Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak from The Lotus and the Artichoke MALAYSIA vegan cookbook

In the five weeks that I spent exploring Malaysia, Singapore, and Borneo there were a few dishes that I just had to try whenever I had the chance.

Nasi Lemak is a national favorite – and one of my favorites, too! The name technically means “fatty rice” but “creamy rice” sounds a least a little bit better. Traditionally, as with this recipe, Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in creamy, coconut milk – often along with fresh herbs and spices such as pandan (which you can replace with bay leaves if that’s what you’ve got.) The bright yellow hue comes from turmeric. Though it’s a breakfast dish, it can be eaten at any time of the day, and many variations cross firmly into Savory Culinary Territory. I eat this all times of the day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, whatever!

I tried Nasi Lemak in lots of places: Kuala Lampur, Penang, Malacca, and Singapore.

Inspired by those dishes and their accompaniments – and my own imagination, I’ve created a complete meal set: Coconut Pandan Rice served with stir-fried Lemongrass Ginger Tofu, crunchy, charred Spicy Nuts, and a delicious sweet-chili sauce known as Sambal Belacan.

These are actually four different recipes from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA which I’ve put together in this one post. You can of course substitute or simplify the dishes for a less involved meal set designed how you like it. Nasi Lemak is equally awesome even when it’s just served with the fresh cucumber, lime slices, and nuts. I love going all out and doing the Lemongrass Tofu cubes, too. Also, I find the hot, spicy Samabal Belecan completes the dish fantastically.

How to eat it? Mix it up and eat it with your hands!

Serve this meal set up on a banana leaf, wash your hands, mix everything together, and dive in… wild and forkless. (By the way, frozen banana leaves are often available at your local Asian import grocery shop. Just thaw them, rinse them, and eat off of them.) If you prefer a more modern approach: Make it all, arrange it perfectly on plates, eat it with a fork and spoon. It’s up to you!

Nasi Lemak

Malaysian Coconut Pandan Rice with Lemongrass Ginger Tofu, Spicy Nuts & Sambal Belacan

recipes from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA

serves 3 to 4 / time 60 min

Coconut Pandan Rice:

  • 2 cups (375 g) broken jasmine rice or basmati rice
  • 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) water
  • 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 2 pandan leaves or bay leaves
  • fried onions for garnish
  • 1/2 small cucumber sliced
  • lime slices for garnish
  1. Rinse and drain rice thoroughly.
  2. Bring water and coconut milk to low boil in a medium pot with good lid. Stir in rice, salt, turmeric, and pandan (or bay leaves). Return to simmer. Cover and steam until most liquid is absorbed, 12–15 min. Remove from heat. Stir a few times. Cover and let sit 10 min. Remove and discard leaves before serving.
  3. Garnish with fried onions, cucumber, and lime slices.

Lemongrass Ginger Tofu:

  • 14 oz (400 g) firm tofu cut in cubes or strips
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) pineapple chopped
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass finely chopped
  • 3/4 in (2 cm) fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce (Shoyu)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • fresh coriander or parsley leaves chopped, for garnish
  1. Cut tofu in slabs and wrap in clean kitchen towel. Weight with a heavy cutting board and press out extra moisture, 15–20 min. Unwrap and cut in cubes or strips.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok on medium high heat. Add chopped shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and ground coriander. Fry, stirring constantly, until shallots being to soften and brown, 2–3 min.
  3. Add tofu cubes. Mix well. Fry, stirring regularly, until tofu cubes are golden brown and crispy on the edges, 5–8 min.
  4. Add chopped pineapple, lime (or lemon) juice, soy sauce, and salt. Fry, stirring regularly, another 5–10 min. Remove from heat.

Spicy Nuts:

  • 1/2 cup (50 g) peanuts
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) cashews
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder or paprika ground
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Heat a medium frying pan on medium heat. Dry roast peanuts and cashews, stirring regularly, until light golden brown and dark spots begin to appear, 4–7 min. Do not burn.
  2. Add chili powder (or paprika), sugar and salt. Mix well. Continue to cook another 2–3 min, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted and nuts are well coated. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.

Sambal Belacan:

  • 2–3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 5 large (90 g) red chilies chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce (Shoyu)
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Blend all ingredients in a small food processor or blender until smooth, adding more oil (or some water) as needed.
  2. Heat a small frying pan on medium heat. Add blended spice paste to pan and fry, stirring regularly, until sauce darkens, thickens, and oil separates, 8–12 min.
(available as printed cookbook & ebook in English & German)
Malaysia vegan cookbook cover blockprint

Nasi Lemak from The Lotus and the Artichoke MALAYSIA vegan cookbook

Nasi Lemak

Kokos-Pandanus-Reis mit Zitronengras-Ingwer-Tofu, pikanten Nüssen & Sambal Belacan

Rezepte aus The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA

3 bis 4 Portionen / Dauer 60 Min.

Kokos-Pandanus-Reis:

  • 2 Tassen (375 g) Bruchreis (Jasmin oder Basmati)
  • 1 2/3 Tasse (400 ml) Wasser
  • 1 2/3 Tasse (400 ml) Kokosmilch
  • 1/2 TL Meersalz
  • 1/2 TL Kurkuma gemahlen
  • 2 Pandanus- oder Lorbeerblätter
  • Röstzwiebeln zum Garnieren
  • 1/2 kleine Gurke in Scheiben geschnitten
  • Limettenspalten zum Garnieren
  1. Reis gut spülen und abgießen.
  2. In einem mittelgroßen Topf mit gut schließendem Deckel Wasser und Kokosmilch zum Köcheln bringen. Reis, Salz, Kurkuma und Pandanus– oder Lorbeerblätter einrühren. Erneut zum Köcheln bringen. Abdecken und 12 bis 15 Min. garen, bis der größte Teil der Flüssigkeit absorbiert ist.
  3. Vom Herd nehmen. Einige Male umrühren, abdecken und 10 Min. ziehen lassen. Vor dem Servieren die Blätter entfernen.
  4. Mit Röstzwiebeln, Gurkenscheiben und Limettenspalten garnieren.

Zitronengras-Ingwer-Tofu:

  • 400 g fester Tofu in Würfel oder Scheiben geschnitten
  • 1 1/2 Tassen (200 g) Ananas gehackt
  • 1 EL Pflanzenöl
  • 2 Schalotten fein gehackt
  • 2 Knoblauchzehen fein gehackt
  • 2 Stängel Zitronengras fein gehackt
  • 2 cm frischer Ingwer fein gehackt
  • 1 TL Koriander gemahlen
  • 1 EL Limetten- oder Zitronensaft
  • 1 EL Sojasoße (Shoyu)
  • 1/4 TL Meersalz
  • frisches Koriandergrün oder Petersilie gehackt, zum Garnieren
  1. Tofu in Platten schneiden und in ein sauberes Geschirrtuch wickeln. 15 bis 20 Min. mit einem schweren Schneidebrett beschweren, um überschüssige Flüssigkeit herauszupressen. Auswickeln und in Würfel oder Scheiben schneiden.
  2. In einem großen Topf oder einer großen Pfanne Öl auf mittlerer Flamme erhitzen. Schalotten, Knoblauch, Zitronengras und gemahlenen Koriander hineingeben. 2 bis 3 Min. unter ständigem Rühren anbraten, bis die Schalotten weich werden und zu bräunen beginnen.
  3. Tofuwürfel zugeben und gut umrühren. Unter regelmäßigem Rühren 5 bis 8 Min. braten, bis die Tofuwürfel goldbraun und an den Rändern knusprig sind.
  4. Gehackte Ananas, Limetten– oder Zitronensaft, Sojasoße und Salz einrühren. Weitere 5 bis 10 Min. unter ständigem Rühren braten. Vom Herd nehmen.
  5. Mit gehacktem Koriandergrün oder Petersilie garnieren.

Pikante Nüsse:

  • 1/2 Tasse (50 g) Erdnüsse
  • 1/2 Tasse (50 g) Cashewkerne
  • 1/2 TL Chili- oder Paprikapulver
  • 2 TL Kokosblütenzucker
  • 1/4 TL Meersalz
  1. Eine mittelgroße Pfanne auf mittlerer Flamme erhitzen. Erdnüsse und Cashewkerne 4 bis 7 Min. darin rösten, bis sie leicht goldbraun sind und sich braune Flecken bilden. Nicht anbrennen lassen.
  2. Chili– oder Paprikapulver, Zucker und Salz zugeben und gut umrühren. 2 bis 3 weitere Minuten unter ständigem Rühren rösten, bis der Zucker schmilzt und die Nüsse gut mit der Gewürzmischung überzogen sind. Vom Herd nehmen und abkühlen lassen.

Sambal Belacan:

  • 2–3 EL Pflanzenöl
  • 5 große (90 g) rote Chilischoten gehackt
  • 2 Knoblauchzehen gehackt
  • 1 EL Sojasoße (Shoyu)
  • 1 EL Reisessig
  • 1 EL Limetten- oder Zitronensaft
  • 1 EL Kokosblütenzucker
  • 1/4 TL Meersalz
  1. Alle Zutaten in einer kleinen Küchenmaschine oder einem kleinen Mixer glatt pürieren. Öl nach und nach je nach Bedarf zugeben (oder mehr Wasser).
  2. Eine kleine Bratpfanne auf mittlerer Flamme erhitzen. Gewürzpastein die Pfanne geben und 8 bis 12 Min. unter ständigem Rühren reduzieren, bis die Soße dunkel wird, eindickt und das Öl sich trennt.

Vegane Rezepte aus The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA

The Lotus and the Artichoke - MALAYSIA Kochbuch Cover

Quinoa Tomato Avocado with Carrot Ginger Sesame

Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad - Carrot Ginger Sesame Dressing - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Here’s a quick and healthy vegan recipe for one of my favorite salads. It’s great for lunch on its own, or as an appetizer before a soup or lighter meal. Instead of quinoa, you can use other grains like couscous or bulgar, or use the dressing, avocado and tomato on fresh greens, like spinach or arugula.

Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad - Carrot Ginger Sesame Dressing - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Quinoa-Tomaten-Avocado-Salat mit Möhren-Ingwer-Dressing

3 bis 4 Portionen / Dauer 25 Min.

  • 1 Tasse / 180 g Quinoa
  • 2 Tassen / 480 ml Wasser
  • 1/4 TL Salz
  • 1/2 Avocado gewürfelt
  • 1 Tomate gehackt
  • Sprossenmix zum Garnieren

Möhren-Ingwer-Dressing:

  • 1 Möhre geschält, klein geschnitten
  • 1 cm frischer Ingwer gehackt
  • 1/4 Tasse / 30 g Sonnenblumensamen geröstet, gemahlen
  • 2 EL Sesamsamen geröstet, gemahlen
  • 2 EL Olivenöl
  • 2 EL Zitronensaft
  • 1 EL Agavensirup
  • 1 EL Sojasoße
  • 1/4 Tasse / 60 ml Wasser
  • 1/4 TL Salz
  1. In einem kleinen Topf 2 Tassen Wasser zum Kochen bringen. Salz und Quinoa hinzufügen. Abgedeckt 20 Min. dämpfen. Topf vom Herd nehmen, Quinoa mit Gabel lockern. Abgedeckt 10 Min. ziehen lassen.
  2. Alle Dressing-Zutaten in Küchenmaschine zerkleinern. Wasser am Ende hinzufügen. Wassermenge je nach gewünschter Konsistenz anpassen.
  3. Quinoa auf Tellern anrichten, Tomaten- und Avocadostücke darauf verteilen.
  4. Dressing darüber geben und mit frischen Sprossen oder Kräutern garnieren.

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Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup

Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup

(2.0 recipe version, updated December 8, 2020)

I’ve been making variations of this vegan Carrot Ginger soup recipe for over fifteen years. The inspiration for the recipe came from my friend Monika, a former co-worker from South Africa whom I met when we were part-time English teachers at Berlitz Language School in our early years in a quite different, far less gentrified and commercial Berlin.

It’s been years since I heard from Monika– also a passionate cook, polyglot, and world adventurer. She had fantastic stories of doing research work with primates in the rainforests of Central America, and we regularly talked travel, came up with new destinations, and talked about unconventional life ambitions and all the wild characters in our lives. Whenever I make this soup, I always think of her and the early 2000s here in Berlin… meeting in sparsely-furnished Altbau flats (for a while she didn’t have a fridge and kept perishable food items outside the kitchen window in the cold), inviting our international friends, telling her techno-junkie neighbor to turn his raging music down, lunch meet-ups doing tech support on flailing iMacs, and most most memorably– picnics and hikes around the countryside lakes.

The recipe she gave me after a dinner party in Friedrichshain was for Carrot Ginger Pumpkin soup. I’ve modified her recipe over the years to include potato (for a vegan creamy texture) and soy milk instead of cream. I also often use other vegetables (in this case zucchini) instead of pumpkin.

I love to cook with what I have in the kitchen, and I still change up this soup accordingly all the time. This is an all-year soup that you can vary in thickness and spice according to weather and whim. Like thicker soups? Easy: Add less water. Not in the mood for thick wintery soup? No trouble: increase the water or soy milk slightly. It’s also easy to make a more South Asian version by increasing the appropriate spices, using fresh turmeric, and I’ve even turned this into a sort of dal (lentil) fusion soup adding a cup of cooked red lentils to the vegetables before puréeing. And if you want a more European and less Asian soup, drop or reduce the cumin and coriander and add lots of fresh thyme, basil, rosemary– and possibly some tomato paste or chopped tomatoes.

This soup works great as a starter served along with a healthy salad (such as my Arugula Pear Walnut salad favorite) warming up to a nice, hearty meal. It impresses guests every time and everyone always asks for more.

It’s also a hit for families and with kids. My son isn’t a big fan of fresh ginger, so I always dial that down and bit and often add cooked lentils. Like his dad, he’s kinda a Dal-aholic.

Double the soup and have enough for a few days. You won’t get bored of it, especially if you have plenty of good bread, tasty crackers, or your own tasty croutons. It can also be frozen and kept for a quick, delicious meal next week, or whenever when you’re too lazy to cook.

Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup 2.0

serves 3 to 4 / time 30 min

  • 3 medium (300 g) carrots peeled, chopped
  • 3 medium (300 g) potatoes peeled, chopped
  • 1 medium (250 g) zucchini chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small red (60 g) onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 in (3 cm) ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg ground
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1/2 tsp paprika ground
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine or water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes optional 
  • 3/4 tsp salt more as needed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) soy milk
  • 3 cups (720 ml) vegetable broth
    or 3 cups (720 ml) water + 1 Tbs vegetable broth powder
  • fresh herbs for garnish
  1. Heat oil in large pot on medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, ginger, ground cumin, coriander, nutmeg, black pepper, and paprika. Mix well. Fry until garlic and onions are browned, 2–3 min.
  2. Add chopped carrots, potatoes, and zucchini. Mix well with spices, cook until browned, 3–5 min.
  3. Add lemon juice and 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine (or water). Cook partially covered, stirring often,
    until all vegetables are soft, 7–10 min. Remove from heat.
  4. Transfer to a blender. Add soy milk and purée until smooth. (Alternately use an immersion blender.)
  5. Return purée to pot on medium heat. Stir in turmeric and nutritional yeast flakes (if using) and simmer 2–3 min.
  6. Stir in 2–3 cups (480–720 ml) vegetable broth (or water and broth powder) gradually, maintaining
    a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer to desired consistency, another 5–10 min,
    gradually adding more broth or water as needed.
  7. Continue to cook on medium low heat, reduce to desired consistency. Stir in salt, adjusting to taste.
  8. Garnish with fresh herbs and some ground paprika and black pepper.
  9. Serve with bread, croutons, or crackers.

Variations:

Vedic: Replace garlic and onions with 1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing) and 1 tsp black mustard seeds. Pumpkin: Replace carrots and zucchini with chopped pumpkin. Cashew creamy: Instead of soy milk, blend with 1 cup (240 ml) water and 2–3 Tbs cashews, ideally soaked for 30 min beforehand.

Recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Recipes from World Adventures 2.0 (2021 – Ventil Verlag)

Ginger Lemon Chickpea Sprouts

Raw: Ginger Lemon Chickpea Sprouts - The Lotus and the Artichoke

This is an all-raw variation on one of my favorite, traditional Indian snacks — roasted chickpeas. Actually, my earliest memory of roasted chickpeas is having them served as part of breakfast at the Hare Krishna temple in Philly in the early 90s.

Years later, when I really got into raw foods, I was sprouting just about everything I could find. I’ve experimented a lot with sprouted chickpea houmous and I love chickpea sprouts in salads. That said, they’re not for everyone. Try it and see if you like the fresh, raw, nuttier flavor. On their own they taste a bit weird, but the ginger and lemon and pinch of spices brings out a nice, zippy flavor to go with the crunch. Earth-crunchy, that is.

Raw: Ginger Lemon Chickpea Sprouts - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Kichererbsensprossen mit Ingwer & Zitrone – mit indischem Aroma

4 Portionen / Dauer 15 Min.+

  • 1 Tasse / 185 g getrocknete Kichererbsen
  • 1 cm frischer Ingwer fein gehackt
  • 2-3 EL Zitronensaft
  • 1/4 TL Salz
  • 1/4 TL Kreuzkümmel gemahlen
  • 1/4 TL Paprikapulver
  • 1 TL Oliven- oder Sesamöl
  • 1 Prise Paprikapulver
  • frische Petersilien- oder Korianderblätter gehackt, zum Garnieren
  1. Kichererbsen spülen. 24 Stunden in 4 Tassen Wasser einweichen.
  2. Wasser abgießen, mit frischem Wasser spülen, erneut abgießen und abgedeckt, aber nicht luftdicht, an einen kühlen Ort zum Keimen stellen.
  3. Schritt 2 alle 12 Stunden wiederholen, bis die Kichererbsen nach 24 bis 36 Stunden kleine Keime haben. Ältere Sprossen schmecken bitterer.
  4. Gekeimte Kichererbsen erneut spülen und in eine große Schüssel geben.
  5. Ingwer, Zitronensaft, Salz, Kreuzkümmel, Paprikapulver und Öl dazugeben und gut vermischen.
  6. Abdecken und 15 bis 30 Min. ziehen lassen.
  7. Mit Paprikapulver und Petersilien- oder Korianderblättern garnieren.

Variationen:

Noch aromatischer: 1 TL Ahorn- oder Agavensirup, etwas gemahlenen schwarzen Pfeffer oder wenn gewünscht einen Spritzer Sojasoße hinzufügen.

 



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