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Rice salad perfumed with herbs (Nasi ulam) Recipe

Rice salad perfumed with herbs (Nasi ulam) Recipe

Rice salad perfumed with herbs (Nasi ulam) Recipe

This rice dish originates from the east coast of Malaysia where it is served cold during the fasting month by the Muslims. The fast is broken with a sweet rosewater drink to slake the thirst, followed by this aromatic herbal rice, searingly hot and tart with fresh lime juice, with a spicy sweet sambal on the side. Herbal rice is said to aid digestion, cleanse and refresh the body. It is served in many parts of Asia, including Myanmar and Indonesia. The Indians serve a similar Ayurvedic-influenced tamarind rice salad believed to “cool” the body.

Ingredients :

    • 400 g (4 cups) cooked rice
    • 3-4 betel leaves, soaked in water (enough to cover) mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar for 2 hours, then drained and thinly shredded
    • 1 onion, finely sliced and stir-fried until golden in 1 tablespoon oil
    • 60 g (1/2 cup) dried prawns, rinsed and dry-roasted until crisp
    • 1/2 turmeric leaf, rolled and thinly sliced
    • 2 sprigs curry leaves, chopped
    • 3 sprigs Vietnamese mint, chopped
    • 40 g (1 cup) Thai basil leaves, chopped
    • 40 g (1 cup) mint leaves, chopped
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves, cut into fine threads
    • 1 small sprig fresh thyme, chopped
    • 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh galangal root
    • 250 g (1 cup) grated green papaya
    • 10 peppercorns, dry-roasted and crushed
    • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp, mashed with 4 tablespoons boiling water and strained to obtain the juice
    • Salt, to taste


    • 4 baby or Lebanese cucumbers
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (250 ml) vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons sugar

Method :

    1. Prepare the Pickled Cucumber first by thinly slicing the cucumbers with a mandolin as shown. In a large bowl, mix the cucumber slices with a little salt and set aside for 5 minutes. Squeeze the liquid from the cucumber slices, then rinse quickly, drain and dry on paper towels. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add the sliced cucumber and mix until well coated. Allow to marinate for 2 hours, then drain and set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, combined the cooked rice with all the other ingredients except the tamarind juice and salt. Gently toss the mixture until well blended, adding the tamarind juice a little at a time. Do not use all the tamarind juice; add just enough to separate the rice grains. Season with salt to taste, transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with the Pickled Cucumber on the side. This dish goes well with pickled limes too.

SERVES : 4–6
PREPARATION TIME : 45 mins + 2 hours to marinate