served nasi kandar

Nasi Kandar: an Indonesian-Style Recipe

Last Updated on July 9, 2024 by Damian

Welcome to another great rice recipe! Nasi kandar is a mixed dish consisting of various curries, side dishes and spicy additives served with white rice.

In this article, you’ll learn how to make nasi kandar. Choose multiple side dishes to serve with rice and make them prior to cooking rice. Make one or more sambals, a fried side dish like chicken, beef or vegetables and make a curry to flood the rice. Combine all in one dish and serve for a delicious meal.

What is nasi kandar?

Nasi kandar originates from Penang, Malaysia and has been brought to market on a stick or pole by tamil muslim traders. These sticks or poles held containers of food for customers to choose from.

Very popular in Malaysia in these days as the dish has so many flavors and different variations. Each with it’s own level of spiciness.

Commonly build around white rice and served with a meat, fish or vegetable curry. A fried side dish like chicken, fish or beef and a spicy additive like sambal.

served nasi kandar

I chose to make nasi kandar by combining a meat curry from goat meat (gulai kambing), fried chicken meatballs (bakso goreng) and 2 fish sambals, sambal ebi and sambal ikan teri.

Since this is quite a list, I have posted separate recipes to guide you how to make these dishes individually. In this recipe I will roughly go through what to do in which order but for details check out the recipes listed above!

Let’s continue on how to make nasi kandar!

Step 1: Collect the ingredients

served nasi kandar

Nasi kandar

Nasi kandar! A great dish with lots of choices of meats, fish and vegetables!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Malaysian
Servings 4 people


  • 300 g (pandan) rice
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • gulai kambing
  • bakso goreng
  • sambals (ebi and ikan teri)


  • Collect the ingredients
  • Cook the sambals
  • Make the bakso goreng mix
  • Prepare the rice
  • Start cooking nasi kandar
  • Serve nasi kandar
Keyword Nasi kandar

Disclosure: Please note the prep and cook time are based on making step 5 of the meal, I recommend doing the other parts in advance for the best result! Alternatively, you can use store bought products for the sambals and bakso goreng to save even more time.

What to consider when choosing the ingredients

This recipe is quite extensive to make for a small amount of people, make it when you have guests! You have quite the freedom here of course so pick any curry, side dish and sambal you’d like. I basically chose a collection of ingredients previously cooked to combine into nasi kandar!

The gulai kambing already implements a very rich flavor and coloring to the nasi kandar. Some fragrant rice to be flooded by the gulai which I based of my nasi uduk (coming soon) recipe.

The bakso goreng to implement a fried side dish (really amazing!), you could also go for ayam geprek for example, also pretty common practice to use fried chicken with nasi kandar.

Finally, the sambals I really love and since they contain fish I thought they would combine well with the other dishes. Choose any sambal you’d like and make it in advance!

Let’s continue with the next steps to make nasi kandar!

Step 2: Make the sambals

In advance of doing anything else, make sure you have the sambals ready to serve with the dish. I make mine regularly and I have quite a lot of sambal recipes on my site. Check them out in the sambal category section above. The sambal ebi and ikan teri I used conserve for quite a while so you can make them days in advance.

The basic idea is to make a spice paste from chillies, onion and garlic. Fry them in some dried or fresh spices and add the dried shrimps for the sambal ebi and dried anchovies for the sambal ikan teri.

sambal ebi
sambal ikan teri

Check out the recipes via the links above to see a detailed guide on how to make the sambals.

Step 3: Make the bakso goreng mix

Another step that can be taken in advance of serving nasi kandar, one day in advance can be a good suggestion as the mix is easily made and best after a day. Wait longer and the mix might spoil!

The basic idea here is to grind chicken thighs or use store bought ground chicken meat and add a bunch of spices to it. Check out the recipe to see the details, this is only about the mix making, no frying yet!

bakso goreng mixture

This will only be fried in parallel to making the gulai kambing for the best results.

Step 4: Prepare the rice

Once you’ve prepared the sambals and the bakso goreng mix, it’s time to do the last preparation of rice making. Ideally you’d do this one day in advance (and max 2) for the best tasting result. Boil the rice with the ingredients listed, I’ll give a detailed guide on how to do it.

Alternatively, check out the best Korean rice cookers if you want to use a rice cooker instead. I have a post on using pots as well, check it out for more info on the method I’ll be using below.

Properly wash the rice, the water should run clear through it after cleaning. Next is to drain the rice, add the coconut milk and kaffir leaves and add water if necessary. You want the moist level to be one fingertip height above the rice for the best result.

washed rice
cooking rice

Bring this to a boil on medium-high heat. When boiling cover the pan and lower the heat, let it simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes check if the moist has evaporated, if not leave for another few minutes.

Once the moist is gone, turn of the heat and remove the kaffir leaves. Stir the rice with a fork and close the lid immediately after. At this point the rice is ready for resting. Let is cool down to room temperature and refrigerate. All preparations have been made!

Step 5: Start cooking nasi kandar

There we go! All preparations have been made and it’s time to start cooking. This step should be done on the same day as serving for the best result. Set the sambal outside the fridge to reach room temperature.

What needs to be done in this step is to make the gulai kambing, deep-fry the chicken meatballs and reheat the rice.

Start with the gulai kambing, I have written a detailed recipe before so check it out! In parallel to making this recipe, have another pan frying the chicken meatballs as described in the bakso goreng recipe. I would recommend starting frying at the time the gulai kambing is cooking in coconut milk, so late step 3.

The gulai kambing is basically a spice paste fried with the goat meat and later cooked in coconut milk to create a very rich tasting goat curry. Try to finish the gulai kambing and the bakso goreng simultaneously and reheat the rice at this time!

I can recommend the microwave for reheating the rice as the easiest way to do the time management.

bakso goreng
gulai kambing

Step 6: Serve nasi kandar

If all 3 (rice, bakso goreng and gulai kambing) components are hot and the sambals have reached room temperature (or microwaved as well), you will be ready to serve! Quite and extensive recipe as I said, quite some work but what a result! This will definitely satisfy your guests!

served nasi kandar

Start with some white rice and drain it in gulai kambing! Serve the rest of the dishes on the side and look at that palate!

You could serve with some fried onions, fresh tomatoes, half lemons or limes, fresh chillies, all your choice!

Throw in some other side dishes and sambals if you’d like:

I hope you like this recipe, let me know what you made and please leave a rating!



Does Singapore have Nasi Kandar?

Yes, Singapore does have Nasi Kandar. Some examples of popular restaurants are ABC Nasi Kandar restaurant and Marhaba Murtabak restaurant.

Where is Nasi Kandar from?

Nasi Kandar is originally from Penang in Malaysia.

How to order Nasi Kandar?

You can either order Nasi Kandar in a restaurant or online. You usually get to chose several dishes to accompany a rice dish.

How much is Nasi Kandar?

The price of Nasi Kandar varies depending on the type of dish you are ordering and where you are getting it from. Generally, it ranges from 5-10 eu per plate.

What is the difference between Nasi Padang and Nasi Kandar?

The main difference between the two dishes is that Nasi Padang consists of various dishes served with steamed rice, while in Nasi Kandar there are more spices used and it often comes with coconut milk or curry sauce. In addition, the side dishes served with each type of dish may be different as well.

Who is the owner of Nasi Kandar Pelita?

The owners of the popular chain of restaurants known as ‘Nasi Kandar Pelita’ are Mr Syed Idrus and Mr Yusoff Abdullah.

Is Nasi Kandar healthy?

It depends on what types of ingredients are used to prepare the dish. Generally speaking, there are many options available so one can choose healthier options such as grilled chicken or seafood instead of fried meats to make a healthier version of this dish.

What is ‘Nasi kandar’ in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, ‘Nasikandar’ refers to an old-fashioned Malay-Indian style cuisine that combines elements of both cultures together – featuring curries cooked in rich coconut milk gravy along with side dishes such as aca (fried anchovies) and deep fried tempeh (fermented soybean cakes). This type of cuisine has been around for centuries throughout Malaysia’s history!

Is ‘Nasi kandar’ Indian food?

While ‘Nasi kandar’ was traditionally prepared using Indian culinary techniques such as grinding spices together into a paste, modern variations also include Chinese influences due to its widespread popularity within Malaysia’s multicultural society today! Therefore one could consider it an amalgamation between both cultures rather than solely Indian food alone.

Is Nasi kandar spicy?

It all depends on your preference! Generally speaking most versions tend to be spicier than regular meals due to its range of spices being used but one can always ask for less spice if desired!

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