Nasi Lemak: a popular and well-loved Singaporean breakfast food. Crispy fried chicken wings, salty ikan bilis, runny eggs, spicy sambal chilli, and fluffy white coconut rice.
That’s the picture-perfect image of a plate of this classic dish, but did you know that there’s a kind of nasi lemak that is blue?
Nowadays, rainbow food or just weirdly coloured food in general has become a huge trend. Think of all the blue bagels or bright green pancakes you’ve seen on social media.
To some, it might be quite off-putting since the thought of consuming so much food colouring is frankly rather gross. But you’ll be glad to know that blue nasi lemak isn’t coated with artificial colouring.
I know what you’re thinking, that it looks kind of fake. Admittedly, it’s really quite an eyeful, since we’re mostly used to rice being white or brown, but never blue. Well, you can’t deny that it’s indeed vibrant and eye-catching and will certainly turn heads if you bring it around.
But don’t worry, you’re not ingesting rice cooked in artificially coloured water (disgusting!) What you’re looking at is a natural coloring from the butterfly pea flower.
The butterfly pea flower, or bunga telang, is a flower that is completely safe to eat and is a popular choice for natural blue colouring. In fact, it is used to make the popular pulut inti kueh, the triangular kueh that resembles a mountain with a peak of brown desiccated coconut.
Not only does it look beautiful, the flower actually boasts health properties such as being good for your eyes, hair, and immune system. But this doesn’t mean that you should start eating more of this blue nasi lemak, okay? I’m pretty sure it’s a little unhealthy.
Looking at it more, you’ve got to admit that the blue rice speckled with white is actually rather pretty, especially since now you know that the coloring is all-natural.
This kind of nasi lemak, in which its offical name is nasi kerabu, is usually found in the north and east of Malaysia, like Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu or Penang. Of course, go south towards Singapore and it starts to turn “white”…and further down all the way to Singapore, our nasi lemak turns “green”.
But no one would bat an eye if he or she sees one of these blue nasi lemak in, say, Kelantan.
But of course, given the close ties between our neighbour, you can expect some stalls in Singapore to sell this. One of which is Jia Xiang Nasi Lemak, a store located near Lavender MRT. Not only has it received rave reviews for the aesthetic appeal, but the quality of the food is just as impressive, making it a complete package of perfection. To round it all off, the prices are really affordable too, ranging from $2.50-$5 for a set depending on what sides you want. That’s way more worth it than the rainbow food you pay at hipster shops just because they know you’re doing it for Instagram.
So grab a friend and persuade them to go down to Lavender with you! If you show them the picture and they ask “Ew why is the rice blue?”, make sure to give them a lecture on the natural food dye. Or if you’re lazy to actually travel there, they do deliveries but orders must be placed one day in advance. Enjoy your blue dish and bask in the glory when your friends on Instagram start frantically asking you where they can get their fix!
Jia Xiang Nasi Lemak can be found at (CT Hub 2) 114 Lavender Street #01-08 Singapore 338729.
Just so you know, there are many other stalls selling this “blue nasi lemak” – you just have to hunt for it. There’s also one at Woodlands MRT Station (look to your right when you’re walking towards the bus interchange). If you see a Penang food stall, try checking if their nasi lemak is blue!
(P.S. If not, just take a bus up to Malaysia.)