Nasi Minyak – Malaysian flavored rice


Growing up, this special rice was served usually at weddings. In fact, the question “when are we eating nasi minyak?” to a bachelor or bachelorette also means – when are you getting married? Of course, the accompaniments of this special rice would be even more elaborate at weddings, beef beriani for the main cuts of beef, dalca for all the yummy beef bones and fattier parts, chicken in red sauce, vegetable chutney and salads. The rice would be fragrant with saffron and rose water – and cooked on open fire. Anyone would know when there is a wedding, just follow the yummy smells (and beautifully dressed women and men clad in traditional attire.)

These days, the nasi minyak served at weddings are usually pre-prepared by caterers. Still special, and with more accompaniments than ever. However, the simpler version of the dish can also be served at home. Children who sometimes refuse to eat plain, steamed rice can be enticed to having a full dinner by making this flavoured rice with chicken and sweet pickled cucumber and carrots. Purists would make the rice with ghee and milk, making it a very rich dish. I make the rice with olive oil, thinly sliced onions and spices. Here is the recipe (for 4 people):

IMG-20130116-00277  IMG-20130116-00278

Nasi Minyak

  • 2 cups of basmati rice – wash and soak in water for 30 minutes, drain.
  • 2.5 cups of water (for cooking rice)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion – sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon juice from fresh ginger (grate fresh ginger and squeeze out juice)
  • 2 cardamom seeds, 2 cloves, a small cinnamon stick, a star anise, 1 bay leaf (we usually use pandanus leaf here in Malaysia)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric or saffron powder,
  • 1 .5 teaspoon sea salt

– Heat olive oil, brown onions till caramelized. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and bay leaf. Stir until well mixed. Add ginger juice and salt. Add water.

– Put in the turmeric powder and sea salt, let water boil, add rice. Lower heat and when the water has evaporated and rice has puffed up, lower heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot. 7 minutes later, fluff the rice with a fork (gently) and if rice is fluffy and no more water has remained in the bottom of the pan, switch off heat and let rice steam a further 5 to 10 minutes.


Chicken in Red Sauce – This is a sweet, sour, slightly spicy chicken with a very thick sauce. Add as much chillies as you like. This recipe makes a sauce that is not too spicy.

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 12 pieces – marinade with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder for 30 minutes. Brown in a little oil – do this in batches – the purpose is to get the outside of the chicken seared and the inside should still be rare.
  • 1/2 onion sliced finely
  • 2 cardamoms, a small cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 1 fresh lemon grass – bruised
  • 2 shallots, 2 garlic, 2 large red chillies 1 whole tomato, 1 inch of ginger – blend fine
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons chilli sauce (optional), 1 teaspoon fish sauce.
  •  some salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup water

– Brown the chicken pieces, remove when golden, do the next batch till done. Reserve 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan. Add to the pan the blended ingredients and the lemon grass. Stir well, add cardamoms, cinnamon and star anise as well as the sambal oelek. After the water has evaporated, add the onion that had been sliced fine, tomato sauce, chilli sauce and fish sauce. Mix well.

– Add the 1/2 cup of water, taste. If  too tart, add some brown sugar. Add chicken pieces, cover pot and cook on medium heat till chicken is tender and sauce has thickened. Finally taste again, the sauce should be salty, sour, a little sweet and spicy. Add frozen piece, stir to cook through. Ready to serve.

Pickled Cucumber and Carrots

  • 1 cucumber and 1 carrot – cut into half, lengthwise, slice thinly
  • 1 red onion, cut into two and slice thinly
  • 1 fresh red chilli – slice thin
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water

– Place all the sliced veggies into a bowl.

– Mix the rest of the ingredients and stir till the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the pickling juice to the vegetable. Mix well, leave in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavours meld together.

About mumstech
Retired at 40 after working in various industries including banking and financial services, oil and gas as well as higher education.Now a stay-at-home mum, cheerleader for husband and son, cleaner, nutritionist, cook, laundry lady, driver, clerk cum administration assistant, public relations, personal assistant... I never knew that squeaky clean floors can give me such satisfaction!

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