Monday, June 15, 2009

Today feels like a 'Nasi Lemak Day'

Nasi Lemak is a Malay word that literally means 'rice in cream'.

I remember many mornings of waiting in line to buy a packet of Nasi Lemak while I was teenage schoolgirl. Most of the time my packed lunch are simple butter and jam sandwiches or leftovers from last night's dinner but there are days that my mother will give me some money to buy lunch. That is a real treat!

Before I walked to school in the morning I will go across the street to buy some Nasi Lemak. The owner of this food vendor is an elegant Malay lady. She is modestly dressed, always with an apron wrapped around her. Her long black hair is combed into a neat bun, she is soft spoken and pleasant. There was always a long line of people waiting to be served and I hope she will move a little faster so that I would not be late for school.

There are two big stacks of cut newspaper and banana leaves at her little wooden table and little metal containers/pots of condiments like sliced cucumber,sliced hard boiled eggs,fried anchovies, braised water convulvus,roasted peanuts and sambal anchovies. There was cuttlefish and chicken sambal if you are willing to pay for some special additions. She has a big wooden bucket of cooked steamed rice (rice is steamed in coconut milk and flavored with few pieces of knotted screwpine leaves).

She will scoop a little rice onto a piece of banana leaf lined with newspaper and will add a few slices of cucumbers, small spoonfuls of fried anchovies,roasted peanuts and sambal. Then, she will artfully wrapped it up into a neat little packet.

The sweet aroma of the freshly cooked rice and aromatic spices in the different sambals will always linger in my memory. There are cold winter mornings that I would wake up and feel like this is the perfect day for 'Nasi Lemak'. After 22 years of marriage my American husband is just now a new Nasi Lemak fan and now joins me to say 'Today feels like a Nasi Lemak Day'


  1. I love nasi lemak simple like that. None of the fancy more-ingredient stuff. And nothing beats eating it in the banana leaf. Yummy!

  2. Um-m, um-m good! That was yummy! I love you nasi lemak, Cheeh Peng.... In the morning, in the noon day and even late at night.... NASI LEMAK!!!!