Selangor is one of Malaysia’s economic centres and serves as the nation’s main entry point — especially since it cradles the capital city Kuala Lumpur — but the state’s cuisine rarely gets the attention it deserves. This is unfortunate, as Selangor is home to a wide variety of delectable dishes that reflect the diverse population who call it home. Many of these dishes have been perfected through time.
There is now yet an additional reason to choose Selangor as your next dining destination, whether you’re a local or just passing through. Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, Menteri Besar of Selangor, recently made the announcement that nasi ambeng has been recognised as a Selangor cultural heritage dish — and it’s blowing up on Twitter (with netizens sharing their thoughts on the announcement).
The Menteri Besar of Selangor has stated that the heritage designation is meant to protect the originality of nasi ambeng. If ever you find yourself faced with a nasi ambeng in Selangor, there’s only one rule, really — show up hungry!
So, what is nasi ambeng?
Nasi ambeng, pronounced ‘ahm-beng’, is a dish originating from the Javanese Malays living in Indonesia.
This meal is commonly offered at celebrations including weddings, anniversaries, and Ramadan. On these special occasions, nasi ambeng is served communal-dining style, with a pile of steamed rice in the centre of a round tray coated with banana leaves and an assortment of meat and vegetable dishes surrounding it to mark the occasion.
These viands usually include beef rendang, ayam lemak, sambal goreng (long beans, beancurd, and tempeh fried with sambal and coconut milk), and urap (steamed vegetables tossed in spiced grated coconut).
According to Javanese tradition, the head of the family who attends the ceremony will taste a little of the rice before it is divided and taken home as a blessing to the family members at home.
The unique way nasi ambeng is prepared and presented makes it a tasty traditional dish that also promotes community solidarity.
Where to find it
In Selangor, you may find a slightly varied version of this traditional dish. Here, you’ll typically find lauk (viands) such as curry chicken, fried noodles, long beans, sambal tempeh accompanied by white rice served over a banana leaf! But, like in Indonesia, nasi ambeng is usually served at festivals or kenduri events (banquets).
Of course, you can also order nasi ambeng from an online caterer or find it at some restaurants too.