Singapore-Vegan ‘Nasi Lemak’

So the Organic Mechanic had a potluck lunch today and I decided to bring something from home to the table. My parents visited me recently and left me some rice. I was gonna do a simple fried rice at first but then thought about a local Singaporean-Malaysian favorite I haven’t had in ages – Nasi Lemak!

In Malay, ‘nasi’ means rice and ‘lemak’ means fat. So the literal translation would be akin to “fatty rice” 😅 but a more elegant way of translating it is “rich and creamy rice”. The fats come mostly from the coconut milk the rice is steamed in and together with the pandan leaves, makes it one of the most aromatic rice dishes around!

The rice is normally served on a banana leaf alongside a variety of side dishes from stir-fried vegetables to deep fried small fishes, fried eggs, fried peanuts or tempeh and condiments such as Sambal chilli and cucumbers.

This recipe is #glutenfree, #dairyfree and #vegan 🌿😉
Courtesy of my sister chef who adapted it from this recipe.


Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice):
1 stalk of chopped lemongrass
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 chopped onion
2 tbsp Coconut oil
~1kg Jasmine White Rice (washed and drained)
2 cans Coconut Cream
(portions for rice, coconut cream and water varies according to amount of rice you want to cook. Details below)
Salt to taste

10 dried red Chilies (Cut into 2-3 pieces and soaked in warm water)
3-4 cloves of Garlic
5-6 shallots
Few strands of Lemongrass, chopped
1 onion cut into slices or rings
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Brown Sugar
Juice from 1/2 a lime (or 2 tsp tamarind)
Salt to taste

Veggie Stir Fry
French Beans
1 tsp Turmeric
Brown Sugar, Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Cucumber sliced
Coriander leaves
Banana leaf to serve in

For the Rice:

1. Blend 1 stalk of chopped lemongrass, 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 chopped onion together, till a rough paste

2. Stirfry mixture in oil till golden-brown and fragrant

3. Add mixture to rice, add water and coconut cream until liquid is about 1.5cm above rice line. Bring to a boil, then simmer and add salt to taste. (I added ~2 tbsp of salt for all that rice and thought it was too salty at first when I tasted the liquids)
However, it turned out fine after the rice was cooked!
Stir and check for doneness every so often to prevent burning.

4. Plate on some banana leaves with sliced cucumbers and coriander leaves on top


For the Sambal:

1. Drain soaked chilies and grind with shallots, garlic and lemongrass to a paste. Add some water while grinding.

2. Heat up oil in a frying pan or wok on medium heat and fry blended paste for 7-10 minutes.

3. Add onion rings and fry for 2-3 minutes more. Add water to attain the desired consistency.

4. Finally, add lime juice and season with salt and sugar . Stir well and put off the flame.

I could not find tamarind juice and so substituted it with lime juice. Also, I felt the sambal could have been spicier like our local ones so maybe more chili next time?

For the Stir-Fry

1. Cut carrots, tempeh and french beans into cuboidal strips (kinda like mini fries)

2. After heating up coconut oil in a large pan/wok, fry carrots, beans and tempeh until cooked before adding mushrooms, turmeric, salt, sugar and pepper.

3. Simmer in low heat and keep stirring until mushrooms are soft.


A Banana Leaf Blessing!

So on my way to buy the rice at the GoodFor store in Ponsonby yesterday, I was thinking about the dish and how nice it would be if I could find some real pandan leaves to make it more authentic. Then I happen to walk past a couple of odd sidewalk trees that just didn’t seem to blend in with the rest of the trees in Auckland’s neighborhood sidewalks.

When I looked closer, they turned out to be banana trees! Perfect for plating the Nasi Lemak!


How cool is that eh? 😀

Gotta thank the Man upstairs 🙏

A Crazy Morning!

I woke up at 530am intending to cook from 6-8am, go for mass at 830am and arrive at the La Cigale Markets at 1030am. However, disaster struck when the blender my landlord had lent me acted up and stopped working!

I spent a good amount of time trying to remedy it but eventually had to borrow a hand blender from another flatmate.

By 815am, I was only done with the rice!

As there was only the one english mass at 830am today, I had to stop everything, tidy up the kitchen, write a sign saying “Will be back to continue cooking, please don’t touch!” and head for church.

Of course, I had the utmost faith and trust in God and my flatmates and wasn’t worried about the food not being there when I came back. 😇

Eventually, I only managed to finish cooking at 11am! After packing it all in, it was 1130am – just on time to catch the train to reach the markets by 1230pm!

All in, I’m really satisfied at how everything worked out well in the end.

Judging from how fast the trays emptied, I think everyone loved the dish!

I definitely enjoyed it but I guess the real delight was seeing the smile on people’s faces as they enjoyed the food I prepared.



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