak (shrimp paste)

Reading the list, you’ll see that virtually all of the components for sambal are vegan by design, except for belacan, which I substituted in this recipe with soaked wakame and pickled radish. Wakame has a robust fishy umami flavor, making it a fantastic substitute for belacan to really amp up the savory flavor. Pickled radish is completely optional; however, I believe it adds a pleasant texture to the dish, comparable to that of dried shrimp, especially when cooked.

Share the image below to your Pinterest board if you like this delicious vegan Nasi Lemak!

Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Easy Recipe)

List of Ingredients

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 pcs pandan leaves, knotted
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 4 sliced shallots
  • 4-5 slices of ginger
  • 2 stalk lemongrass, bruised
  • 4 cup rice, rinsed and drained twice
  • 6 cups fresh coconut milk (or dilute 500g of coconut cream to 6 cups)

The Sambal Tumis/Sautéed Chili Paste Ingredient A (To purée)

  • 1 tsp dried wakame, soaked
  • 2 tbsp preserved Radish, soaked
  • 10 chopped shallots
  • 2 chopped thumb-sized ginger
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 chopped onion

Sambal Tumis/Sautéed Chili Paste Ingredient B

  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup tamarind/Asam Jawa water, or 1 tsp Asam diluted in water
  • 1/3 cup gula Melaka/palm sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup oil
  • 2 sliced onions, sliced
  • 2 pieces of pandan leaves
  • 10 oz of dried chili paste/chili gilling/chili boh
  • 10 oz of water


The Nasi Lemak

  1. Heat some frying oil in a wok. Fry the shallots and ginger slices until the shallots and ginger slices are aromatic.
  2. Whisk in the lemongrass, rice, and pandan leaves thoroughly in the wok.
  3. Fill the rice cooker halfway with the contents of the pan. Then, prepare per the rice cooker directions, adding coconut milk, star anise, cinnamon stick, and salt.

The Sambal Tumis

  1. In a blender, purée all of the ingredients until smooth, then put aside. If required, add extra water to aid in the mixing process.
  2. Heat the oil (vegetable) in a large pan or wok over medium-low heat before adding half of the chopped onions and the pureed components. Reduce excess moisture and sauté until aromatic.
  3. Stir in the dry chili paste until everything is well combined. Cook until the chile oil has risen to the surface.
  4. Put in the pandan leaves and water in three batches. Before adding the next round of water, whisk until the mixture thickens. Cook until the chile oil has risen to the surface.
  5. Add the rest of the chopped onions and the palm sugar. To blend, stir everything together.
  6. Throw in vegan oyster sauce and tamrind/Asam Jawa water. Cook, stirring constantly, for eight to ten minutes, or until the mixture gets a dark crimson color.

How to Serve Nasi Lemak

  • Serve the Nasi Lemak with some Sambal Tumis and any toppings or side dishes of your choice on a platter (peanuts roasted, tempeh fried, rendang, etc.)
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