The Hawker Series THE GOOGLE WORTHY NASI LEMAK – a tale of Lemak and Lepak


Nasi Lemak – the beloved national dish of Malaysia

I don’t know how many of you know this but it was very recently on 31 jan 2019 that Google honoured Nasi Lemak by putting it on their Google Doodle.

For the uninitiated, a Google Doodle “is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures. Wikipedia

It has nothing to do with the Yankee Doodle which is a song which will go on in your head over and over again once you hear it, and which will be an instant erection killer even though you are wearing leopard underwear and double dosed on viagra.

What struck me about the article in the Straits Times (the Singapore News Publication), which I read with mirth, was the writer seemingly distancing himself – much of his reporting was prefaced with “Google says”.

Not so when the New Straits Times (name of the news publication in Malaysia – see how we compete?) reported it.

I was chuckling when I saw the different style of reporting and how Malaysia embraced what Google had said as the gospel truth.

Straits Times (Singapore)

“Google says the rich, fragrant, and spicy dish is believed to have originated as a hearty breakfast for farmers on the Malaysian peninsula’s west coast. It also notes that the dish is also popular in neighbouring Singapore and Thailand.

New Straits Times (Malaysia)

KUALA LUMPUR: We Malaysians love our nasi lemak – and apparently, so does Google (who can blame them?), as it is celebrating the local delicacy in its latest doodle.

However you enjoy your nasi lemak, one thing is for sure – we all love the dish (Hmm… when you think about it, multi-racial Malaysians are just like each ingredient of the dish, and when put together, we are formidable combination.

Eh Abang Sameer Ahmed Shaikh, it’s “we are a formidable combination” la.

Wah Lao Eh (literally WTF)

How to be formidable like that ?

Don’t believe me ?

Ask Nelson Mandela

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

Nelson Mandela

Oh and make sure you ask the correct Nelson Mandela.

Morgan Freeman is sick and tired of being mistaken for Nelson Mandela when he is alive and Mr Mandela is dead.



See how Singapore toned down the reference to nasi lemak being the national dish of Malaysia ?

This is what google actually said unequivocally


Today’s Doodle celebrates the rich, fragrant, and spicy dish, known as Nasi Lemak. The dish — considered the national dish of Malaysia and widely eaten year-round — is what many Malaysians start their day with. Also popular in Singapore and Thailand, the humble delicacy is believed to have originated as a hearty farmer’s breakfast on the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula.

We bicker like little children

Once again we touch on the thorny subject, who does this dish belong to – Singapore or Malaysia?

Alamak! (literally F**%# Hell) The big debate again.

Like siblings, we Singaporeans and Malaysians bicker like Abang/Adek (literally Mr Bang and Mr Dek) about who originated peppery Bak Kut Teh (herbal Bak Kut Tei), Roti prata (Roti canai), Chicken Rice, and now Nasi Lemak.

But hand on heart, listen to me my fellow Singaporeans (election time is coming so I’m trying to sound like Lim Tean), this dish we must give it to our Abangs (literally a man who bangs or it could also mean elder brother in Malay)

Why ?

Even the legend of its origination is set in Malaysia. Where to find someone in Singapore called “Mak Kuntum “?

Legends tell a story surrounding the dish, where the daughter, Seri, of a widow named Mak Kuntum (damn that’s just a funny sounding name) accidentally spilled coconut milk into the rice pot one day and was discovered.

“What did you cook?” Mak Kuntum asked and her daughter answered: “Nasi le, Mak!” (Rice, mother!)

Can you imagine instead of the widow mother Mak Kuntum asking the daughter, it was the widower father Pak Kantang asking ?

Then the answer would be : “Nasi Le, Pak (Rice, Father!)

Nasi Lepak?

That would be a truly Malaysian reference.

This is from the mother of all dictionaries Urban Dictionary

1) To hang out with friends, loiter about and do absolutely nothing. Commonly used in Malaysia. 
2) Chill 
3) Lepaking – the act of lepak
1) “Hey Johny, do you want to lepak this weekend?” 
2) “Hey Mark, lepak okay? I don’t need you on my case as well!” 
3) Those youngsters lepaking in the park are not from this neighbourhood.

Don’t get me wrong. We in neighbouring Singapore think of Lepaking as super damn positive. Singaporeans are too stressed and move too fast for our own good.

That’s why our men are gonastically challenged and our birth rates are falling drastically. Stress is the big killer of my fellow Singaporeans.

That and also Singaporean man marrying Cantonese women and Engs chilli.

Lepak means the act of chilling – not even to sleep or do something recreational. You have to be awake and mindlessly doing nothing.

It is an ancient art. It takes us to this special place where we are all frolicking in our hammocks under coconut trees.

And more importantly, we are all au naturel below ie airing ourselves wearing a sarong with nothing underneath like the Scots.

It’s the one time we feel free of our Cantonese women and fiery harmful chilli.

Ok my Malaysian friends, because there are hardly any coconut trees left in Singapore and the very possible Lepak reference, I give this dish to you.
But only in my personal capacity.
I don’t wear white and I am not in politics, so I can’t give it to you as a country.
But I tell you what – on 16 Sept 2019, I will charter a bus to ferry my fellow Singaporeans to Batu Pahat.
Where I will give them free Nasi Lemak, provided they “KeeChiu” (literally “put up their hand” spoken army style).
Seri this Seri that

Did you also notice that in the story, every one (ok we are told here it’s just the mother but use your imagination) is asking Seri things?

Seri what is cooking in the pot ?

Seri what is 143 x 211.3 ?

Seri do I look fat today ? Screw you Seri !

That’s why years later, Apple installed Siri in their phones.

They changed it slightly to avoid copyright issues.

Or maybe they just can’t pronounce Seri.

The Illustration

Did anyone notice how hilarious the nasi lemak illustration was?

The Straits Times reported that the illustration was by illustrator Alyssa Winans.

Why would you get Alyssa to be the illustrator of nasi lemak and not my Abang Mohammed Yusof Abdul Razak Bin Mustafa Ibrahim Salleh ?

You know what Alyssa came up with ?

A white square triangle (the rice) on a green placemat like thingy (banana leaf).

If google didn’t say it was their national dish, my Malaysian Abangs would have reacted badly to the illustration and rioted and burned effigies of____ .

Wait, who owns Google again ? It used to be Larry Page but now it’s owners are a mysterious Alphabet Inc.

Come to think of it, Alphabet Inc could be the Malaysians.

After all, how many of us knew that The Wolf of Wall Street (Serigala daripada dinding jalan) was produced by the Malaysians?

They probably produced it during a nasi lemak interlude.


How to cook nasi lemak

Huang kitchen

To all of you purists who say nasi lemak has to have this or that as ingredients, or must be wrapped in banana leaf (don’t give us more stress – we are running out of banana trees too and our birth rates are falling), I say this in the most gentle and affable way possible – you are a moron.

To me, just get two things right. And once you get these two things right, you can add on as much weird shit as you want and call it nasi lemak.

The two things are – wait for it – the mighty cucumber and the random peanuts.

Seriously, put your parang down, it’s the fragrant coconut rice and the delectable chilli.

I see the hissy fit coming.

Seri is this true?

Seri does he even cook ?

Seri will I get fat eating nasi lemak ? Screw you Seri.

Seri has scrotum face here even cooked nasi lemak before ?

So before I go on, here are the nasi lemak dinners I have cooked in recent times.

Why do I almost never have faces of my friends in the food pics ?

Because, let’s face it, my friends are not the most attractive people in the world.


Also because I am extremely sensitive to one’s confidentiality.

They may not have told their Cantonese wives that they are coming over for dinner, and I forget their wives names and whether that winsome and sultry lass they brought is the wife.

And besides, with no pics of them eating my food, law suits are difficult to prove should they suffer any untoward effects like food poisoning, gonasticas reductas etc.

The Rice

I prefer to use basmati when I am cooking nasi lemak as they are grainier. But you can use normal Thai rice.

Pandan leaves or screwpine leaves (interesting name) is the next secret ingredient. The leaves are highly fragrant with a floral vanilla smell. 

An erudite writer May Chong says this when Nigella Lawson, in an inspired moment of extreme blondeness (even though she is brunette), said that pandan is the new matcha.

“Matcha is a highly prized, meticulously grown green tea with a multitude of health benefits due to its high antioxidant levels.

Pandan, on the other hand, grows like a weed in South East Asia, can’t be drunk like a tea (it’s disgusting), and has no known nutritional value.

The only similarity between the two is that both can be used as flavouring and colouring in food. One costs the earth and the other is practically free.”

May – you go girl.

Does it work if you omit these leaves ?


No screw no good.


Tie up your pandan leaves into ribboned knots like so above.

Why ?

Knotting it releases a chemical reaction called pandacifitis which binds the flavours together with the coconut milk to emit rarefied gases that permeates the rice at a 45 degree north west angle when the temperature rises to 63 degrees celcius while cooking.

No …… Goondu! (literally F%@@wit).

If you don’t tie, how to cover the lid ?!!

Next comes the coconut milk.

Get a freshly grated coconut from the market (unless you are lepaking and there are coconuts everywhere), put it into water and squeeze and press the grated coconut to extract the creamy coconut cream.

Use this coconut cream/emulsion to cook the rice with the pandan leaves.

Add a dash of salt for taste.

Seri can I use canned coconut milk ? Why not ?

Sure you can but God will punish you by infesting your nether regions with a thousand pesky flies while you are lepaking in your sarong under the coconut tree.

The Chilli

Next time you try nasi lemak, you will notice that each and every stall differs in their chilli sauce.

If the chilli sambal is no good, then your nasi lemak is doomed.

Some chilli sauce are insipid and weak, some are way too sweet, some are dry and funky.

A good nasi lemak sambal to me has to be fiery, a little textured and not too smooth, quite sweet but not gonastically numbingly so, and with a hint of salt or fried anchovies. Not too thick but not watery either.

A little tangy like a saucy perky flirt but not too much.

Because this is a family channel.

So here’s my own personal recipe to make the nasi lemak chilli.

1. I would blend fresh chillies with a little dried chillies (2/3 fresh to a 1/3 dry), some garlic, some shallots, a medium piece of galangal, one or two candlenuts and a small piece of toasted or dry fried belachan (dried savoury prawn paste).

2. In a wok heat up about 3 spoons of peanut oil.

3. Fry the blended mixture over a moderate heat turning constantly for about 5 minutes.

3. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and fry for one minute.

4. Add 4 tablespoons of tamarind juice. This gives the chilli the tanginess to blend with the sweetness.

5. Add half a teaspoon of salt. The belachan is already very saltish so go easy on the salt.

6. Stir continuously and taste. Adjust and put in more sugar, tamarind water or salt to get the balance you want.

7- Add a fairly generous amount of water to dilute the mixture. Your sambal will dry and congeal up in the next few hours and adding water only later to dilute it will make you an imbecile.

Putting in too much water to serve a watery grave will make me hate you.

So proceed with caution.

8. If you are going to follow my last optional step below, then make it a little more watery as the extra ingredients added will clog up your sambal, as well as your arteries.

Also no salt then as the extra ingredients will be salty.

9. I have this optional step or ingredients I add to jazz up my nasi lemak sambal. It is stupid and idiotic but it will knock your socks off, together with your sarong.

After the chilli is dished out in a bowl and while it is hot, mix in some very crispily fried silver fish (not anchovies) and if you are feeling gonastically enhanced on that day, some crispy fried pork lard bits.

Did I stutter?

Yes you heard me right – pork lard bits. I call it my heart attack sambal.

You will become a legend or an idiotic pariah to your dinner guests.

Circle back and let me know what names they call you.

Don’t mention my name if they are unimpressed.

10 Suggested places to have Nasi Lemak


Since it’s their national dish and I have given it to them.

And please please people don’t argue with me about why I should add this or add that name in my list.

Seri how much to pay to get my name into gonastically adequate Mr Awesome’s list ?

$39.99. Or free if you are hot.

Hot today.

Not hot 40 years ago when the policeman wore shorts please.

Seri how do I know I’m no longer hot ?

If you are sending me a Polaroid pic by post.


1. Punggol Nasi Lemak

238 Tanjong Katong Rd, Singapore 437026,

2. The Coconut Club

6 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069787

3. Mizzy’s Corner (Changi Village Hawker Center )

2 Changi Village Road
#01-26 Changi Village Hawker Centre
Singapore 500002

4. Chong Pang Nasi Lemak

447 Sembawang Road, Singapore 758458

5. Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak

 Stall #02, Adam Food Centre, 2 Adam Road, Singapore 289876

6. Bali Nasi Lemak

 2 Lorong 15 Geylang, Singapore 388596

7. Yi Liu Xiang Nasi Lemak 

105 Hougang Avenue 1, Hainanese Village Market #02-30, Singapore 530105

8. Jia Xiang Nasi Lemak (Blue nasi lemak)
CT Hub2, 114 Lavender Street, #01-08/09 Singapore 338729

9. Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak

#01, 221B Boon Lay Pl, 106, Singapore 642221

10. Aliff Nasi Lemak

#01-27,, 49A Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555945




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