So in this respect, I suppose it's just as well that I live in Malaysia where we're absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to rice recipes. The fact is, Malaysia is a food haven especially where rice (and noodles) is concerned; her multicultural society made sure of that. Each ethnicity has its own rice specialties and, over time, these have become so ingrained in our dietary preferences that - bar halal and non-halal issues - we've come to truly enjoy each other's offerings. Read on as I now walk you through some of Malaysians' favourite rice-based nom noms.
1. NASI LEMAK. With roots set in both Malay culture and cuisine, the term nasi lemak (pronounced luh-mahk) literally means "fatty rice" - or in this context, "rich" or "creamy" rice. Frequently taking centre stage at Malaysian food fairs abroad, nasi lemak is the undisputed national dish of Malaysia. It is a supremely-fragrant rice dish that's cooked in coconut milk with knotted pandan (screwpine) leaves and a stalk of lemon grass thrown into the rice while steaming to lend it aroma. In its most basic form, nasi lemak is served wrapped in banana leaves with fresh cucumber slices, fried anchovies, poached eggs, roasted groundnuts and generous amounts of spicy, chilli-based gravy (or "sambal"). As a more substantial meal, however, nasi lemak can also come with a variety of side dishes such as pickled vegetables, chicken, beef, shrimp or fish. A must-try for every visitor to Malaysia.
|1. Nasi lemak|
|2. Hainanese chicken rice|
|3. Nasi kandar|
|4. Nasi biryani|
As a recipe per se, there's really nothing overly-unique about banana leaf rice; it's typically white rice with an assortment of Indian dishes on the side (curry, chicken, fish, vegetables, etc.) and a piece or two of papadom. Portions are usually quite hefty and, to finish, could prove to be a bit of a challenge for the uninitiated - especially when (traditionally) you'll have neither fork nor spoon to perform the task with. Nonetheless, I urge all visitors to my country to give it a go if only for the experience. Go wash your hands now.
|5. Banana leaf rice|
|6. Claypot chicken rice|
I hope you'll make time when you're in town to sample some, if not all, of the wonderful rice dishes I've mentioned here. They are inexpensive, truly delicious and will leave you with a lasting memory of the great (and "real") nasi you had in Malaysia.... truly Asia.
Have you had any of the rice dishes above before? If so, did you like them? Do share with us your thoughts by leaving a line below.