Nasi Kandar Recipe: How to Make Authentic Nasi Kandar at Home

Nasi Kandar Recipe

If you’ve ever been to Penang, you’ll have most likely been drawn into one of the many Nasi Kandar stalls spread across the foodie town. Although initially sold as breakfast food, Penang knows no time bounds.

You can get this dish for lunch, dinner, supper or even at two in the morning! Nasi Kandar is a dish featuring white rice, a mix of curries, vegetables and fried meats of your choice. It’s every Malaysian’s dream meal! With time, various forms of this Malaysian staple has begun to surface, wherein some variations of this dish serve their side dishes in separate melamine bowls unlike the traditional version of this dish which serve everything on a single plate. Nevertheless, one thing remains the same: the mix of curry sauce is always poured generously over the rice.


Origin of Nasi Kandar

The history behind the name of this dish is practical and straight to the point. Nasi means rice while the Malay verb kandar is the act of carrying things across the shoulders.

In past years, Tamil Muslim merchants who migrated to Malaysia would sell this dish off their backs. They used to sell and transport this dish using bamboo sticks- set a top their shoulders with two heavy buckets weighing the pole on either end.

Can you imagine walking for hours on end with that kind of weight on you? Perhaps that’s why the dish has managed to become Penang’s hallmark food. With adversity comes perseverance!

Nasi Kandar Recipe: How to Make Authentic Nasi Kandar at Home

Recipe by LokaTasteDifficulty: Moderate


Prep time


Cooking time





Nasi Kandar, a popular dish in Penang is a rice-based meal. In most shops, you’ll see the vendors pile on multiple curries of your choice, stir-fried vegetables and most notably a big piece of spicy deep-fried chicken. If you are a fan of spicy curry food, Nasi Kandar is to die for!


  • 1/2 chicken (cut into 8 pieces)

  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder

  • ½ tablespoon chilli powder

  • 2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tomatoes (cut into four)

  • 1 Pandan leaf (quartered)

  • 3 strings of curry leaves

  • 2 stalks of coriander (cut into 4 pieces)

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 3 anise star

  • 5 cardamom

  • 2 cups uncooked rice

  • 2 large onion sliced thinly

  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon

  • 2 tablespoon palm sugar

  • 1/2 cup oil

  • 2 packets beef curry powder

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 onion

  • 2 inches of ginger


  • First, prepare the fried chicken. In a large bowl marinate the chicken with the turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Cover the bowl and set aside for a minimum of 30 minutes. Then, prepare a wok with oil for deep frying. On medium-high heat cook the chicken for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel once cooked.
  • Next, prepare the rice- wash and cook the rice in a rice cooker.
  • Reserve 2 tablespoons of the oil used for the fried chicken and discard the rest. On medium-low heat, sauté the onion until slightly brown. Next, add in the pandan leaves, curry leaves, cinnamon, anise star and cardamom. Stir fry until fragrant.
  • Next, add the curry paste to the wok and stir well. Pour in the water and let the curry simmer for about 15 minutes. Then, stir in the thick soy sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, bouillon and salt to taste.
  • Let the curry thicken to your preference before adding in a fresh quartered tomato and coriander leaves.

Ways to Enjoy Nasi Kandar

This dish is best eaten while it’s hot. So, grab your plate and pile in the rice. Next, add a generous serving of the curry and a side of crispy fried chicken. If you’d like, you could whip up a quick batch of stir-fried cabbage that’s so easy to make!

Explore for more wholesome Malaysian recipes.


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