Eat for Your Health: Malaysian Nasi Lemak (V, GF)

Eating my way around the world..

One of my favorite parts of travel (and life really) is eating.  It's become even more exciting over the last few years as a plant-based lifestyle has become more mainstream because more and more options are popping up EVERYWHERE.  It doesn't matter which country I visit- there is a vegan restaurant, or at least a restaurant with labeled vegan options on the menu. Heck, I was even served vegan food all the way up Mount Kilimanjaro.  

This year I'm visiting  a lot of places, and I've made it my mission to find a restaurant in each country serving a plant-based/healthier version of a traditional cultural dish.  Not only have I been well fed along my travels so far, but I've developed great relationships with vegan restaurant owners in pursuit of this challenge.  

The first recipe comes from my time at the SunFresh Detox Kitchen in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February.  Restaurant owner Sinde Lo was kind enough to share her recipe for Nasi Lemak ('rich rice'), which is THE dish of Malaysia.  The highlight of this dish for me is the Sambal, or Malaysian Chili Sauce.  You can take a crack at making your own or you can try this.  Traditionally this dish is not at all vegan friendly, but try this one on for size and you won't be disappointed.  And if you're ever in Malaysia, go visit Sunfresh!

With the owner of Sunfresh Detox Kitchen, Sinde Lo

With the owner of Sunfresh Detox Kitchen, Sinde Lo

Note: you'll have to let the pickled veggies sit overnight

Serves 5

Time: about 1 hour

Sambal (Malay chili paste):

What you need:

  • Chilli Boh (grounded dried chili paste with a touch of vinegar or lemon)
  • 600 ml of water
  • 1 tsp Tamarind juice
  • Sea salt to taste  

What you do:

  • Prepare the Chili boh according to linked instructions above- caution: if you are making your own your eyes and nose may water from the chili smoke.  If it overwhelms you, lower the heat and cook the chili slowly.  The key to a good Sambal is patience!  When the oil rises above the thickened Sambal below, it's ready!
  • Set aside while preparing remainder of dish
vegan nasi lemak

Pumpkin and Cauliflower 

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
  • Cauliflower, 5 cups chopped
  • Pumpkin, 5 cups chopped
  • 1 cup organic soy milk
  • Turmeric power, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/6 of an avocado smashed with water to liquid like consistency

      What you do:

      • Heat up a small pan with cooking oil
      • Add cauliflower and lightly sauté for a few minutes, then add pumpkin, sautéing together with the cauliflower
      • Add soy milk and cover with a lid.  Lower the heat, stirring occasionally until pumpkin and cauliflower are soft.  
      • Add the cayenne, turmeric and salt to taste.  
      • Turn off the heat, let cool for 5-8 minutes then stir in the avocado paste and mix thoroughly.  

    Brown Rice

    What you need:

    • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
    • 1 cups coconut milk
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 pandan leaf, split and tied into a knot (optional)
    • pinch of sea salt

    What you do:

    • Cook rice according to package instructions (substituting 1 cup of coconut milk for one of the cups of water), adding a pinch of sea salt while cooking

    Pickled Veggies

    • 1 cup of any veggie combination you want, chopped (cucumbers and carrots work great)
    • 1 fresh chili, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • Apple cider vinegar
    • Brown sugar, 1 tsp

    What you do:

    • Add chopped veggies, chili, garlic and brown sugar to a bowl.  
    • Pour in apple cider vinegar so the veggies are completely covered
    • Allow to sit overnight and drain before serving

    Sautéed tempeh

    Note: tofu was used in the picture above, however Sunfresh uses either tofu or tempeh.  I prefer tempeh, which is the healthier option of the two

    What you need:

    • 1 package of tempeh, sliced into thin slabs
    • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

    What you do:

    • Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat
    • Sauté tempeh until golden brown

    Now you are ready to put it all together! Arrange brown rice, tempeh, cauliflower and pumpkin mixture on a plate and top with Sambal sauce.  Serve with a side of pickled vegetables and a green salad if you wish!  Enjoy!

    Terima kasih (thank you) to Sunfresh Detox Kitchen for sharing this delicious Malay recipe!