• Nyonya Laksa Lemak (Curry laksa) (Asia Unplated with Diana Chan)Source: Asia Unplated with Diana Chan

In the diverse laksa family tree, nyonya laksa lemak is distinguished by its rich broth of coconut milk that’s combined with a deeply aromatic spice paste. This sweet and spicy brew is typically filled with a bounty of seafood, tofu and chicken.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (97 votes)


  • 150 ml vegetable oil
  • 6 makrut lime leaves, scrunched
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • 10 green prawns, peeled and cleaned, tails in tact
  • 6 pieces tofu puffs, each sliced into 4 pieces
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • sugar and salt, to taste

Spice paste

  • 2 red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part chopped, green end reserved
  • 2-3 cm piece galangal, peeled
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 3 candlenuts
  • 3 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp belachan (shrimp paste)
  • 20 g dried prawns, soaked for 10 minutes and drained

To serve

  • small bunch of Vietnamese mint, leaves picked
  • 100 g dried thick rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to manufacturer's instructions
  • 50 g bean sprouts
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
  • ½ Lebanese cucumber, cut into julienne
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 fresh chilli, thinly sliced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. For the spice paste, place all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle and pound until a paste forms. Alternatively, you can use a blender.

2. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil, then the spice paste and makrut lime leaves. Stir-fry until the paste is slightly caramelised, fragrant and the oil splits from the paste. Add the chicken stock and reserved lemongrass tops and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, then add the prawns and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove the prawns from the broth and set aside. Drop in tofu puffs and let them cook in the broth for 3-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

3. Add the coconut milk to the simmering broth and as soon as it comes to the boil again, turn the heat off and remove the makrut lime leaves. Add sugar and salt to taste.

4. To serve, thinly slice the Vietnamese mint. Divide the cooked rice noodles between bowls and add some bean sprouts. Scoop 2-3 ladles of laksa broth into each bowl. Garnish with cooked prawns, tofu puffs, sliced eggs, cucumber and the Vietnamese mint. Squeeze some lime over the top if you like it slightly tangy, and serve the chilli for extra heat.


Diana Chan and guests explore the flavours of Asia from her Melbourne home in the second series of Asia Unplated.