Nasi lemuni is a popular native Malay dish where the herbal rice is cooked with the juice from the lemuni plant, which lends the dish a slightly bitter-ish flavour. Malays traditionally serve nasi lemuni as a confinement food to women on post-natal care, and the leaves are also believed to have blood cleansing properties.
The best nasi lemuni I’d tried in Penang is from Sari Rasa stall at the Astaka Taman Tun Sardon in Bukit Gelugor (near Kampung Kastam), a mainly Malay/Muslim neighbourhood.
The Astaka (foodcourt) does brisk business in the mornings when the wet market next door is at its busiest. Sari Rasa operates from around 8am onwards and its hot, freshly-cooked dishes continue to be dished out throughout the morning.
Tell the lady manning the stall you’d like the “nasi lemuni” (there are other options there like the ubiquitous “nasi lemak” and “nasi tomato”) and she’ll dish out a serving of the rice for you on a large dinner plate. You then pick out your side dishes from the trays of freshly-cooked food at the counter yourself, before handing your loaded plate back for her to tally the cost of your breakfast selection.
I chose “daging masak kicap” (soy-braised beef), “sayur dalca campur hati ayam” (vegetable-dhal curry with chicken livers), “pacheri” ( and a fried egg - it all came up to just RM6 or US$1.40.
Astaka Taman Tun Sardon
Jalan Hilir Pemancar
Taman Tun Sardon, 11700 Gelugor
Opening hours: 7.30am to 12.30pm daily.
It’s the first day of the Chinese New Year today, so virtually all the Chinese hawkers in Penang are closed.
Breakfast this morning were take-outs from Astaka Taman Tun Sardon Market & Food Court in Gelugor, a Malay-Muslim enclave, and where everything’s open for business.
Serabai - these were the Malay forerunner of Nyonya apom berkuah. The delicate little crumpets were served with a Gula Melaka-santan sauce, instead of pengat pisang (caramelised bananas in coconut milk-brown sugar sauce) as for apom berkuah.
There’s a perpetual queue at this popular Serabai Istimewa Taman Tun Sardon dessert stall run by Jamaliah Hassan, 63, who’d been doing it for more than 4 decades. She inherited the business from her parents.
For comparison’s sake, this is the apom berkuah, which is common in Singapore and Malacca, but doesn’t exist in Penang’s food culture.
Nasi lemuni from Sari Rasa - we had two separate orders: one with daging masak hitam (beef in dark-sauced gravy), which also came with spiced long beans, curried potato and a hard-boiled egg:
And another with ayam masak merah (spicy chicken in a red chili gravy).
Nasi lemak - a simply coconut-flavoured rice, topped with spicy red chili sambal, anchovies & onions, and a wedge of hard-boiled egg, all wrapped in a banana leaf.
I think I would enjoy both versions of crumpet-like cakes.
It’s Chinese new year today already! I had no idea! Happy new year then
Thanks! Yes, it is the Year of the Ox on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
Terribly quiet this year because of the COVID lockdown still in place - no lion dances or dragon dances. Restrictions on movement - no more than 10 kms from one’s home, and only two persons per car; and restrictions on dining - you can dine out now (since 2 days back), but only two persons per table of any size.
Some sights around Penang the last few days - you can see the relatively empty malls and streets.
At least we still have our health. No amount of money can buy it.