KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Nasi lemak, a Malaysian favourite and one of its national dishes, is being celebrated in a Google doodle today.
The 40-second animated titled “Celebrating Nasi Lemak” featured the preparation of the ubiquitous dish.
The video showed the coconut-milk infused rice being prepared with the traditional basic condiments of hard boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers and sambal with anchovies and peanuts, and served in various ways, with a sunny-side up egg, chicken, and wrapped in banana leaves.
The official Google Doodle page describes the “humble delicacy” as a “rich, fragrant and spicy dish” that is the unofficial national dish of Malaysia, widely eaten year-round, and particularly at breakfast time.
It is believed to have originated as a hearty farmer’s breakfast on the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula, and tells a story of how it got its name.
The popular belief is that Nasi Lemak got its name from the ingredient used to make it; nasi is rice, while lemak which translates to fat or enrichment in reference to the use of coconut milk in which the rice is cooked.
But according to one of the legends surrounding the dish, the daughter of a widow named Mak Kuntum accidentally spilt coconut milk into the rice pot one day and was discovered.
“What did you cook?” Mak Kuntum asked and her daughter answered: “Nasi le, Mak!”
“There are many variations of the dish across the multi-ethnic melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other indigenous and imported cultures, but the fundamental recipe — featured in today’s video Doodle — is rice cooked with santan or coconut milk and flavored with pandan leaf and galangal root, served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), crispy peanuts (skin on), sliced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and sambal (hot sauce) or a splash of tamarind juice, with an optional piece of fried chicken or beef rendang on the side.”
“Sold at roadside stalls wrapped in a “bungkus” of banana leaf or brown paper, nasi lemak is so popular it’s also eaten for lunch and dinner, too!” Google said on its page.
In Malaysia, people across all races and social classes tend to enjoy the dish — from the roadside stalls selling the basic “nasi lemak bungkus” for RM2, to gourmet nasi lemak with lobster, it is feted by all levels of society.
The dish is also popular in neighbouring countries and quarrels have broken out on the internet as citizens of several South-east Asian member states like Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand which each have similar iterations of the dish, have tried to stake claim on nasi lemak.
In Indonesia, a similar dish is popular in Riau, and a version of it is called nasi uduk in Jakarta, nasi gurih in Aceh and in Java, nasi liwet. They also used coconut milk rice with a variety of condiments and toppings unique to them.
It is also popular in Singapore, where it is essentially the same dish but also with different side dishes like omelette, fried chicken and curry.
In southern Thailand, where there is a sizeable Malay community, nasi lemak is served with tom yam sauce.
A Google doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on the search engine’s homepage that commemorates holidays, events, achievements, and people.
This is not the first time Google doodle has celebrated Malaysia’s icons. Previously, it has commemorated Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Malaysia’s independence day, famed director Yasmin Ahmad’s birthday, Malaysian football player Datuk Mokhtar Dahari’s birthday and Malaysia’s 14th general election among others.