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Malaysian Nasi Lemak with Sambal Ikan Bilis (Coconut Milk Rice with Sambal Anchovies)

At the very first Halal Food Tour by Sameer’s Eats that took place in Irvine, CA I met some of the most amazing and humble people who I liked the instant I met them. The night before the tour, Sameer invited all of the volunteers and myself to dinner at MAS Islamic Chinese Restaurant in Anaheim. I had no idea what to expect, but we were in for one of the most delicious dinners we’ve ever experienced…and I’m not sure we would’ve had that experience without our new Malaysian friends that awaited us at the large round family-style table as part of the Halal Food Tour party.

One of the sisters I met, Soraya, really helped me figure out what to order on the vast and delectable menu–and she encouraged me to try new things like jellyfish (which was absolutely delicious, by the way).  After a couple of hours of discussing Malaysian food, Chinese cuisine, interesting food and cooking, I knew I had to ask her opinion on the best, most traditional recipes for Ramadan in her family. Below is the recipe she shared with all of us, indicating the fresh and exotic (to me) ingredients that are rather easy to find if you can spot a great Asian market nearby. If not, try heading up to largest city close to you, or look for ingredients on Amazon.


Serves 5

Coconut Milk Steamed Rice

3 cups of rice
1 can of coconut milk (available at most Asian store)
½ inch of ginger, thinly sliced
¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
A pinch of coarse black pepper
Salt, to taste
Some water
2-3 screwpine leaves (or La Dua from Asian store – if available), tied in a knot

Tamarind Juice

1 cup of water
1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Sambal Ikan Bilis (Anchovies Sambal)

½ yellow onion (sliced)
3 cloves of garlic (sliced)
10 dried chillies
3 inch of belacan (prawn paste)
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 teapoon of sugar
1 cup of dried anchovies
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Other ingredients

2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half)
1 small cucumber, cut into thin slices
Roasted Peanuts
Papadum (thin and crispy flatbread)

DIRECTIONS (in the box below)

Soraya Ahyaudin has a master’s degree in science and environmental journalism from Universiti Sains Malaysia and will be pursuing her master’s in public diplomacy at the University of Southern California in Fall 2013. Her passion is to understand more on how people communicate at the individual, societal and cultural levels. Among her interests is how culture brings people closer – especially when bonding over scrumptious and yummy food.

Malaysian Nasi Lemak with Sambal Ikan Bilis (Coconut Milk Rice with Sambal Anchovies)

Nasi Lemak

By soraya Published: July 23, 2013

  • Yield: 5 Servings
  • Prep: 45-60 mins

Nasi Lemak is one of the most traditional Malaysian dishes; it's also considered a comfort food close to the heart of the Malaysian people- one that no one will refuse when offered. This dish is a special because it represents the different ethnic groups that make up the country – Malays, Chinese and Indians. It’s neither complicated nor time consuming to make, as well.



  1. Just like making normal steamed rice, wash, rinse and drain the rice. Measure the height of washed rice in the cooker. Add ginger, yellow onion, garlic, and black pepper. Mix well with coconut milk, and water where the liquid mixture (coconut milk and water) is equivalent to the height of rice, i.e. if the rice is 2 inches in height, the liquid mixture is also 2 inches above the surface of the washed rice. Add a pinch of salt and the knotted screwpine leaves (if available). Steam the rice in the rice cooker.
  2. While waiting for the rice to cook, wash the dried anchovies and drain the water. Sauté the anchovies until they turn light brown and set aside.
  3. Cut the dried chillies in half and remove the seeds. Wash and place the washed chillies in a pot to boil. Once boiled, drain and place the chillies in a food processor with yellow onion, garlic, and belacan (prawn paste). Grind until it turns into a fine paste.
  4. Add the tamarind paste with water and stir well.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the chilli paste. Fry the spicy paste until fragrant and cooked.
  6. Add tamarind juice, salt and sugar. Let it simmer over low heat until the gravy thickens. Add the ikan bilis (fried anchovies) and stir well. Taste the sambal. If the sambal is still too spicy for taste, add sugar according to taste. Once it is suited to taste, set aside.
  7. Cut the cucumber into slices and cut the hard boiled eggs in half.
  8. Spoon the coconut milk steamed rice on a plate. Add the spicy sambal ikan bilis (anchovies sambal) to rice with cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs. Additionally, you can add the roasted peanuts and papadum, if you want.

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    1. I was very happy to find this web-site.I wished to thanks on your time for this glorious read!! I positively having fun with each little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

    2. Bunch of thanks for sharing this interesting and informative post. Keep it up

    3. Please i wish to know more of the malaysian may of cooking.

      thanks and assallahmulaikum

    4. 3inch of belacan, would mean like half of a small jar?
      3inch in height of the jar, right?
      Thank you so much!

    5. Salam,

      Try using 3 inch of belacan approx. the size of your thumb. Not too much, unless you are used to the flavor of using it. Hope that helps!


    6. How many oz of coconut milk? and what is the ratio for coconut milk and water?

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