Nasi Kerabu: A Culinary Journey Through Malaysian Flavors - Today Resepi Ideas

Nasi Kerabu: A Culinary Journey Through Malaysian Flavors

In the vibrant tapestry of Malaysian cuisine, Nasi Kerabu stands as a culinary masterpiece, a symphony of flavors and textures that captivates the senses. This unique rice dish, originating from the northeastern state of Kelantan, has become a symbol of Malaysian cultural heritage, cherished for its aromatic blue rice, assortment of side dishes, and tantalizing budu sauce.

Nasi Kerabu distinguishes itself from other rice dishes with its vibrant blue hue, achieved through the use of bunga telang (butterfly pea flower). This natural coloring agent imparts a delicate floral aroma and adds a touch of visual intrigue to the dish.

The rice is complemented by a medley of side dishes, each contributing its own distinct flavor and texture. From the crispy fried chicken to the refreshing kerabu ulam (herb salad) and the fiery sambal, every element of Nasi Kerabu comes together in perfect harmony.

Introduction to Nasi Kerabu

Nasi Kerabu is a colorful and aromatic rice dish originating from the northeastern Malaysian state of Kelantan. It is considered a national dish of Malaysia and is also popular in neighboring countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. The name “Nasi Kerabu” literally translates to “blue rice,” referring to the striking blue color of the rice, which is achieved by cooking it with the petals of the butterfly pea flower.

What sets Nasi Kerabu apart from other rice dishes is its unique combination of flavors and textures. The blue rice is typically served with a variety of side dishes, including fried chicken, fish, vegetables, and a spicy budu sauce made from fermented fish.

The dish is also garnished with a variety of herbs and flowers, such as torch ginger flowers, kaffir lime leaves, and ulam raja, which add a refreshing and aromatic touch.

Nasi Kerabu: A Symbol of Malaysian Cuisine

Nasi Kerabu is not just a delicious dish; it also holds cultural significance in Malaysia. It is often served at special occasions and celebrations, such as weddings and festivals. The dish is also a symbol of the diverse culinary traditions of Malaysia, as it incorporates elements from various ethnic groups in the country.

The blue rice, for example, is a nod to the indigenous Kelantanese people, while the budu sauce is a staple in Malay cuisine. The variety of side dishes and garnishes also reflects the multicultural influences that have shaped Malaysian cuisine.

Essential Ingredients and Preparation

Nasi kerabu is a colorful and flavorful Malaysian dish that combines aromatic rice with a variety of side dishes. Here’s a comprehensive list of ingredients and step-by-step preparation instructions to create this delightful dish.

The preparation of nasi kerabu involves soaking the rice, roasting peanuts, making the flavorful budu sauce, and preparing various side dishes.


  • Fragrant Rice: Use high-quality fragrant rice like jasmine rice or basmati rice for the best aroma and texture.
  • Soaking: Rinse the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for at least 30 minutes to soften the grains and reduce cooking time.
  • Cooking: Cook the rice according to the package instructions or use the absorption method: add 1.5 cups of water for every cup of rice, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.


  • Roasting: Roast the peanuts in a pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown and fragrant. This enhances their flavor and texture.
  • Cooling: Allow the roasted peanuts to cool completely before using them in the dish.

Budu Sauce

  • Ingredients: Prepare the budu sauce by combining fermented anchovy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili peppers in a bowl.
  • Mixing: Mix the ingredients thoroughly until a smooth and flavorful sauce is formed.

Side Dishes

  • Cucumbers: Cut cucumbers into thin slices or julienne strips.
  • Fried Chicken: Prepare crispy fried chicken pieces or use store-bought fried chicken.
  • Fried Fish: Pan-fry or deep-fry fish fillets or whole fish until golden brown and crispy.
  • Pickles: Use a variety of pickles like acar timun (cucumber pickle), acar bawang (onion pickle), or acar nanas (pineapple pickle) to add tangy and crunchy flavors.
  • Salad: Prepare a simple salad with shredded cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes.
  • Sambal: Serve sambal, a spicy chili sauce, as an optional condiment.

Cooking the Rice

Nasi Kerabu’s distinct blue color and fragrant aroma come from the use of bunga telang (butterfly pea flower) and pandan leaves during the cooking process. Choosing the right type of rice is crucial, with fragrant varieties like Basmati or Jasmine rice being popular choices.

The cooking method for Nasi Kerabu involves steaming the rice with the bunga telang and pandan leaves. This technique infuses the rice with the vibrant blue color and delicate flavors of the natural ingredients. Here are some tips for achieving the perfect texture and flavor:

Selecting the Rice

  • Choose fragrant rice varieties like Basmati or Jasmine rice, known for their distinct aroma and long, slender grains.
  • Rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking to remove any impurities and excess starch.

Cooking Method

  • In a large pot or rice cooker, combine the rinsed rice, water, salt, and a few drops of blue pea flower extract. The amount of water should be slightly less than the usual ratio for cooking rice, as the bunga telang and pandan leaves will release some moisture.
  • Tie the pandan leaves into a knot and add them to the pot along with the bunga telang flowers. These natural ingredients will infuse the rice with their vibrant color and delicate flavors.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
  • Once the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and serve it warm or at room temperature.

Assembling the Nasi Kerabu

Nasi Kerabu is typically assembled by layering the blue-tinted rice with various side dishes, creating a colorful and flavorful dish. The traditional method involves using a banana leaf as a serving platter, but you can also use a plate or bowl.

Layering the Nasi Kerabu

  • Start by placing a generous portion of the blue rice at the bottom of the serving platter.
  • Add a layer of fried chicken or fish, followed by a layer of pickled vegetables.
  • Top with a layer of fresh herbs and vegetables, such as cucumber, tomatoes, and long beans.
  • Drizzle with the spicy budu sauce and sprinkle with toasted peanuts.

Creative Presentation Ideas

  • For a visually appealing presentation, consider using a ring mold to shape the rice into a tower. Layer the side dishes inside the mold, creating a colorful and textured dish.
  • Another creative idea is to serve the Nasi Kerabu in individual portions, using small bowls or cups. This allows each person to customize their own dish with their preferred side dishes and condiments.
  • You can also use edible flowers or herbs to garnish the Nasi Kerabu, adding a touch of elegance and freshness to the dish.

Side Dishes and Accompaniments

Nasi Kerabu is typically served with a variety of side dishes and accompaniments, each contributing unique flavors and textures to the overall dish. These side dishes range from savory fried chicken to refreshing kerabu ulam and spicy sambal.

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is a classic side dish for Nasi Kerabu. The chicken is marinated in a blend of spices and herbs, then coated in a crispy batter and fried until golden brown. The result is a tender and juicy chicken with a flavorful crust.

Recipe: Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil


  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken, buttermilk, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and black pepper.
  • Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then coat it in the buttermilk mixture. Repeat the process once more.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Fry the chicken in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels and serve hot.


  • For a spicy fried chicken, add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the flour mixture.
  • For a crispy fried chicken, double the amount of cornstarch in the flour mixture.
  • For a healthier fried chicken, bake the chicken in a preheated oven at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

6. Regional Varieties of Nasi Kerab

Nasi kerbau is a traditional dish originating from the northeastern state of Kelantant in Malaysia. It is typically served with various side dishes, including budu (fermented fish sauce), serunding (spiced and shredded meat), and ulam (a selection of fresh and aromatic vegetables).

However, there are several regional variations of nasi kerbau found throughout Malaysia. These variations often feature unique ingredients or cooking techniques that reflect the local culture and traditions.

Nasi Kerbau Terengganu

Nasi kerbau Terengganu is a variation of the dish that is popular in the eastern state of Terengganu. It is typically served with a variety of side dishes, including ikan tongkol (mackerel), gulai tempoyak (fermented durian gravy), and ulam-ulam (fresh vegetables).

One of the unique ingredients used in nasi kerbau Terengganu is bunga kیریpecing (torch flower). This flower is known for its fragrant and slightly bitter taste, which adds a unique flavor to the dish. The rice is also cooked with turmeric and lemanggi leaves, which give it a bright yellow color and a distinct flavor.

Health Benefits of Nasi Kerabu

Nasi Kerabu offers a vibrant symphony of flavors and colors, but did you know it also boasts an impressive array of health benefits? This traditional Malay dish is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Let’s delve into the health-promoting properties of Nasi Kerabu and explore ways to make it even healthier without compromising its delectable taste.

Nutritional Value of Nasi Kerabu

Nasi Kerabu is a well-balanced meal that provides a diverse range of nutrients. The fragrant blue rice, cooked with butterfly pea flowers, is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids, which help protect cells from damage. The accompanying side dishes, such as ulam (fresh herbs and vegetables), budu (fermented fish paste), and sambal (spicy chili sauce), are brimming with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial probiotics.

Health Benefits of Nasi Kerabu’s Ingredients

The ingredients used in Nasi Kerabu offer a multitude of health benefits:

  • Blue Rice: The butterfly pea flowers used to color the rice are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases.
  • Ulam: Fresh herbs and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which promote overall health and well-being.
  • Budu: Fermented fish paste is a good source of protein and probiotics, which can support gut health and immunity.
  • Sambal: Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a compound that has been shown to boost metabolism and aid in weight management.

Making Nasi Kerabu Healthier

While Nasi Kerabu is inherently healthy, there are a few simple tweaks you can make to enhance its nutritional value even further:

  • Choose brown rice instead of white rice: Brown rice is a whole grain that is higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice.
  • Incorporate more ulam into your meal: Ulam is a great way to add extra vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your plate.
  • Use budu sparingly: Budu can be high in sodium, so it’s best to use it in moderation.
  • Make your own sambal at home: Homemade sambal allows you to control the ingredients and adjust the spiciness to your preference.

By making these simple changes, you can create a Nasi Kerabu that is not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. So, indulge in this colorful and flavorful dish guilt-free, knowing that you’re doing your body good.

Cultural Significance and Traditions

nasi kerabu recipe

Nasi Kerabu holds a special place in Malaysian society, transcending its culinary appeal and becoming an integral part of cultural identity and traditions.

In Kelantan and Terengganu, Nasi Kerabu is often served during traditional ceremonies and celebrations, symbolizing unity and communal harmony. It is a staple dish at weddings, festivals, and religious gatherings, bringing people together to share a delicious meal and celebrate special occasions.

Anecdotes and Stories

  • In the rural villages of Kelantan, Nasi Kerabu is a symbol of hospitality and generosity. When guests arrive, they are often greeted with a plate of Nasi Kerabu, signifying warmth and welcome.
  • During the annual ‘Kenduri Kampung’ (village feast), Nasi Kerabu is the centerpiece of the communal meal. Families and neighbors gather to share this iconic dish, strengthening bonds and fostering a sense of community.

Presentation and Serving Suggestions

nasi kerabu recipe

The vibrant colors and diverse textures of Nasi Kerabu lend themselves beautifully to creative presentation. Here are some ideas to make your Nasi Kerabu a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds:

Plating Techniques:

  • Individual Portions: Serve each portion of Nasi Kerabu on a separate plate, arranging the rice in a mound and surrounding it with the various side dishes and accompaniments. This allows diners to customize their plates and enjoy the different flavors and textures.
  • Multi-Tiered Presentation: For a more dramatic presentation, use a multi-tiered serving platter or cake stand. Arrange the rice on the bottom tier and place the side dishes and accompaniments on the upper tiers. This creates a visually appealing display that showcases the variety of ingredients in Nasi Kerabu.
  • Nasi Kerabu Boats: Hollow out small cucumbers or bell peppers and fill them with Nasi Kerabu. Top with a dollop of budu sauce and a sprinkle of fried shallots. These edible boats add a fun and unique touch to the dish.

Garnishes and Embellishments:

  • Fresh Herbs: Garnish the Nasi Kerabu with fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, or basil. These herbs add a pop of color and a refreshing flavor to the dish.
  • Fried Shallots: Sprinkle a generous amount of crispy fried shallots over the Nasi Kerabu. The shallots add a crunchy texture and a nutty flavor to the dish.
  • Sambal Sauce: Drizzle a dollop of spicy sambal sauce over the Nasi Kerabu. The sambal adds a fiery kick to the dish and enhances the overall flavor profile.
  • Edible Flowers: For an elegant touch, garnish the Nasi Kerabu with edible flowers such as pansies, nasturtiums, or marigolds. These flowers add a touch of beauty and sophistication to the dish.

Serving Styles:

  • Buffet Style: Serve Nasi Kerabu buffet-style, allowing diners to choose their own side dishes and accompaniments. This is a great option for large gatherings or parties.
  • Family-Style: Serve Nasi Kerabu family-style, with all the side dishes and accompaniments placed in the center of the table. This encourages diners to share and try different combinations of flavors.
  • Individual Bowls: Serve Nasi Kerabu in individual bowls, with each bowl containing a portion of rice and a selection of side dishes and accompaniments. This is a convenient option for quick and easy meals.

Last Word

As we conclude our culinary exploration of Nasi Kerabu, it is evident that this dish is more than just a meal; it is a celebration of Malaysian heritage and diversity. Its vibrant colors, aromatic flavors, and intricate assembly reflect the richness and complexity of Malaysian culture.

Whether enjoyed as a casual lunch or served as a centerpiece at a special occasion, Nasi Kerabu continues to captivate taste buds and hearts alike, solidifying its place as a beloved Malaysian treasure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of Nasi Kerabu in Malaysian cuisine?

Nasi Kerabu holds a special place in Malaysian cuisine as a symbol of cultural heritage and diversity. Its unique blue rice, assortment of side dishes, and budu sauce reflect the rich culinary traditions of Malaysia.

What are the key ingredients used in Nasi Kerabu?

The essential ingredients for Nasi Kerabu include beras pulut (glutinous rice), bunga telang (butterfly pea flower), budu (fermented fish sauce), coconut milk, and a variety of herbs and spices.

How is the blue rice in Nasi Kerabu achieved?

The vibrant blue color of the rice in Nasi Kerabu comes from bunga telang, a natural coloring agent derived from the butterfly pea flower. The flowers are soaked in water, releasing their blue pigment, which is then used to cook the rice.

What are some common side dishes served with Nasi Kerabu?

Typical side dishes served with Nasi Kerabu include ayam goreng (fried chicken), kerabu ulam (herb salad), sambal, salted egg, and budu.

Can Nasi Kerabu be made healthier?

Yes, Nasi Kerabu can be made healthier by using brown rice instead of white rice, opting for grilled or baked chicken instead of fried chicken, and reducing the amount of budu sauce used.

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