If you’re wondering what to serve with your nasi lemak, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I list 11 of the most popular side dishes for nasi lemak.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with nasi lemak include spicy fried chicken, sambal prawn fried egg, and fried anchovies. For healthier options, try roasted okra, Asian cucumber sesame salad, kangkung belacan, or sambal potatoes. You can also serve beef rendang or spicy chili lime peanuts.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Southern spicy fried chicken
Fried chicken and nasi lemak is a classic combination in Malaysia.
And this southern fried chicken definitely is worth trying.
The chicken is marinated in a spicy paste consisting of 12 different herbs and spices, including cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and celery salt.
Then it’s fried to golden brown perfection.
Serve both with a green salad for a balanced meal.
Nasi lemak just isn’t the same without sambal!
Sambal is a spicy sauce typically made with fresh chili peppers, shrimp paste, and lime juice.
You can enjoy nasi lemak with a variety of different sambals, but sambal prawn is one of my favorites.
Succulent shrimp are cooked in the firey paste, making a sort of mini curry.
Whether you enjoy it for breakfast or lunch, sambal prawn will leave you feeling satisfied.
Asian cucumber sesame salad
With its crisp cucumbers, zesty dressing, and nutty sesame seeds, this salad perfectly balances the rich flavors of nasi lemak.
It acts as a nice refreshing palate cleanser between bites, and will also help calm down any heat from the sambals on your plate.
And the best part?
This cucumber salad only needs a few minutes of hands-on prep.
Spicy chili lime peanuts
Nasi lemak is traditionally served with multiple different sides around it.
Each side is supposed to bring something unique to the dish.
And these spicy chili lime peanuts bring the crunch!
Psst… use any leftovers to crumble over a pasta bake for a crispy top.
Vegetable & chickpea coconut curry
There are no rules when it comes to when to serve with your nasi lemak.
So why not get creative and try out this vegetable and chickpea coconut curry.
Granted, it might not be traditional, but it’s definitely a delicious way to change things up.
The curry adds a nice depth of flavor to the dish, and the coconut milk meshes well with your coconut-infused rice.
The best part is that it only takes 25 minutes to cook, so you won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
Not digging the spicy fried chicken?
Try your rice with fried anchovies instead.
Anchovies are small and very crispy, so they provide a nice contrast to the soft, fluffy rice.
In terms of flavor, they’re salty and full of umami, so they can definitely hold their own on a plate full of other bold dishes.
This recipe uses fresh anchovies, whereas in Malaysia it’s more usual to fry dried anchovies (like in this recipe).
Who doesn’t love a runny yolk?
For the ultimate nasi lemak experience, be sure to serve it with a fried egg on top!
The rich, coconut-flavored rice pairs perfectly with the egg’s runny yolk.
Plus, who can say no to the added protein?
Get the perfect fried egg with this recipe from Cookie and Kate.
Well done eggs and boiled eggs work well too.
Kangkung belacan (water spinach with shrimp paste)
If you’re still on the fence about what veggie side to include, this kangkung belacan might do the trick.
This classic Malaysian dish is made by stir-frying water spinach with a spicy shrimp paste sauce.
And if you can’t find water spinach you can simply substitute it with regular spinach (or sweet potato leaves if you can find them).
While the traditional toppings for nasi lemak are fried chicken or fish, beef rendang is one of my favorite pairings.
Beef rendang originated from Indonesia, which is where I first tried it and fell in love.
The beef is simmered in a mixture of spices and coconut milk until it’s incredibly tender and SUPER tasty.
If you haven’t tried it – you need to! Here’s a great beef rendang recipe. I also have another article on other things you can eat with rendang.
SPOILER ALERT: the secret ingredient is toasted coconuts.
Crispy oven-roasted okra
The name “nasi lemak” literally means “fatty rice,” which is a pretty accurate description of this rich dish.
It’s typically served for breakfast, but can also be enjoyed for lunch or dinner.
And a simple side I like to serve with the rice for dinner is oven-roasted okra.
The sweet, grassy flavor complements the coconut milk nicely.
Pro tip: roast the okra on high heat to get rid of that slimy texture.
Coconut sambal potatoes
Looking for a vegetarian sambal option?
Give these coconut sambal potatoes a shot.
The potatoes add a lovely creamy component to the dish, and they soak up all of the delicious flavors from the sambal sauce.
The result is a filling and flavorful meal that will leave you 100% satisfied.
The best side dishes to serve with nasi lemak
- Southern spicy fried chicken
- Sambal prawn
- Asian cucumber sesame salad
- Spicy chili lime peanuts
- Vegetable & chickpea coconut curry
- Fried anchovies
- Fried egg
- Kangkung belacan (water spinach with shrimp paste)
- Beef rendang
- Crispy oven-roasted okra
- Coconut sambal potatoes
What To Serve With Nasi Lemak
- 1 portion nasi lemak
- Prepare your nasi lemak according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: southern spicy fried chicken, sambal prawn, Asian cucumber sesame salad, spicy chili lime peanuts, vegetable & chickpea coconut curry, fried anchovies, fried egg, kangkung belacan (water spinach with shrimp paste), beef rendang, crispy oven-roasted okra, and coconut sambal potatoes.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!