RECIPE: How to make nasi lemak with fragrant coconut rice

 Photography Frencheschar Lim Art Direction & Styling Diane Ng 
J65 Restaurant Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore, 1A Cuscaden Road (6831-4374)

Recipe by Executive Chef Frederick Kho

Serves 4

For the fried chicken:
4 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp turmeric powder
2 cups plain yogurt
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
8 chicken drumsticks

For the coconut rice:
2 cups basmati rice
6 pandan leaves, knotted
8cm knob of ginger, bruised
270ml coconut milk
2 cups hot water
Salt, to taste

For the sambal:
30 dried chillies, seeds removed and soaked in hot water
5 shallots, 3 quartered and 2 thinly sliced
12 cloves garlic
5 tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp belacan, roasted
1 tsp dried shrimp, soaked in hot water
5 tbsp canola oil
1 lemongrass, white part only, thinly sliced
10 shallots, thinly sliced
1 green chilli, thinly sliced
1 tbsp ginger or garlic paste
Salt, to taste
3 tbsp kecap manis (sweet dark soya sauce)
8 prawns, boiled and shells removed (optional)

For the fried chicken flour mix:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rice flour
½ cup cornstarch
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
Salt, to taste
½ litre vegetable oil
2 cups ikan bilis, deep-fried until crispy
1 cup peanuts, deep-fried until crispy
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
½ cucumber, sliced

Prepare the chicken:
1 In a bowl, whisk the curry, chilli and turmeric powders with some water into a paste.
2 Combine 4 tbsp of the paste with the yogurt, eggs, sugar, salt and black pepper in a ziplock bag. Add the chicken, combine well and chill overnight. Set aside the remaining curry spice mix to fry the chicken.
3 Remove the chicken from the fridge and set aside for it to reach room temperature before frying.

Prepare the coconut rice:
1 Soak the basmati rice for 30min, then drain.
2 Add the pandan leaves, ginger, coconut milk, hot water and salt to the rice and cook in the rice cooker for 15-20min, or until fluffy.

Prepare the sambal:
1 In a blender, whizz the dried chillies, quartered shallots, garlic, tomatoes, belacan and dried shrimp with a little water until fine to make a chilli paste.
2 Heat the canola oil in a wok. When it starts to splutter, add the lemongrass and green chillies. 
3 Add the sliced shallots and saute until golden brown, and then add ginger or garlic paste and fry until fragrant.
4 Mix in the chilli paste and salt, and cook over low heat, covered, for 25min. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
5 Add the kecap manis (you can add more if you like it sweeter). Take off the heat and cool.

Fry the chicken:
1 Remove the drumsticks from the marinade and allow the excess to drip off.
2 Make the flour mix by combining 2 tbsp of the curry spice mix with the all-purpose and rice flours, cornstarch, black pepper, baking powder and salt.
3 Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, pressing it with your hands to make a thick layer before gently shaking off excess flour. Rest the chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
4 Heat the oil in a wok. Drop a bit of the chicken marinade into the oil – it is hot enough when it bubbles.
5 Place 3-4 drumsticks at a time into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd it or allow the chicken pieces to touch to avoid the coating coming apart. Fry for 5-8 min until golden brown, gently turn them over and fry for another 5-8min, or until golden brown.
6 Rest the chicken on a wire rack before serving.
7 Serve your nasi lemak with the sides as pictured, or arrange everything but the sambal on a platter and dig in!