Embracing the plant-based lifestyle in Malaysia

Nasi Oo-Laa-Lam (Malay Herb Rice)

Nasi Oo-Laa-Lam (Malay Herb Rice)

I normally shy away from making Malay food, since it is not my territory. But it would’ve been criminal to at least not give Nasi Ulam a shot!

Nasi is ‘rice’ in Bahasa, and Ulam refers to a traditional spread of selected local leaves and herbs, eaten fresh with a side of homemade sambal (Malay-style chili paste).

Malay cuisine has a reputation for being very fattening. This makes Nasi Ulam stand out for its kaleidoscope of taste and health benefits attributed to its raw ingredients – it is essentially a Salad Rice!

My version of this delicate dish features rice cooked in coconut milk, ginger and turmeric. Oo-laa-lam!

Here’s what I’ve found out about some of the herbs featured in this recipe.

Daun Kesum (chinese knotweed) aka Laksa leaves – powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and seems to boost brain power
Daun Kaduk (Betel Leaf) – high in anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory
Coriander – Vitamin K (Good in blood clotting) and Vitamin C
Thai Basil – antibacterial – fights flu and cold
Lemongrass – detoxifying, anti-cancer, helps digestion

I was extremely lucky with my first try at making Nasi Ulam. What was surprising was that my Danish husband loved it too!

Harnessing the natural power of cheap, plentiful local produce, this labour-intensive dish is very well worth making. Set aside some kitchen time, enjoy the beautiful scents of these herbs, and prepare to be rewarded big time!

Nasi Oo-Laa-Lam (Malay Herb Rice)

August 2, 2017
: 2-3
: 25 min
: 55 min
: Moderate - Hard

The potent powers of fresh Malay herbs (Ulam) combine with fragrant coconut rice for a uniquely Malaysian vegan experience.


  • RICE:
  • 1 cup Brown rice
  • 1 cm ginger stem
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • ULAM:
  • 1 cup long beans, chopped finely
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup four angle beans, chopped finely
  • A few stalks of:
  • Coriander,
  • Thai Basil,
  • Polygonum (kesum),
  • Betel leaves (Kaduk),
  • Mint (optional),
  • and Lesser Galangal leaves (optional)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stalk ginger flower
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 7-8 shallots, diced finely
  • Cooking oil
  • Step 1 Rinse rice and put into a pot.
  • Step 2 Blend all other rice ingredients in a blender.
  • Step 3 Pour blended mixture over rice and put pot on high heat. Once it hits boiling point, lower to medium heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes in total.
  • Step 4 Shallow fry the shallots in cooking oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes until golden brown.
  • Step 5 Blanch the long beans, four angle beans and bean sprouts.
  • Step 6 Chop the herbs, ginger flower and lemongrass separately and finely.
  • Step 7 Once the rice is done, place in the middle of individual plates, surrounded by the beans, beansprouts and herbs. Sprinkle grated coconut and fried shallots over rice.
  • Step 8 Serve immediately.

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