This is the national dish of Malaysia, and while the number of versions may be endless, at its heart it’s coconut rice, a few textural accompaniments and a delicious sambal. 






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (23 votes)


Coconut rice

  • 400 g (2 cups) jasmine rice
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 pandan leaves


  • 3 long red chillies, seeds removed
  • 8 dried chillies, seeds removed, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 25 g (¼ cup) ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, chopped
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 candlenuts
  • 2 cm cube toasted belacan (Malaysian shrimp paste)
  • 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup tamarind pulp, mixed with 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 1 tbsp grated palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

To serve

  • 200 g (2 cups) ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
  • 140 g (1 cup) peanuts, shell off but skin on
  • 2 short cucumbers, sliced
  • 4 hard - boiled eggs, halved

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 coconut rice, wash the rice and place in a saucepan with the coconut milk and a pinch of salt. Pour in enough cold water to cover the rice by 2 cm. Tie the pandan leaves into a knot and add to the pan. Bring to the boil over medium - high heat and boil until the level of the liquid reaches the top of the rice. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan and cook for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and stand for a further 5 minutes without opening the lid. 
  2. Meanwhile, for the sambal, combine the chillies, ikan bilis, onion, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, candlenuts and belacan in a blender and blitz into smooth paste. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok over low - medium heat and fry the paste for about 10 minutes or until deeply fragrant and the oil separates from the paste. Strain in the tamarind water, add the sugars and salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened and fragrant. Taste and adjust for seasoning. 
  3. Heat 1 cm of oil in a wok over medium – high heat. Fry the ikan bilis and peanuts separately until crisp. Drain on paper towel and season each with a little sugar and salt.  
  4. Serve the sambal with the coconut rice, cucumber, fried ikan bilis and peanuts and the boiled eggs.


Join Adam & Poh on a Malaysian-Australian eating adventure in Adam & Poh's Malaysia in Australia