An Inside Look at Authentic Malaysian Cuisine - Nasi Kandar Mixed Rice Dish
Table of Contents
- Overview of Nasi Kandar Mixed Rice
- Mutton Curry Recipe and Cost Breakdown
- Squid Curry Recipe
- Fish Head Curry
- Other Signature Dishes and Sides
- FAQs on Nasi Kandar Mixed Rice
Overview of Nasi Kandar Mixed Rice
Nasi Kandar, also known as mixed rice, is a popular Malaysian rice dish originating from Penang. It consists of steamed rice served with a variety of curries, vegetables, and protein options that customers can mix and match. The name Nasi Kandar comes from the mobile vendors who balanced two baskets ('kandar' in Tamil) of dishes on a pole and walked around selling the rice mixture door-to-door.
Some key features of Nasi Kandar are the complex spice mixes used to flavor the curries, the variety of dishes offered, and the flexibility it allows for customers to choose their perfect combination of rice and sides. In Penang, Nasi Kandar is eaten at all times of the day - for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Key Malaysian Spices and Ingredients
Nasi Kandar curries start with a base of aromatics like onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. Spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, curry leaves and chili peppers are used to add complex layers of flavor. Coconut milk is also added to many of the curries, giving a creamy, rich taste. Common proteins include chicken, mutton, beef, squid, prawns and fish. Locally grown Malaysian vegetables like okra, eggplant and cabbage are frequent sides.
Cooking Process and Timeline
The Nasi Kandar cooking process starts early in the morning, around 5-6am. Large pots of rice are set to steam so they will be ready for the lunch rush. Curry bases are prepared by frying spices and aromatics into a paste. Meats like chicken and mutton are marinated overnight and then cooked for hours in the spiced curry bases to tenderize and soak up flavors. More delicate proteins like squid and prawns are added closer to service. Vegetables are par-cooked to retain some crispiness.
Mutton Curry Recipe and Cost Breakdown
Mutton curry is one of the most popular meat options at Nasi Kandar stalls. We make about 100kg of mutton curry each day, using around 3 whole lambs. The mutton is marinated overnight in a blend of spices like coriander, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and curry leaves.
The next morning, the mutton is cooked for around 3 hours in the curry base we prepared earlier by frying onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices. This long cooking time ensures the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender while absorbing layers of flavor.
Our mutton curry costs around RM20 per plate. For 100kg of meat cooked per day, the total ingredient cost is about RM2000. With labor, gas and overhead expenses, we make a modest profit while keeping our prices affordable for customers.
Squid Curry Recipe
Squid curry is a popular choice for customers who want a non-meat protein. We cook around 50kg of fresh squid each day for this dish.
Since squid cooks quickly, we don't add it to the curry pot until closer to service time. The par-cooked squid soaks up the rich flavors of the curry base for 10-15 minutes without becoming rubbery.
Before plating the squid curry, we cut the squid into smaller bite-sized pieces. This makes the squid easier to enjoy alongside the rice and other dish combinations.
Our squid curry costs around RM13-25 depending on portion size. The total daily ingredient cost for 50kg of squid is about RM500.
Fish Head Curry
Fish head curry is a specialty that we cook in a large single pot each day. We source fresh red snapper, grouper, or other local fish to make around 10kg of fish head curry.
The fish heads and meat are cooked directly in the spiced curry base for an hour until the meat flakes off the bone. The bones and heads add extra depth of flavor to the gravy.
Customers love the tender fish cheeks and meat. A whole fish head costs around RM25. The total ingredient cost for fish heads is about RM250 per day.
Other Signature Dishes and Sides
In addition to the curries, Nasi Kandar stalls typically offer fried chicken, fried fish, omelets, and assorted vegetable sides.
Our signature fried chicken is marinated in turmeric, cumin, coriander, and other spices overnight. The next day, we coat the chicken in a spiced batter and deep fry it until crispy golden brown outside and juicy inside. We make around 30-40kg of fried chicken each day.
For vegetable sides, we prepare 10kg of cabbage stir-fried in oyster sauce, along with other Chinese-influenced greens. Cooling cucumber slices and achar pickles help balance the rich curries.
We also make a huge vat of frothy teh tarik pulled tea sweetened with condensed milk for customers to wash down their meal.
FAQs on Nasi Kandar Mixed Rice
Here are some frequently asked questions about Nasi Kandar:
What are the best combination of dishes to try for first-timers? Go for the mutton curry, fried chicken, cabbage stir-fry, cucumber slices, and papadum crackers for a balanced flavor profile.
What time of day is Nasi Kandar usually eaten? It's popular for breakfast, lunch, and dinner since the curries hold up well for hours.
Is Nasi Kandar spicy? The curries are aromatically spiced, but not typically very hot and spicy. Let the stall owners know if you prefer milder versions.
Can you customize orders? Yes, just let the servers know which curries, vegetables, and proteins you want over your rice.
What is the flaky crispPapadum? It's a thin, fried cracker made from lentil flour that adds crunch.
Q: What are the key spices used in Nasi Kandar?
A: Key spices include cinnamon, star anise, fennel, curry leaves, onion, garlic, and various curry powders to form the flavorful curry paste base.
Q: How long does it take to prepare the mixed rice dishes?
A: It takes about 5 hours total to prepare the signature mutton, squid and fish head curries along with the cabbage veggie sides and fried chicken.