There’s a big tradition in my family to celebrate with food. Every calender event is celebrated with an extravagant feast. While a restaurant meal can be stress-free and very indulgent, for my last few birthdays, I’ve taken the alternative route and have been cooking up a storm for my family instead!

I love the relaxed nature of hosting a casual dinner party and I love seeing the preparation process all come together! Plus it’s so much more economical 😉

This year, along with the rest of Sydney, I’ve become a bit obsessed with Malaysian cuisine… So when my birthday came recently, I threw a nasi lemak party!

Homemade nasi lemak

I received a lot of “wows” when I posted pictures of the dinner so I thought I’d share some of my tips, because it’s really not that hard!

How to host a nasi lemak party

1. Decide on your side dishes
I chose to make beef rendang because it could cook itself in my trusty thermal cooker so was pretty effortless – particularly with a tub of Jackie M’s curry paste in my freezer! If you have a small kitchen, take into consideration how each dish needs to be finished off and make sure it is spread out among your appliances so you can cook various things simultaneously. 

2. Prepare as many elements as you can ahead of time
Things like sambal can be made a day earlier. I also had the ayam goreng marinating in the fridge since the morning so
once guests arrived, I simply needed to whip it out and deep-fry.You can also boil and peel the eggs, and slice the cucumbers before guests arrive.

3.Serve it DIY style at the table
There’s nothing easier than having guests serve themselves so you can actually sit down without running back and forth from the kitchen! The large spread of side dishes will make people forget you’re only serving one course – LOL!

Homemade nasi lemak - fried ayam goreng, boiled eggs, pandan and coconut rice, sambal

What was served

Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken): I don’t deep-fry at home very often but when I do, there’s an abundance of it because it’s hard to stop once the wok has been set up and the oil is at the right temperature! I call it binge-frying. Homemade mamak-style fried chicken is the best! This is the recipe I used.

Eggs, Cucumbers, Peanuts: All offer a variety of contrasting textures and flavours and are a piece of cake to prep!

Coconut Rice: Thanks to my thriving pandan plant, I was able to generously flavour my
coconut rice with lots of pandan leaves! It’s so rewarding being able to
cut fresh pandan leaves from my balcony! My fluffy coconut rice was the result of this fab recipe.

Sambal Ikan Bilis (Dried anchovies sambal): I made this from scratch using this recipe because it’s such a key element to the dish. Slightly sweet, sour, salty and spicy, sambal adds pizzazz to anything and everything!

Beef Rendang: I was given some premium grass-fed Cape Grim beef cheeks a while back and had been saving it for something special. I’d been served Cape Grim Beef several times in Tassie namely here and here and let me just say, it’s every red meat lover’s dream come true! Beef cheeks need lots of love as it’s a tough cut of meat but with a slow cooker or thermal cooker in my case, they’re effortlessly delicious. As mentioned earlier, I used Jackie M’s Hot Rendang Paste as I was time-short.

Homemade beef rendang with Jackie M's spice paste

This is the moment when everything came together –
(Banana leaves courtesy of my Mum’s garden!)

Celebrating my birthday with a nasi lemak party

Nasi lemak dishes

A big plate of nasi lemak from my homemade nasi lemak birthday party

The aromas and flavours transformed my place into a little piece of Malaysia! It was such a memorable feast, I can’t wait to cook this all over again!

And of course, it wouldn’t be a birthday post without a birthday cake. This was my decadent cappuccino mousse cake from Pasticceria Papa 🙂

Good times! 

Cappuccino cake from Pasticceria Papa

JENIUS received the Cape Grim Beef Cheeks with compliments of ONQ Design Group and Cape Grim Beef. All other ingredients were paid for in full.

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
  • Your birthday feast looks amazing. You are a clever cook. Do you grow your pandan in a pot? I would not mind growing one here.

  • Jen

    Yep, in a pot so I can move it around to whereever it is warm (or indoors in winter).

  • Oh my goodness, this is amazing!
    But I have to say, I’m more interested in the pandan plant! Where did you get yours from?
    I absolutely love pandan and would like to grow some myself, mostly so I don’t have to go to Chat Thai every time I want pandan sticky rice 😉

  • Oooh that looks fabulous! It’s so hard to get the rice right, but yours looks perfect! I could just have nasi lemak everday, really! I’m amazed you managed to grow pandan here 🙂