• Ella Shrago

Nasi Kerabu - The Royal Blue Rice of Kelantan

Malaysia has become one of the world’s food destinations; a diverse country mixed with a myriad of cultures such as Arab, Indian, Chinese, Siamese, Javanese, Minangkabau and others. It’s hard to compare any other cuisine like the ones you can find in Malaysia. Its intricate method of cooking, the availability and use of prominent ingredients, such as local aromatic herbs and spices makes the Malaysian cuisine uniquely captivating.

Malay heritage varies from north to south; however, there are various similarities and differences. Different regions in Malaysia are known for their unique or signature dishes, such as beef rendang, laksa, nasi lemak, and tapai. But the one dish I want to focus on in this blog is the infamous blue rice of Kelantan, which is the Nasi Kerabu.

What is this blue rice?

Nasi Kerabu or Khāoyam originates from the east coast part of Malaysia with a bit of Thai influence. Its rice is uniquely blue in color, which comes from having been soaked and cooked with the extract of the purplish blue bunga telang or butterfly pea. Not only does it give out a natural blue colorant but it also gives a tantalizing rich fragrance to the rice.

Butterfly pea powder
The bunga telawang used as colorant for cooking

Bunga telang has traditionally been used as a vegetable in cooking, to color desert or to make strikingly vibrant colored tea. It is jam-packed full of health promoting antioxidants, flavonoids and peptides as a natural remedy for a range of health issues.

CLICK on this link to purchase a packet of Butterfly Pea on Amazon.es

The Nasi Kerabu is usually treated more like a salad due to the condiments that was served with it back in the days. It is accompanied with edible leaves such as daun kesum (Vietnamese Mint), daun kadok (betel leaf), bean sprout, long beans and cucumber. Occasionally, Nasi Kerabu is served with salted fish or egg, fish crackers or fried chicken with a bit of budu sauce on the side.

Living in Barcelona has definitely limited my options in finding most of these condiments. But nevertheless, you can still enjoy this amazing dish without these edible herbs and make some substitutions as you like.

Nasi Kerabu

Serving 3-4 people. Rice is cooked in a small size rice cooker.


2 ½ cups of rice

2 pandan leaves

1 thinly sliced lemongrass

5 buds of butterfly pea flower

Water sufficient to cook the rice

Cook the rice as you would normal rice with the ingredients together. Once the rice is cooked, you can serve the rice with any condiments you like.

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