Nasi Tomato With Ayam Masak Merah (番茄饭)



Per Wikipedia on Malaysian cuisines, it was stated that Nasi tomato or tomato rice :


“Nasi tomato – rice cooked with tomato sauce or paste, milk, dried spices, and a sautéed rempah base of garlic, onions, ginger. Nasi tomato is often paired with ayam masak merah.” (Source”


The fact that I am putting the definition of this rice at the start of the post means that it is one of our traditional cuisines that are always served by our Malay and Indian brothers. However, apparently, not many Chinese or other races or city dwellers are aware of this special rice that was usually served during kenduri (feast) or buka puasa..It is not a common daily dish but only prepared for occasions. It was especially common in 1970s and 1980s.


With the current craze of Japanese style tomato rice that was going in the Chinese and English Facebook Groups, I think it is timely for me to issue this post to let readers aware of our traditional cuisine. As a blogger who constantly promote traditional cuisine, I think it is my obligation to blog this as a respect to our delicious traditional cuisines..


Looking at the ingredients list, one will know that this is an aromatic rice.. with butter, milk, spices.. It was usually served with ayam masak merah literally translated as chicken cooked in red sauce. Red basically refer to tomato and chilli. It is a chicken that have a sweet tangy gravy and goes well with the rice…




  • 3 cups of rice (preferred basmati rice) – wash
  • 2 cm ginger, slice in big piece
  • 2 cinnamon stick *
  • 2 cloves *
  • 2 aniseed *
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups of plain water
  • 2 big tomato cut into small cubes
  • 1 big onion cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 5-6 tablespoons of tomato puree (not in picture)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or ghee

* can be optional


  • 1 medium sized chicken cut into big pieces
  • 1 can of tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 big tablespoons of dry chilli paste (chilli bo) (can be substitute with 10 dry chilli soaked and blend with herbs below)
  • 2 big tomatoes cut into small cubes
  • 1 lemon grass
  • 3 cm long of ginger
  • 10 shallots
  • 5 cloves of garlics
  • 1 big onion
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil

* coconut milk can be added if desired





  • In a pan, melt the butter and saute aniseed, cinnamon stick, cloves, garlic and chopped onion until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes  followed by the washed rice. Add the tomato puree and tomato sauce. Stir fry a few minutes until all the aroma were well incorporated. Transfer to the rice cooker. Add 1 cup of milk and 2 cups of plain water.  Add seasonings of your choice (salt to taste and sugar). Stir and cook in the rice cooker . Fluff the rice before serving and garnish with additional chopped deep fried shallots and Chinese celery.  (Note: This is on the assumption that 1 cup of rice requires 1 cup of liquid. You have to refer to your rice packaging instruction for rice cooking instruction. If you are unsure, for 3 cups of rice, use 2.5 cups of water to avoid mash rice. The tomato rice should be soft but grainy)

  • If you are want a faster way of cooking by passing the sautéing of spices as above. Put everything (including soften butter)  in the rice cooker and cooked as per rice cooker instruction. If you think that there are too many ingredients required, most are optional except : tomatoes, tomato puree or sauce, milk, butter/ghee, seasonings). This will be the fastest fuss free version without the spices.



  • In a blender , put shallots, onions, garlics, ginger and dry chilli (if dry chilli paste is not used). Add adequate water (about just enough to cover the ingredients) and blend until it form a fine paste. In a pot, add the cooking oil and sauté the garlic shallot paste until fragrant and aromatic.


  • Add the chilli sauce, followed by tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Bring to boil. Add in the chicken and cooked until the sauce dries up. In general, do not add water to the pot unless it is overly dry. Chicken when cooked will secrete meat juices. If too watery, it will take a long time to cook the dish until the desired thickness. It took me about 30 minutes to cook until the thickness that I want. Throughout the process, periodic stirring is required to prevent burnt in the bottom. Before off the heat, add sugar and salt to taste. Let it sit in the pot for at least 15minutes to half an hour before dishing up for serving.



This recipe is a rather traditional recipe that command my due respect. I hope that this will give reader another choice of the so called “tomato rice” craze, aware and proud of our very own version of nasi tomato. Please also note that our Indian brothers also have another version of tomato rice.. Do give it a try and let me know if it suit your taste bud. This is a one pot dish on its own and need no other side dishes though it was usually paired with ayam masak merah.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  


12 thoughts on “Nasi Tomato With Ayam Masak Merah (番茄饭)

  1. Hi Kenneth,

    Are you using the normal measuring cup for the rice or just a normal cup? Please advise. am keen to try this recipe. I had it once in Kuching, near Jalan Satok but I cannot remember now how the taste is. thank you

  2. hi Kenneth…when u mentioned milk, do u mean fresh milk or evaporated milk? btw, i like the way you explained it all and makes it so interesting … sure gonna give this a try!

  3. Thank you very much for the nasi tomato rescipi… will try cooking it this werkend .as for the ayam masak merah..i have.cooked that many times and the rescipi is very same to yours ..except i throw in a bit of daum ketumba (julian) and squeeze in juice from a lime. If you have buah belimbing buluh..cut in wedges …then no need limau…ket it simmer for a while before you turn off the fire…

  4. Hi Kenneth,i stumbled upon your site while looking for a recipe for ayam masak merah.I am pretty astound at your culinary skills and your ability to perfect malay dishes. I will definitely start following your blog.Cheers! ~Zara

  5. Hi Keneth,
    May i confirm again the chili source which did not mention in your ingredients but beibg mentionen in the steps..are u referring to the maggie bottle original chili source?

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