My Kitchen From Scratch

Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Bungkus)

Posted on: March 11, 2011

Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Bungkus)

Nasi lemak is undoubtedly the most iconic Malaysian dish of all, so much that we unofficially consider it as our national dish. They sell them everywhere, from road side hawker stalls to school canteens to high end restaurants. So, no wonder we have nasi lemak for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I remember when I was growing up, my grandmother used to bring me to eat nasi lemak off Loke Yew Road. They substituted the spicy sambal tumis with the milder sambal heh bee for children. Now that I am an adult, I love it prepared the way it should be.

Nasi lemak simply means rice cooked in rich coconut milk. When cooked together with pandan leaves and ginger slices, the rice has the most amazing aroma! But what’s nasi lemak without some accompaniments? In its simplest form, nasi lemak should have coconut rice, sambal tumis, hard boiled eggs, fried anchovies, peanuts and cucumber. When wrapped up with banana leaves and newspaper, it’s called nasi lemak bungkus and it’s the kind that you would get at hawker stalls. One can also serve it with beef, chicken, seafood or as elaborate as one wants it in the higher end versions.

I made my first nasi lemak with sambal sotong (squid with sambal). It’s an homage to the makcik, near my mom’s former office at Jalan Raja Chulan, from whom I got the most amazing nasi lemak with gulai sotong. I think her gulai is kind of hard to replicate but sambal sotong is close enough. =)


  • 2 cups good quality jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 can (200 ml) coconut milk
  • thumb size ginger, sliced thin
  • 3 pandan leaves, tied in a knot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • about 6 (or more) tbsp of sambal tumis
  • 2 medium squid, cleaned
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • toasted belacan, to taste
  • handful of tiny anchovies
  • handful of dry roasted peanuts
  • few large eggs, hard boiled
  • banana leaves (optional)
  • newspapers (optional)


Easy Pandan & Ginger-Scented Coconut Rice in a Rice Cooker

  1. In a rice cooker, mix rice, water, coconut milk, ginger, pandan leaves, and salt. Turn the rice cooker on.
  2. Fluff rice when it’s cooked.

Sambal Sotong

  1. Butterfly the squid and lightly score the body with a sharp knife. This is going to keep it from curling when cooked.
  2. Cut the body lengthwise into 2 and then crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips.
  3. Sweat onions with a little oil until soft. Add squid and stir fry for a minute.
  4. Add sambal tumis and saute until fragrant. Add belacan to taste, a little at a time.

Anchovy and Peanut Condiment

  1. Shallow fry anchovies under medium low heat until crispy. Be careful not to burn it.
  2. Let cool and mix with roasted peanuts.

Final Assembly (on a plate)

  1. Put a piece of banana leaf on a plate.
  2. Serve coconut rice on the leaf with sambal sotong, hard boiled eggs, anchovies and peanuts.

Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Bungkus) Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Bungkus) Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Bungkus)

Final Assembly (optional, nasi lemak bungkus style)

  1. Layer banana leaf on a newspaper. Notice that the newspaper is slightly wider and narrower.
  2. Put rice in the middle and accompaniments on the side.
  3. Fold the top and bottom halves together in the middle. You should have flaps on the left and right like in the second picture above.
  4. Tuck the flaps underneath tightly.

Final Notes

  1. Nasi lemak is also called nasi uduk in Indonesia and I am sure they are served slightly differently.

(recipes adapted from “Nasi Uduk – Beawinese Scented Coconut Rice” by Indonesia Eats and “Nasi Lemak Recipe – kampong style wrapping” by Madam Kwong’s Kitchen)

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15 Responses to "Malaysian Nasi Lemak (Bungkus)"

I am impressed that you actually wrapped up the nasi lemak, so authentic! That makcik would be very proud.

Thanks Elaine! This brings lots of memories. =)

This is one of those dishes that I’d love to make but can’t get the ingredients. :(

Some of the ingredients are quite exotic but just the coconut rice without any condiments would make me just as happy. =)

Wow Kwokmun! Your nasi lemak looks so much better than mine! :D
I want to learn how to wrap nasi lemak from you!

Here writing this comment on behalf of my parents who are now in Perlis, Malaysia. They like your blog, and have just bookmarked it! :D

Thanks, Shan. I need to try yours!

Hi Kwokmun. I’m a Malaysian living in Doha, Qatar. I’m soooo glad to find your website. Although I make nasi lemak here, it was always served on a plate – I really missed the bungkus one……realized I didn’t know how to bungkus dengan daun pisang! Thanks for your simple pictorial instruction!

You’re welcome! I know what you mean. Nasi lemak bungkus is just different. I find the smell of banana leaves irresistible.

[…] and they serve Malaysian favourites that all of us love from the hawker centres. I’ve had nasi lemak and curry laksa at Pappa Rich and their tastes are by no means top notched but it’s something […]

[…] much of this dish when I was growing up but I am glad I got to try it this time. My partner ordered nasi lemak, which happens to be an extremely popular food in Malaysia. Their version comes with coconut […]

[…] dacquoise, ginger macaron with lime marmalade and a chocolate garnish. The inspiration comes from nasi lemak, where the rice is made with coconut milk, pandan leaves, and ginger slices. I love how well the […]

Nice article
Thanks for the recipe :)

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