Sunday, April 1, 2012

Herbed Rice ( Nasi Ulam)

This is my second time cooking nasi ulam ( herbed rice). The first time i did this was several months back, i didnt blog about that becos i think my nasi ulam that time didnt come with a lot of ulam (vegetables/herbs) Just like the westerners have their western herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano..etc ..over her in malaysia we also have our locally grown herbs like ulam raja, kemangi, daun pegaga and lots more. Nasi ulam is a malay rice dish..quite an authentic malay cuisine. It is cooked rice mixed with shredded herbs and toasted coconut , can be spicy or non spicy and as i looked thru some of the cooking books i own, I see that it also comes with vegetarian or non vegetarian version. A non vegetarian version would include some shredded fried fish or salted fish. I see a lot of nasi ulam pictures in the internet and all are heavily loaded with ulam, therefore this time i added more of the vegetables so that it looks more like the real thing. Well, putting more of the herbs also means that the flavour of the herbs is more heavy in the dish.

Initially what i wanted to put in were turmeric leaves, mint leaves, basil leaves, laksa leaves cos these are the leaves that i'm more familiar with but on that day, when i was searching for turmeric leaves at the stall, the malay lady asked me,' what am i looking for.?' Daun kunyit ( turmeric leaves) i told her and that i wanted to make nasi ulam. She then said, " nasi ulam, angkatlah ini, ini, ini..ini ( in english means take this, this, this, this ) as she pointed and grabbed those leaves for me. As she handed those leaves to me, i took a smell of the leaves because some of it i never heard of , one or two smell quite plain to me though, some are pleasant and some are really fragrant.  I can tell you that when all these leaves come together, it really gives a very nice aroma to the dish. I was also told that some traditional nasi ulam can used up to 50-60 different types of herbs and leaves. I cant promise that if you make it ,you will love it but if you intend to make nasi ulam one day, just go to the market , see the variety of leaves and ulam and if you are unfamiliar with those ulam like me, can always ask the seller to recommend, you can always select those that you think you like them in your dish , i'm sure that they will be very kind enough to help.

Here are the ingredients that  i used for my nasi ulam
the stalks or sprigs of each herbs are quite thin, that i never counted some of it . It's not necessary to follow, just a few sprigs of each. 
enough for 3-4 persons
4 bowls of cooked rice
daun selom, 10 sprigs, cut into shreds
daun ulam raja, 14 sprigs, cut into shreds
daun pegaga 25gms, cut into shreds
daun kemangi (lemon basil)40gms, cut into shreds
daun selasih ( thai basil leaves) 8 sprigs, cut into shreds
daun cabang tiga 8 sprigs, cut into shreds
daun gajus (cashew leaves)8 sprigs, cut into shreds
kacang botol (four angled beans) 4 pieces, sliced
small onions 30gms, sliced
lemongrass 2 stalks ( mainly white and a little green part, sliced)
bunga kanthan ( torch gingerbud ) 2
2 1/2 tbsp kerisik or more or less( pounded toasted coconut) - i got mine from the wet market
fried salted fish 30gm, shredded or cut into small pieces (optional)
salt to taste

1. Once rice cooled down, put in the pounded toasted coconut, stir till well mixed with rice, add in all the shredded herbs and leaves and the rest of the ingredients followed by pinches of salt to taste.

Thought this dish looks quite green to me so off this goes to the Saint-Patrick Challenge organised by Very Good Recipes


  1. Ooo, a lovely nasi ulam recipe. Love daun cabang tiga (better known as tenggek burung down south).

  2. I love nasi ulam. The last time I had this was in the 90's. Looking at your list of herbs and the only one I can find here are lemongrass and Thai basil. So how to make this ha ha..I guess I can only drool over your nasi ulam.

  3. I actually had this the last trip I visited KL with my good friends. It was really infused with fragrant herb scent! Yours seems more generous on the herbs then the restaurant, heehee! Love it !

  4. Bet this tastes good but I will have to look up all the names to see what they are! Diane

  5. Really lots of herbs and green. Hardly know their name. But I have no problem of finish your nasi ulam. Taste super if go with sambal belacan :)

  6. That looks interestingly yummy ! ;D I recognized kacang botol ( besides the basils and lemongrass ) but forgot what's it called back home :P We usually add that when we make soup .

  7. eileen@hundred eighty degreesApril 1, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    This is interesting! I will have to ask my malay colleagues if they know of a place in SG selling this dish, I dont mind to try eating but I doubt I will make it myself..yours look delicious..

  8. what a colourful rice dish-and so much flavour. I never knew this existed before!

  9. i love the foods in here. it makes me hungry and so tasty

  10. Ah, next time come to my house for cekur jantan, cekur betina some more....
    Aiya, that day told u to take some kunyit, dun want. I've got loads of them.

    Love the way you styled this dish, with batik and the colour of the batik matches very well with the dish. Your confinement sarong ah?

  11. Love nasi ulam minus the desiccated coconut. That's cut a lot of work to slice them all...I am wondering if I can be invited over for a meal of nasi ulam when you next cook it:D

  12. Hello twin, hehe! Your nasi ulam is so mouth-watering! I can smell the wonderful fragrance all the way here! Some of the herbs I have seen before, but have yet to try them!
    We shall be identical twins in the next post! HAHAHA!! :)

  13. oh my goodness!!!! I'd been wanting to make Nasi Ulam for eons, a tradition Peranakan dish which is seldom seen nowadays. But its so difficult to assemble all the herbs required for the dish over here in Singapore. Good job, Lena!

  14. Never had nasi ulam before.... I spotted a lot of greens on the rice :O Must be good for bowel system, hehehe!

  15. At first glance, I thought you make Assam Laksa. I would love to eat this Nasi Ulam. Lots of green, sure healhty.

  16. I seldom see Nasi Ulam here in Singapore though there is a substantial Malay community here. Maybe I have not observed hard enough.
    But I definitely like the idea of a rice salad with herbs.

  17. oh this dish is so colourful. i like how you laid out a sarong cloth with the plate for the photo. so does your girl like this dish?

  18. Yours looks better than those I used to eat at the Stadium :) I love nasi ulam but too lazy to chop those herbs coz I will be the only one eating them :))

  19. I never eat this before.. but the presentation look very nice. And there are so much greens in it.. sure good for detox !

  20. This dish will be very challenging for me to cook because I have to find so many exotic herbs :P

    Love your presentation. Your Batik fabric is so beautiful :D

  21. Looks so authentic...this is tempting! ;)

  22. gloria: thank you!

    seanL: hi,thank you for telling me the other name for the cabang tiga , appreciate that very much!

    gert: yea, i would be very suprosed if you tell me that you can get the leaves there, argh, balik kampung and eat!!

    bee2:haha! mine also overloaded with the ulam now!

    diane: these are all locally grown herbs which i believe that you wont be able to get it there, toobad that i cant to figure out what are the english names for some of the herbs :(

    vivian: oh yes, that would be tastier with sambal served alongside!

    anne: the kacang botol we also call that four angled beans.

    eileen: i'm sure your malay colleagues know abt this dish, hope you will be able to find some place where they sell nasi ulam so you can have a taste of it.

    daphne: actually very green, it's a very common dish among the malays

    loveforfood: thank you!

    wendy: aiyah, that time i came to your house i never thought want to make this again, that's why. confinement sarong??arhahahhaha!! LOL you make me laugh so hard..sshhhhh!!

    missyblurkit: yes, you can opt not to put in the coconut if you dont like it, just salt and sambal belaca. NOt really that tough slicing the ulam, i cut them in batches ma..

    joyce: yes, my sister..we shall be doing it tomorrow!!

    alan: i understand that some of the herbs and leaves may be difficult to get, otherwise you can just go for the ones that you can find.

    yvonne: yeah, good for the stomach..chinese we say to get rid of the wind..haha!

    sheoh yan: so much green, less oil, yup it is a healthy dish for me.

    tigerfish: i dont seem to see that in the malay stalls too but just from a comment, i know now where a place in ipoh has that. I think normally this is more commonly cooked at homes.

    barb: no lah, they dont like it , too much green for them and also the aroma of the herbs :(

    elin: i didnt know stadium has that, next time i will probably give it a try there. i seldom eat there that's why i dont know.. i only take the ice kacang and the fish balls noodles there.

    joyce@ccooky: thank you! it's believed that those herbs are good for the stomach.

    zoe: dont think you can find the herbs, i wonder if any of the malaysian restaurants serve this there..i doubt unless they put the more common kind of herbs like turmeric, torchgingerbud and basil leaves.

    love2cook: thank you very much!! i love all your malay and curry dishes too!

  23. I've never tried nasi ulam before...will have to remember to try looking for it when I'm in M'sia! Yours looks so fresh and tasty!

  24. wow..wonderfully prepared, Lena. I don't mind having some with sambal belacan too!

  25. that's a lot of herbs used for the rice; must be super fragrant =)

  26. i love the texture of this- the rice the herbs- it has to be simply amazing

  27. Wow Lena, I never had rice with so many kind of herbs...looks awesome and would love to give this rice dish a try. Beautiful pictures!
    Thanks for this tasty recipe and hope you have a great week :)

  28. What an incredible blend of fragrance, Lena. I would never think to put so many herbs in one dish. I can only imagine the beckoning aromas:)

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  29. Hi Lena, love this ulam. Have not had it can't remember when. Can almost get the lovely scent of all that you have put in.
    You by any chance have Nyonya genes in you? Ha ha....
    With a lady like you, or as a wife, it'll be fun as well a mystery as to whats for dinner.
    Every day and night a mystery.
    Have fun and stay young.

  30. Whoa, where did you get those green herbs? It's not easy to get them here at the south. Kodus! I always wanted to try the ulam rice.
    Thanks for sharing it.

  31. I can smell the fragrance of this rice or is it my imagination? You are killing me. LOL!

  32. I like this nasi ulam but kids don't appreciate it, have to wait they grow bit then I can make this, I just drool over here.

  33. fern: thanks. yeah next time when you're back shld look out for it and see if you like them.

    jen: that would be so good with sambal belacan!

    lala: very fragrant but i think not everybody can take this kind of aroma.

    jessica: thanks, hope that your boy is getting better. btw, i hv already read the article in maureen's blog, that's a wonderful write up abut you!

    juliana: thanks, really a lot of herbs this time, the last time i did that, i didnt put in as much so the flavour was less intense. You have a great day too!

    Louise: there really a lot of herbs here and each of these herbs have their own aroma, it's a wonderful dish if everyone can take its flavour.

    lee: hey, you're back, hahaha! i must go and chk out your latest post later today!

    kristy: i got them from a malay stall at the wet market. It's not easy to get it there..maybe they have different kinds of herbs over in jhb as i understand some states have their own version of nasi ulam.

    quaypo: no, it's not your imagination, the smell is coming out thru the pictures. LOL!!

    sonia: true, i think kids over here just dont like eating veggies that much! Moreover, this comes with herbs infused flavour.

    barry/meta: you're welcome!thanks for dropping by to read.

  34. That is so cool, I love this post. I have some turmeric growing in pots and in my yard. I didn't know you could use the leaves raw tossed in some rice. I want to try making this...of course I will only be able to get about half the greens, and herbs that you were able to get. Looks like a fun challenge. This dish is beautiful Lena!

  35. This is to die for. I love this, one of my favourite food but I could find only one of the ingredients here in Netherlands, so maybe I will just admire this on the screen.

  36. Saya malu. I am more familiar with western herb but not our local herb. Nanti balik kena belajar. Looks good. Banyak khasiat tu. Maybe good for maintain awek muda also ;-).

  37. Lyndsey, i remember you saying that you have turmeric leaves in your garden and i also told you that it's used in one of our salad here..this is the one.

    desperate housewife: yeah, i know it's just too difficult to get these ingredients there

    MKGirl: jangan malu lah..i pun baru belajar all these different herbs here. maintain muda?? betul ke ini? then must eat more! LOL!!

  38. Hi there Lena, I was googling for nasi ulam and came across your mouth-watering post. Gonna try making this for buka puasa today. I only have some of the ingredients but let's see how it turns Out. Thanks for the inspiration!