Nasi Kandar is a popular dish that originated from the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia and has trickled down south and made its mark all over the country. A food that was once made for the port workers has become a classic favourite among the affluent as well.
This particular dish is a burst of wonderfulness that is full of flavours that can fill up an empty stomach.
What is Nasi Kandar?
Nasi Kandar is an aromatic rice meal that has fans all across Malaysia, regardless of ethnicity. Traditionally, it consists of fragrant rice, fish curry, fried fish, and ladies finger (bendi). The meal comes with a generous amount of mixed curry, famously coined as banjir (flooding), and side dishes poured over the rice. Today, the variation of side dishes has made their way onto the plate. People have become creative with their side dishes to suit local preferences, with the addition of fried chicken, beef curry, lamb curry, fried squid, and brinjal.
History of Nasi Kandar
Indian Muslim traders who lived near the port of Pulau Pinang was the first community that introduced Nasi Kandar. The name Nasi Kandar came from the action of balancing a pole (kandar) over the shoulders while carrying two containers at both sides.
This container has rice (nasi) at one side and side dishes on another side. Port labourers would surround these sellers trying to get a plate of Nasi Kandar before commencing the day. As Nasi Kandar typically sold as a breakfast meal back in the day, this tradition lives on till today. However, Nasi Kandar is good to eat at any time of the day.
During the ‘70s, restaurants began to sell Nasi Kandar. Today, it is a common misconception that every ‘Mamak’ restaurant is a Nasi Kandar establishment or vice versa. The authentic Nasi Kandar has a specific taste and flavour to it.
Variety and Popularity of Nasi Kandar
Nasi Kandar has come a long way from just rice, curry fish and ladies finger all in one plate. Today, the rice is served on a separate plate from the side dishes, but the practice of pouring the curry sauce over the rice is still maintained.
The introduction of various side dishes has been a hit with the customers. It is perfect for those who are looking for something that suits their palate and budget. Today, there are written articles on where to find the best Nasi Kandar in almost every food-related website. Some even created a poll, requesting readers to vote the best Nasi Kandar.
There are also chain restaurants such as Nasi Kandar Nashmir, and Pelita Nasi Kandar that dedicated to sells Nasi Kandar throughout Malaysia.
Where to find Nasi Kandar in Malaysia
Pulau Pinang is the place to be if you want to experience the full effect of Nasi Kandar. Originated from the state, this authentic food is readily and easily accessible. However, there are some famous spots in Klang Valley where you can enjoy a plate of Nasi Kandar.
Try Chicken Nasi Kandar from Zainul Nasi Kandar (Petaling Jaya). If you are in a mood of beef or lamb, try Nasi Kandar from Nasi Kandar Express (Kajang). You can always log on to foodpanda and have your Nasi Kandar delivered right at your doorstep.