Nasi Dagang is a Malaysian and Southern Thai dish consisting of rice steamed in coconut milk, fish curry and extra ingredients such as fried shaved coconut, hard-boiled eggs and vegetable pickles.  Nasi Dagang literally means "Trading Rice".  This was what traders and merchants, especially the Bugis from Sulawesi, would pack to eat as they travelled for trade, back in the 18th century.  These traders first set foot in Malaya in Johor, and later made their way north, all the way to Terengganu.

Nasi Dagang is well-known breakfast food in the states on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, such as Terengganu and Kelantan and Southern Thailand territory of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.  The most famous Nasi Dagang of Terengganu comes from Kampung Ladang, an area within the Kuala Terengganu district.  Nasi Dagang can also be considered as a festive dish in Kelantan and Terengganu because it is prepared at home for the morning of Eid ul-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, to be eaten as a breakfast before or after the Eid prayers in the mosque.

Apart from the basic combination of rice and curry, Nasi Dagang usually comes with its different components which can be combined to suit the diner's taste.  From a simple serving of the steamed rice and tuna curry usually found at roadside stalls, the complete home-made version may include a sliced hard-boiled egg (hard boiled eggs are cut into four or eight slices), fried coconut (coconut is freshly shaved, mixed with sliced shallots and fried until golden brown), vegetable pickle (the vegetables are pickled in rice vinegar and sugar.  The vegetables commonly used are cucumber, chillies, and carrots) and sambal (chilli sambal can sometimes be included).

The combination of fenugreek seeds and coconut milk gives Nasi Dagang its unique flavour and fragrance.  The rice may first be soaked in water for several hours to soften.  It is then mixed with thick coconut milk, sliced shallots & ginger, lemon grass and fenugreek seeds.  The rice is steamed until cooked.  It may also be steamed twice where more coconut milk is added when it is half-cooked. Then the rice is steamed again until cooked.  This method ensures a more creamy finish to the rice.

This accompanying dish is only specially prepared for nasi dagang and is sometimes locally called gulai darat, making it one of a kind  This curry the fish is cooked in is not an Indian style curry powder but a Malay-style curry i.e. coconut milk mixed with traditional Malay spices such as lemon grass, galangal, chilli paste and turmeric.  Tuna is the standard choice of fish but other fish can be used as well such as tenggiri and salmon.  Prawns are also used sometimes; however, the gulai is prepared slightly differently.

The Terengganu version uses the normal white rice, while the Kelantan variety uses a type of rice locally called "beras nasi dagang", which is a type of wild rice that has a light purple colour and a little glutinous.  The Terengganu version is also much simpler, eaten only with the fish curry (sometimes with belimbing buluh 'averrhoa bilimbi' added) and pickles.

Some people from the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia claim that Nasi Dagang is the Nasi Lemak of the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in the states of Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang. This claim is actually unheard of in either place as both dishes are commonly be found sold side by side for breakfast.

Enough with the above lengthy description of  Nasi Dagang Terengganu, its time for me now to share with you the recipe for this fabulously delicious yummy scrummy dish from the East coast which is my all-time favourite..can never get enough of this....by the way recipe Nasi Dagang ni saya ambil dari buku masakan "LOST RECIPES OF MALAYSIA" oleh Chef Mohd Shokri....yang lebih kurang sama ajer dengan cara saya masak Nasi Dagang saya sendiri (dengan sedikit tokok tambah)...

For the steamed rice

  • 200 g fragrant rice
  • 100 g glutinous rice
  • 220 ml coconut milk (thick)
  • 220 ml coconut milk (thin)
  • 10 g ginger, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fenegreek seeds (biji halba)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • Salt to taste

For the Gravy

  • 1 kg tuna fish (ikan kayu/aya/tongkol) cut into 6-7 thick pieces and steamed for 20 minutes.
  • 100 ml cooking oil
  • 20 g galangal - blended
  • 2 cloves garlic - blended
  • 20 g ginger - blended
  • 10 shallots - blended
  • 2 lemon grass, sliced and blended (I add this)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 tbsp dried chillie paste (boiled dried chillies and blended)
  • 2 tbsp fish curry powder or Rempah cap Ros (mix with some water to form a paste)
  • 20 g fresh turmeric, blended
  • 3 pcs assam keping
  • Some Chilli padi or green chillies & Belimbing (I add this)
  • 500 ml thick coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon kerisek (I add this)
  • Salt & sugar to taste

For the Pickles

  • 500 g cucumber, deseeded and cut batonette or into strips
  • 200 g carrots, peeled and cut batonette or into strips
  • 2 red  chilles, deseeded and julienned
  • 300 g pineapples, peeled and sliced
  • 6 tbsp white vinegar
  • Salt & sugar to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into halves


To prepare the rice

Mix together the fragrant & glutinous rice, wash and soak them for 5-6 hours.
Drain well, then steam for 20-25 minutes or until half-cooked. 
Stir in the thin coconut milk and continue steaming for another 15 minutes or until nearly cooked.
Combine the thick coconut milk, shallots, garlic, ginger and fenugreek seeds and salt. Stir these ingredients into the rice, then steam again for 10-15 minutes until rice properly cooked.

To Prepare the Fish Gravy

Heat the oil in a a pan and saute the blended galangal, lemon grass, garlic, ginger & shallots & blended fresh turmeric on medium heat until fragrant.  Keep stirring, then add the cinnamon sticks and stir for another 2 minutes.
Add in the chilli paste and keep stirring for a couple of minutes until the oil separates.
Next add in the curry powder with a little water and stir for 3 minutes.  
Add the rest of the ingredients (coconut milk, assam keping, chilli padi/green chillies, belimbing & kerisek) and let the gravy boil.
Once the gravy is boiling, add in the fish, lower the heat and season with enough salt and sugar.
The taste should be slightly sweet,  If the sauce is too thick, add some water and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

To Prepare the Pickles

In a separate bowl, mix all the ingredients for the pickle and season with salt and sugar.  It should be slightly sweet.
To serve
Serve the steamed rice with hard-boiled egg, fish Gravy and vegetable pickle.
Happy Trying & Happy Cooking and remember to have fun while cooking!

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