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Malaysia ~ Local Food & Cuisines

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Don't miss the local delicacies when you visit Malaysia, you would really be losing out. Just look, with our multi-cultural social mix, you certainly can expect somewhat of a unique and endless blend of cuisine.

Primarily consisting of Malay, Chinese and Indian food, it also has its hybrids derived from cross cultural influences such as Mamak (Indian-Muslim) and Nyonya (the Malay-Chinese mix). A dish with the same name also exists in different location but that doesn’t mean it’s the same as its of a different flavour and the 'Chinese Rojak’ is quite different from the 'Indian Rojak’. Nevertheless the main staple of diet shared by all Malaysians is  rice, which is steamed and eaten with a variety of dishes.


Hawker stalls are a favourite haunt for Malaysians from all walks of life. All over Malaysia you can find them along the roadside or hawker centres in the marketplace and even in the food courts within shopping malls, Roadside stall are usually open until midnight and is a great place for a meet and a chat. There are also the usual complement of coffee shops, restaurants in different settings and also in the five star hotels.


Malay Cuisine

The dishes have their distinctive spicy flavour, Chilli, lemon grass, Pandan (screwpine) leaves, daun kesum (polygonum or laksa leaf), kunyit (tumerc), bunga kantan (wild ginger buds) are some of the spices used.


Nasi Lemak ~ Popularly eaten for breakfast among the locals, this dish consists of rice cooked with coconut milk served with sambal ikan billis (fried anchovies in hot chilli paste), slices of boiled egg and cucumber, larger portions can include curry chicken, beef or squid


Satay ~ Marinated beef or chicken pieces in skewers are barbecued over charcoal and eaten after dipping into a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. It can also be served with ketupat (rice cubes wrapped in palm leaves) and cucumber.

Nasi Dagang ~ This glutinous rice dish steamed with coconut milk comes with dishes of tuna fish curry and a vegetable pickle.

Laksa Johor ~ Rice noodles in fish curry soup.

Roti Jala ~ these ‘lacy pancakes’ are made from flour, eggs, a pinch of tumeric and a bit of butter served with any curry based dish.

Rendang ~ A meat dish cooked with coconut milk, chillies, onions, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg. Eaten with ketupat or lemang (glutinous rice cubes in coconut milk.



Ice Kacang ~ A colourful concoction of jelly cubes, red beans, creamed corn and peanuts topped with shaved ice, rose syrup and evaporated milk.

Others ~ Seri Kaya, Ondeh ondeh, Goreng Pisang.



Chinese Cuisine

The variety of local Chinese food stems from the different parts of China from which the early immigrants originated.  There a re a number of restaurants in most major cities that serves a delectable choice of cuisine such as in the eight or nine course meal that features exotic dishes of Shark’s Fin Soup’, Monk Jumps over the Wall’ and Peking Duck’. Outlined below are some of the one - person dishes that can be obtained.


Hainanese Chicken Rice ~ Rice cooked in chicken stock and topped with steamed or roasted chicken.

Wantan Mee ~ Soup noodles with prawn or pork dumplings and thin slices of roast pork or minced chicken.

Assam Laksa ~ A special from Penang consisting of thick rice noodles in a spicy and sour fish-based soup with pineapple, cucumber and onions. 

A sweet, thick prawn paste may be added for extra flavour.

Char Kuey Teow ~ Stir fried flat rice noodles with prawns, cockles, egg and bean sprouts

Dim Sum ~ Delicate morsels of specialties with over 30 varieties served in round bamboo baskets. Includes steamed prawn dumplings, 

Char Siew Pau (steamed bun with sweet roast pork filling) chicken feet in collagen, radish cake and egg custard tart.


Mooncakes ~ Available during 

the Mooncake Festival’ in September, with bean paste, lotus paste or lotus seed fillings, each with egg yolk if desired.

Others ~ Almond Jelly with Fruits, Shanghai Pancakes with Red Bean Paste.



Indian Cuisine

Local Indian cuisine can be divided into Northern Indian, Southern Indian and Indian-Muslim (or Mamak) Cuisine. Northern Indian dishes are mostly meat based and cooked with yogurt and ghee. Southern Indian cooking contains a liberal dose of coconut, tamarind and curry leaves while Indian-Muslim cuisine features rice and vegetables with rich, thick curries.


Northern Indian

Roti Canai ~ A local favourite, this pancake is made out of wheat flour dough which is stretched, layered and fried on a griddle. Variations include Roti Telur’  where egg is added, while Roti Sardin’ is filled with sardines. Delicious when eaten with Dhall’ and meat curries or even plain with sugar.


Naan ~ A healthier option, this fluffy and thick bread is baked on the tandoori, a traditional clay oven and eaten with Tandoori Chicken. Other versions include Butter Naan’, Onion Naan’ and Garlic Naan. Capati ~ Flattened bread made from whole-wheat flour and enjoyed with any curry or served with Potato Masala’, a chunk of mashed potatoes with vegetables.


Southern Indian

Thosai ~ Fried pancake with a slightly sourish taste, eaten with curry.  An interesting modification is the 'Paper Thosai’, a paper thin thosai served folded into a cone shaped hat which is a lot of fun to eat.

Banana Leaf Rice ~ Rice served on a banana leaf, the first disposable eco friendly plate, accompanied by a choice of dishes such as dried fish, papadams (lentil wafers) and chutney. Resam’, a spicy sourish soup is an accompaniment.


Indian Muslim

Nasi Kandar ~ Penangs most famous specialty is Nasi Kandar. Rice eaten with an assortment of dishes, which include curried squid, chicken, and fish.


Lassi ~ Yoghurt drink that can be ordered plain, sweet or fruit flavoured.

Teh Tarik ~ A frothy, sweetened tea with added condensed milk prepared by pouring between two large mugs to smoothen and cool the tea.


Chendol ~ Short strips of green pandan flavoured noodles in coconut milk with brown sugar and red beans.



Basically categorized into Chinese and Indian Vegetarian restaurants.

When dining in a Chinese Vegetarian restaurant, the menu will consist of meat-named dishes such as luncheon meat or fish-head noodles when in fact the meat’ is actually made of wheat gluten and is moulded to resemble real meat in both appearance and taste.  Indian restaurants offer dishes such as Dahi Vada’ (lentil doughnut), Vegetable Samosa’ and Tomato Uthappam.


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