Originally from Kelantan, nasi kukus is a specialty rice dish.It comprises rice, steamed to a fluffy and fragrant texture, served with fried chicken or other kinds of meat, sambal and doused with a generous amount of gulai (gravy).
But you do not have to head out of the Klang Valley for a taste of some Kelantanese nasi kukus goodness.
Just head over to Pok Nik Nasi Kukus Pandan Indah in Ampang Jaya, Selangor, beside Tower B, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.
The eatery is popular among locals, not only for its nasi kukus but also its teh beng madu (iced tea with honey).
It has four branches — located in Cheras Baru, Maluri, Ampang and Kajang.
On serving customers nasi kukus that is fresh and piping hot, owner Nik Samsul Bahrin Sabtu, 51, shares the secrets of his enterprise that he runs with wife, Nor Hayati Hussein, 46.
“We have our own warehouse in Cheras Baru, where we slaughter the chickens ourselves, prepare the gulai and marinate the chickens every day,” he said.
The dishes are also prepared and the chickens marinated throughout the day before being delivered to the branches, he added.
On their winning nasi kukus formula, Nor Hayati revealed that the rice was steamed in a tightly covered steamer, which allowed the grains to cook evenly so that the rice will be moist and separate, rather than clumpy or sticky.
“To make the chicken juicy, we marinate it with Kelantan spices including onions, garlic, lemongrass and galangal for about two to four hours.
“If we leave it marinating for too long, it won’t be as juicy,” she said.
The spices for the gulai come all the way from Kelantan.
“The supplier makes the spices for us, such as rempah darat (dry spice blend/ground spice mixture), rempah kari (curry powder) and rempah kerutuk (a type of seasoning).”
As for the sambal, grade A chillies are used to ensure satisfactory level of spiciness, blended with garlic, Holland onions and seasoning.
On the choice of accompanying protein, the nasi kukus goes well with the restaurant’s selection of ayam kampung (free-range chicken), ayam dara (spring chicken), ayam cincang (minced chicken), quail, catfish and pomfret.
The restaurant also offers other traditional Malay dishes, including nasi kerabu and nasi lemak, as well as side dishes such as sambal sotong (squid), sambal paru (beef lungs), ayam percik and ayam bakar.
The nasi kukus with free-range chicken or quail is priced at RM10.50, RM8 if with spring chicken, and RM7.50 with minced chicken.
Its popular teh beng madu and teh beng madu hijau are priced at RM6 and RM7 respectively.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.