Singapore Local Food Series: Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak is a local dish that you shouldn't miss!

Mommy Rhey | Sept. 5, 2021 | 830 reads
Singapore Local Food Series: Nasi Lemak
Credit: hungrybird.sg / Nasi Lemak

Most of Singaporean dishes are influenced by the Chinese, Indonesian and Malays. Various dishes and recipes that are brought by immigrants in the 1900s were adapted and loved. Some of these dishes are now mixed with other ingredients to enhance the flavor and to discover recipes.

One of the dishes influenced by Malay in Singapore is Nasi Lemak. Nasi Lemak is one of the native foods well-loved by Singaporeans.

But how did this Malaysian dish come to Singapore?

According to the National Heritage Board (roots.gov.sg), the Nasi Lemak was sold from house to house back in the 1970s. It has been acknowledged by Singapore Food Heritage.

Also, a bit of history, if you didn't know yet, Singapore was once part of Malaysia in 1963 and separated in 1965. The main reason why Malaysia plays a crucial part in Singapore's culture -- and that includes the food fare.

What is a Nasi Lemak?

Nasi Lemak is rice cooked with coconut milk (which gives it its creamy taste), topped with pandan leaves (for fragrance), and wrapped in a banana leaf (that enhances the aroma of the coconut milk). It is served with various side dishes such as cucumber, peanuts, egg, chicken cutlets, anchovies and sambal, the most important part of the dish.

Sambal is a chili sauce or paste.

Nasi Lemak is normally eaten for breakfast, especially if you're a person that loves to have rice in the morning. But nowadays it is served during lunch or dinner. So you can enjoy it anytime of the day.

In Singapore, they serve two versions of Nasi Lemak: The Singaporean Malay and Singaporean Chinese.

The Singaporean Malay version has a less spicy and sweet sambal along with side dish such as ikan bilis (archovies), peanut, eggs (omelette or fried eggs).

On the other hand, the Singaporean Chinese version is usually topped with pandan leaves and has deep-fried drumsticks, chicken franks, and fish cake as a side dish.

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