New Recipes

Nasi Ulam (Malaysian Mixed Herb Rice)

Nasi Ulam (Malaysian Mixed Herb Rice)
Nasi Ulam (Malaysian Mixed Herb Rice) pictures (4 of 7)

I started Rasa Malaysia in 2006 with the mission to promote Malaysian cuisine to the world. Today, I am so thrilled to announce that I am working with Malaysia Kitchen New York City to celebrate and evangelize the rich legacy of Malaysian food. I will be sharing two classic Malaysian recipes with Rasa Malaysia readers, and would like to kick off the Malaysia Kitchen for the World program with nasi ulam, or Malaysian mixed herb rice, a much celebrated traditional recipe for many Malaysians.

Nasi ulam is a Malay dish, and a staple to many people in Malaysia, especially for the Malays and Nyonya/Peranakan (or Straits-born Chinese). As a multi-ethnic country makes up of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Eurasians, nasi ulam is much loved by many denizens of Malaysia, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or origin. The reason is very simple: there is nothing not to like about nasi ulam. It is utterly delicious, aromatic, healthy, and extremely appetizing, and great with a side dish of meat or fish. What’s more, it can be a complete meal on its own.

Nasi Ulam

Nasi means rice in Malay, while ulam means the assortment of herbs served during meal times. In general terms, the ulam is equivalent to “salad” and they are usually eaten with sambal belacan, which is the national condiment of Malaysia. However, in nasi ulam, the herbs are sliced finely and mixed with rice and other ingredients. The exotic, earthy, and aromatic nuance of the different herbs, paired with rice and dry-toasted shredded coconut or kerisik yield a richly fragrant and scrumptious concoction that is uniquely Malaysian.

In my childhood days, I used to watch my Nyonya grandmother preparing this dish. My mother and aunt would help her slicing the many different types of herbs: daun kadok (wild betel leaf), daun kesom (polygonum leaf or Vietnamese mint leaf), daun kunyit (turmeric leaf), bunga kantan (torch ginger flower), kaffir lime leaf, mint, etc. Many of these herbs are grown in our family’s garden, so it was just a matter of harvesting them from the garden. However, some of these exotic herbs are almost impossible to find out of Malaysia, so I have improvised my recipe to make it more accessible to you. A trip to your local Asian stores (try Vietnamese or Thai grocery stores) will enable you to gather all the ingredients needed for the dish.

Nasi Ulam

Making nasi ulam is not hard, but it does take some time. I can assure you that the end result is rewarding, as once you have tried this, especially toying with the interplay of the different herbs in this mixed herb rice, you will be instantly converted. Enjoy!

About Malaysia Kitchen for the World

Malaysia Kitchen for the World is a global initiative of the Malaysian government that aims to educate and inform consumers about Malaysian cuisine and Malaysian restaurants throughout the world. The New York campaign seeks to boost interest among American food lovers to try Malaysian cuisine and visit Malaysian restaurants in the New York metropolitan area as well as in other locations in the United States. The program also seeks to facilitate local chefs and restaurateurs to introduce Malaysian cuisine at their establishments.


The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) is Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency. Established in March 1993 as a statutory agency under the Ministry of International Trade Industry (MITI), MATRADE is responsible for assisting Malaysian companies to succeed in the international market by developing and promoting Malaysia’s exports to the world. MATRADE is the lead agency for the Malaysia Kitchen campaign.

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32 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Marius K.

    Last time I had this wonderful rice and herb concoction was years ago, back in college at a Malay’s friends home. Thanks for including this simple, delicious, yet authentic Malaysian recipe that I almost forgotten.

  2. Mei

    Thanks for posting the recipe for this dish. It brings back memory of my childhood. Back then, I didn’t know how to appreciate the flavor in this dish but now I can’t wait to try making this for myself. Missing Malaysian food a lot.

  3. Siew

    Missing this dish. Reminded me of home. Thank you Rasa Malaysia for bring back a childhood dish. Will be making it home away from home.

  4. NYMY

    I have always wondered why you are not working with Malaysia Kitchen. Great partnership! This nasi ulam recipe looks like a great Malaysian comfort food. From your recipe and pictures, it reminded me the only time I had this was at a nyonya restaurtant. But I think the owner called it nasi kerabu? Got to get to grocery store this weekend and pick up some ingredients. Nasi ulam party coming up!

  5. Great job, Bee. I know more people from around the world now recognize some quintessential Malaysian and Nyonya dishes because of you. I love the herby mixture in this rice. To be honest, I’ve never tried this either, being in Malaysia all my life. Now I must either make it or seek it out to satisfy my curiosity.

  6. Julie

    Thanks for sharing the link to Malaysia Kitchen. Found out they are having a street market event in Bryant Park! Let’s hope it’s not going to be freezing cold to enjoy the open market experience.

  7. Kelantan Gal

    I didn’t know you can find fpdaun kadok in the US. What is it called in the shop?

    Also, what is the Daun kesom called in Vietnamese? Is it Rao Ram?

  8. Nik

    Hi! Thank you for your recipes, especially other than Malay’s, I do find them easy to understand and almost all of what I’ve tried (cooked) do taste what I’ve imagined. I do like to ask a question actually, do you have any substitute for Shaoxing wine or rice wine for the cooking? If there is/are substitute for it (non-alcohol type), I would really like to know. Thank you.

  9. Hi Ms. Bee,
    Thank you for sharing a wealth of information on Malaysian cuisine and culture. I am a culinary enthusiast and I am from Malaysia. Late last year was my first time back to Malaysia and I finally got to reunite with my family after 20 years of absence. Meanwhile, I have been living vicariously through your blog, reconnecting with Malaysian recipes and absorbing the most I can, your delicious recipes, to help recreate my lost Malaysian feel, here in New York.
    I am deeply grateful for your contributions and look forward to reading more from you.

  10. Amy

    HI Bee,

    I like to have my rice warm so when you mix it with the herbs, you can really smell the herbs. Love this dish. Always get it when we go back for a holiday in Penang.

  11. Nice Recipe! Amazing photos! I like short grain rice over long grain rice. Will to let the rice stay in fridge overnight to dry (seems like many fried rice technique can apply here as well)

  12. Debbie

    Congrats on your appointment. I stumbled on your website a few years ago and when I want to verify recipes, I would come to your website. I am a Penangite living in Singapore and I don’t cook very much but love to look at your recipes. It reminds me of my past and of some ingredients I may have missed out or some dish I may hope to try, when I have the time.

  13. Congratulations on the expansion of Rasa Malaysia into Malaysia Kitchen for the World. Your success is proof that more and more people are learning how wonderful Malay cuisine really is, and how well-presented your site is.

  14. Evelyn Ng

    My mum does a superversion of this with addition of sambal belachan. She also substitutes the dried shrimps with salted fish(ikan kurau).
    I really love the taste.

  15. kpks

    Interesting. We have a very similar dish here in south India with peanuts instead of the shrimp, coriander and curry leaves instead of ur picks – just plain coconut rice. The satvik version has ginger and asafoetida but no shallots/garlic

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