Malaysian cuisine is influenced by various cultures from all around the world. The vast majority of Malaysia's population can roughly be divided amongst three major ethnic groups: Malays, Chinese and Indians. The remainder consists of the Peranakan and Eurasian creole communities, the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia, the various tribal peoples of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia, as well as a significant number of foreign workers and expatriates. As a result of historical migrations and Malaysia's geographical position within the wider Southeast Asian region, Malaysia's culinary style is primarily a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean cooking, with heavy to light influences from Thai, Portuguese, British and Arab cuisines - to name a few. This resulted in a symphony of flavors, making Malaysian cuisine highly complex.
- 1 Ingredients
- 2 Food types
- 2.1 Malay food
- 2.2 Malaysian Chinese food
- 2.3 Malaysian Indian food
- 2.4 East Malaysia
- 2.5 Cross-cultural adaptations and mixing cultures
- 3 Desserts and sweetmeats
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
A popular dish based on rice in Malaysia is nasi lemak, rice steamed with coconut milk and pandan (screwpine) leaves to give it a rich fragrance. It is customarily served with fried anchovies, peanuts, sliced cucumber, hard boiled eggs and a spicy chilli paste known as sambal. For a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also be served with a choice of curries, or a spicy meat stew called rendang. Of Malay origin, nasi lemak is often called the national dish. Although it is traditionally a breakfast dish, because of the versatility of nasi lemak in being able to be served in a variety of ways, it is now often eaten at any time of the day. Nasi lemak should not be confused with nasi dagang, which is from on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia â€” Terengganu and Kelantan â€” although both nasi lemak and nasi dagang can usually be found sold side-by-side for breakfast.
Congee is a type of rice porridge or gruel popular among Malaysia's ethnic communities. It is eaten primarily as a breakfast food or late supper. In Malaysia it is often considered particularly suitable for the sick as a mild, easily digestible food. Congee is called bubur in Malay; ç²¥ written in Chinese, pronounced as zhou in Mandarin and juk in Cantonese; and kanji (à®•à®žà¯à®šà®¿) in Tamil. It may be served plain with little embellishment, or cooked with ingredients like fish slices, seafood, chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, and even spices. The importance and popularity of congee in the Malaysian diet is such that bubur ayam or chicken congee is a permanent fixture on the menu of Malaysia's McDonald's restaurants.
Noodles are another popular food, particularly in Malaysian Chinese cuisine, but used by other groups as well. Noodles such as bi hoon (ç±³ç²‰, Hokkien: bÃ-hÃºn, Malay: bihun; rice vermicelli), kuay teow (ç²¿æ¢, Hokkien: kÃ³e-tiÃ¢u) or ho fun (æ²³ç²‰, Cantonese: ho4 fan2; flat rice noodles), mee (éºµ or é¢, Hokkien: mÄ«, Malay: mi; yellow noodles), mee suah (éºµç·š or é¢çº¿, Hokkien: mÄ«-sÃ²aâ¿; wheat vermicelli), yee meen (ä¼Šéºµ or ä¼Šé¢, Cantonese: ji1 min6; golden wheat noodles), dongfen(å†¬ç²‰, Hokkien: tang-hÃºn, Cantonese: dung1 fan2; cellophane noodles), Lao Shu Fen (è€é¼ ç²‰, Cantonese: lou5 syu2 fan2; silver needle noodles), and others provide a source of carbohydrate besides the ubiquitous serving of rice that accompanies every meal.
Western style white bread is fairly common in the modern Malaysian diet today. A very typical way of serving bread in Malaysia is having it toasted and spread with kaya, a sweet spread made from a base of coconut milk, eggs and sugar. Reflecting the British colonial influence in Malaysia, kaya toast or roti bakar in Malay, is a popular breakfast staple and afternoon tea snack. It is typically paired with a cup of local brewed coffee or tea, and soft-boiled eggs to be seasoned to taste by the diner with soy sauce & ground white pepper. Roti kahwin is a variation where butter is sandwiched along with a layer of kaya between slices of untoasted white bread.
Traditional wheat-based pleated steamed bao or pao (Chinese : åŒ…) is a Chinese staple which has been integrated into Malaysian culture today. Pao are found in restaurants doing brunch dim sum trade, as well as specialist Chinese kopitiam. Sweet fillings may include tausa, lotus seed paste, kaya, pandan, ground peanuts, custard, and taro paste; savoury fillings may consist of char siu, chicken or pork. Malay versions (called pau in Malay) may be found in pasar malam (night markets) and they are always halal, with fillings of curried potato, chicken or beef. Some variants have a quail egg in the middle in addition to the curry.
Oven-baked bread buns are also available in specialist bakeries, kopitiam, and restaurants. One local specialty in particular - a bun with a buttery core and topped with a crispy and fragrant coffee pastry crust - has achieved iconic status in Malaysia and neighboring Singapore, and franchises like Rotiboy and Pappa Roti which specialize in these coffee buns have successfully expanded abroad to multiple nations and spawned hundreds of outlets.
Indian style bread such as roti canai, thosai (Tamil: à®¤à¯‹à®šà¯ˆ tÅcai /tÌªoËsaj/), idli (Tamil: à®‡à®Ÿà¯à®²à®¿ iá¹li /ÉªÉ–lÉª/) and poori (Tamil: à®ªà¯‚à®°à®¿ pÅ«ri /puËÉ¾Éª/) are popular with most Malaysians when dining out, and they are eaten at all times of the day.
Malaysian poultry is handled according to Halal standards, to conform with the country's dominant and official religion, Islam. Imported poultry is available at major hypermarkets, supermarkets & specialty stores especially in the affluent areas of Mont Kiara, Bangsar, Damansara Heights & Sri Hartamas where a significant expatriate community can be found.
Many types of seafood are consumed in Malaysia, including shrimp or prawn, crab, squid, cuttlefish, clams, cockles, snails, sea cucumber and octopus. In general, members of all ethnic communities enjoy seafood, which is considered halal by Malaysian Muslims (and indeed all other Muslims), though some species of crabs are not considered Halal as they can live on both land and sea. Sea cucumbers are considered halal.
Fish features in the Malaysian diet and most local fish is purchased the day after it is caught. Frozen fish is generally imported. Such fish, namely salmon and cod, are well received on the Malaysian table but are not caught by local fishermen. Imported fish are frozen and flown in as pieces or as whole fish and usually sold by weight.
Beef is common in the Malaysian diet though it is notable that followers of certain religions such as Hinduism and some followers of Buddhism such as monks forbid the consumption of beef, while some Buddhists say people can eat beef and other meat. Beef can be commonly found cooked in curries, stews, roasted, or with noodles. Malays generally eat beef that is halal. Australian fresh beef which is prepared under supervision of the Government Supervised Muslim Slaughter System (AGSMS) is imported into Malaysia and that beef is halal.
- Australian beef can also be found in supermarkets such as Giant.
- Fresh beef can be found in supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Mutton is also a part of the Malaysian cuisine. It generally refers to goat meat rather than sheep. The meat is used in dishes such as goat soup, curries, or stews. Mutton is a popular with the Malaysian Indian community and is commonly served at home as well as in Indian restaurants.
Pork is largely consumed by the non-Muslim community in Malaysia like the Malaysian Chinese, natives like Iban, Kadazan, Orang Asli and expatriates. Most Malaysian Malays are Muslim and therefore do not consume pork since Islam forbids it. Most Malaysian Indians are Hindus and avoid pork out of religious reasons as well. This does not prohibit others from producing and consuming pork products. Pork can be bought in wet markets, supermarkets and hypermarkets. During the Nipah virus epidemic, over a million pigs were culled in an effort to contain the outbreak.
Vegetables are usually available year round as Malaysia does not have four seasons. During the rainy season, sometimes vegetable yield decreases but does not stop altogether. Therefore, vegetables can be purchased throughout the year but are slightly more expensive at certain times of the year.
Malaysia's climate allows for fruit to be grown all year round. Most tropical fruits are either grown in Malaysia, or imported from neighbouring countries. The demand for fruits is generally quite high - a huge variety of tropical fruits are commonly served as desserts in Malaysia, and fruit juices are highly sought after as drinks of choice in a climate that is hot and humid all year round. Some notable fruits include:
- The banana, or pisang in Malay. Many different cultivars are available on the market, and other parts of the banana plant may be used for culinary purposes.
- The calamansi lime, or limau kasturi in Malay. Widely used as a souring agent in Malaysian cooking, the juice of the calamansi lime is also savoured on its own, with ice and secondary flavourings such as green apple juice, pandan leaves and salted dried plums.
- The cempedak, a fruit with a large and rough pod like body. The edible flesh coating each pod is sweet in taste, and has a soft texture that is custard-like.
- The coconut, or kelapa in Malay. Coconut water is popular and widely available given Malaysia's hot and humid climate, while coconut flesh as well as the milk and oil produced from the flesh are essential ingredients for Malaysian cooking. Even hollowed out coconut husk and shells are useful as a source of charcoal to fuel barbecued meats and traditional pastry making.
- The durian, a fruit with a spiky outer shell and a characteristic odour is a local tropical fruit that is notable because it provokes strong emotions either of loving it or hating it. It is also known as the "King of the Fruits". Several species of durian exist throughout Malaysia - common cultivars come with pale cream or yellow coloured arils, whereas some varieties found in in Borneo are naturally bright red, orange or even purple in colour.
- The guava, called jambu or "jambu batu" in Malay. It is a crunchy fruit often eaten on its own or garnished with a seasoning mix.
- The honeydew, or tembikai susu in Malay. This aromatic green melon is often cut up and served with cooked translucent sago in chilled coconut milk as a dessert.
- The jackfruit, or nangka in Malay. It is an enormous fruit similar in appearance to cempedak, but quite different in taste and texture. The fleshy covering of each pod is firm and sweet. Unripe jackfruit is occasionally used for cooking savoury meals.
- The langsat, a fruit which are borne in clusters similar to grapes and resemble tiny potatoes, with a taste likened to a sweet and tart combination of grape and grapefruit. A second, larger variety known as duku generally bear fruit which are large, generally round, and have somewhat thick skin that does not release sap when cooked. The seeds are small with thick flesh, a sweet scent, and a sweet or sour alin.
- The longan, which name translates to 'dragon eye' in Chinese. Not to be confused with mata kucing in Malay (literally 'cat's eye') which have quite similarities except mata kucing is slightly smaller and it is similar to lychee.
- The lychee, which has a bumpy red skin and sweet, juicy flesh. They are sold all year round.
- The mango, or mangga in Malay. Besides the ubiquitous common mango (mangifera indica), the bambangan is a notable species of wild mango found only in Borneo. For the Kadazandusun community, unripe bambangan is used in simmered dishes, the ripe fruit may be pickled to make noonsom bambangan, and even its seed becomes an important cooking ingredient once dried and grated.
- The mangosteen, or manggis in Malay. In contrast to the durian, mangosteen is often called the "Queen of the Fruits".
- The papaya, or betik in Malay. Another common fruit available year round in Malaysia, and widely eaten to conclude a meal.
- The pineapple, or nanas in Malay. It is widely eaten as a fruit and used extensively in local cooking, such as a curried pineapple dish called pajeri nanas.
- The pomelo, or limau bali in Malay. It is also called limau tambun, after the town of Tambun in Perak state which is famed for its pomelo produce. As pomelos are associated with traditional Chinese festivities, most farms harvest twice a year in conjunction with Chinese New Year and Mid Autumn Festival.
- The rambutan, as the name suggests, have fleshy pliable spines or 'hairs' on its outer shell, which is usually red or yellow in colour. Once the hairy exterior is peeled away, the tender, fleshy, sweet and sour tasting fruit is revealed.
- The rose apple, called jambu merah or jambu air in Malay (not to be confused with jambu batu), is oblong-shaped with a shade of red or pink, with crisp and juicy white flesh.
- The soursop, known as durian belanda in Malay, and lampun to the Dusun people of Borneo. The fruit is commonly made into juice and smoothies, and the leaves of the soursop plant is boiled as a herbal infusion.
- The starfruit, or belimbing in Malay. Malaysia is a global leader in starfruit production by volume and ships the fruit widely to Asia and Europe.
- The tampoi is a small, tropical rainforest substorey fruit tree native to Southeast Asia, especially Borneo. The fruit is large, orange-skinned, white-fleshed, with a delicious tangy flavour somewhat like a mandarin or tangerine.
- The tarap, also called marang, is a fruit that is native to Borneo and is related to cempedak and jackfruit. While the fruits are about the same size and shape as a durian and also emits a noxious odour, the spines of the tarap are soft and rubbery compared to the durian's hard, thorny spines. The fruit itself is smooth, soft and creamy, and the flavour is reminiscent of sweet custard apple with a hint of tartness.
- The watermelon, or tembikai in Malay. This popular fruit comes in red and yellow varieties.
For a traditional Malay meal, rice (usually served as nasi kukus or plain steamed rice) is considered the centrepiece of a meal, with everything else considered as an accompaniment, relish or side for the rice. Malay cuisine bears many similarities to Indonesian cuisine, in particular some of the regional traditions from Sumatra. It has also been influenced by Chinese, Indian, Thai and many other cultures throughout history, producing a distinct cuisine of their own. Many Malay dishes revolve around a rempah, which is a spice paste or mix similar to an Indian masala. Rempahs are made by grinding up fresh and/or dried spices and herbs to create a spice paste which is then sauteed in oil to bring out the aromas.
When dining out in a traditional Malay restaurant (warung or kedai makan), you start with rice, and then help yourself from a buffet-style spread of dishes. This style of dining is known as nasi campur, which literally means "mixed rice". Like the Indonesian Nasi Padang, the cost of the meal would depend on what you take, and how many different items you choose from; generally meaty dishes cost more than vegetable dishes. A dipping relish called sambal is an essential accompaniment for most Malay dishes.
- Air bandung - a drink which consists of milk flavoured with rose cordial syrup, giving a pink colour. Despite the name, there is no connection to the city of Bandung in Indonesia. Bandung within this context refers to anything that comes in pairs or is mixed from many ingredients.
- Asam pedas - a sour and spicy stew of meat, with the core ingredients being tamarind and chili. Depending on region, tomatoes, okra, shredded torch ginger bud and Vietnamese coriander (Malay: daun kesum) may also be added. Usually cooked with fish like mackerel or stingray, although some recipes use chicken and even oxtail.
- Ayam goreng - deep fried chicken, typically marinated in a base of kunyit (turmeric) and other seasonings prior to cooking.
- Ayam masak merah - this dish literally means red-cooked chicken in English. Pieces of chicken are first fried to a golden brown then slowly braised in a spicy tomato sauce. Peas are sometimes added to the dish, and it is garnished with shredded kaffir lime leaves as well as coriander.
- Ayam percik - grilled marinated chicken basted with spiced coconut milk gravy. A specialty of Kelantan.
- Beyh Royale - a herbal beverage from Johor, brewed with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, kaffir lime and pandan leaves. Once served as a welcome drink for dignitaries in the court of the Johor Sultanate, Beyh Royale is now commercialized and available as a bottled cordial drink.
- Bubur lambuk - a popular congee consumed during the fasting month of Ramadhan, made with a mixture of spices and vegetables, although bubur lambuk may also be cooked with meat. It is usually cooked communally at a local mosque, which is then distributed to the congregation as a meal to break the fast every evening. In the state of Terengganu, uncooked keropok, budu, sweet potatoes, and dried shrimp may be added during the cooking of bubur lambuk for extra flavour.
- Budu - a pungent fish sauce, traditionally made by mixing anchovy and salt, which is allowed to ferment for 140 to 200 days. It is used as a dip and is normally eaten with fish, rice and raw vegetables.
- Cucur - Deep-fried fritters, sometimes known as jemput-jemput. Typical varieties include cucur udang (fritters studded with a whole unshelled prawn), cucur badak (sweet potato fritters), and cucur kodok (banana fritters).
- Gulai - the Malay term for a curried dish. The main ingredients for gulai may be poultry, beef, mutton, various kinds of offals, fish and seafood, and also vegetables such as cassava leaves and green/unripe jackfruit. Gulai gravy is usually yellowish-brown in color due to the sauteed and browned rempah which forms its base, and the addition of ground turmeric. The gravy's consistency may also vary in thickness.
- Ikan bakar - barbecued or char grilled fish, usually smeared with a sambal-based sauce. It may also be accompanied with air asam, a dip made from shrimp paste, onion, chillis and tamarind juice.
- Ikan goreng - a generic term for deep-fried fish, which is almost always marinated prior to cooking. There are countless recipes and variants for what is arguably the most popular and typical method of cooking fish in Malaysia.
- Kangkung belacan - Water convolvulus wok-tossed with sambal belacan, a pungent sauce of shrimp paste and hot chilli peppers. Various other vegetables are typically cooked this way, including pucuk paku pakis (ferns), bayam, sweet potato leaves and yardlong beans.
- Kacang pool - a dish of spiced broad beans blended with meat, which is loosely adapted from the Egyptian ful medames. Very popular in Johor today, it is garnished with chopped green chilli and onion, and served with calamansi lime, "sunny side up" egg, and a thick hunk of buttered and toasted white bread.
- Keropok lekor, a specialty of the state of Terengganu and other states along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is a slightly chewy fritter made from minced fish and sago flour. Lekor is sliced and fried just before serving, and is eaten with hot sauce.
- Kerutup or Kerutuk - meat or seafood braised with a base of rempah, fragrant herbs (usually pandan leaves) and a special blend of dried spices (of which the dish is named after). Coconut milk and kerisik (coconut which is grated, toasted, then ground to a paste) is added in the later cooking stages. It is traditional to the regional cuisines of Kelantan and Terengganu.
- Ketupat - boiled glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch. As the rice cooks, the grains expand to fill the pouch and the rice becomes compressed. This method of cooking gives the ketupat its characteristic form and texture. Usually eaten with rendang (a type of dry beef curry) or served as an accompaniment to satay or gado-gado. Ketupat is also traditionally served at open houses on festive occasions such as Eid (Hari Raya Aidilfitri).
- Laksa Johor - a variation of laksa from Johor. Boiled spaghetti is used instead of rice-based noodles, served with beansprouts in a sweet, light coconut gravy thickened with flaked fresh wolf herring and pulverized dried shrimp, seasoned with a customary dollop of fiery sambal.
- Laksa utara - northern-style laksa, as cooked and served in the states of Kedah and Perlis. It consists of rice noodles in a tart soup thickened with poached flaked fish, flavoured with asam gelugor and garnished with shredded cucumber and herbs. Neither coconut milk nor is a sauteed rempah used for laksa utara. Although recipes often vary from one household to another, boiled eggs and cashew plant shoots are considered to be characteristic garnishes for laksa in the region. Kedah-style laksa is sometimes accompanied with a coconut sambal, while freshwater eels may be used for laksa in Perlis.
- Laksam or Laksang - a different take on laksa from the northeastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu. Laksam consists of thick flat rice noodle rolls in a full-bodied, rich and slightly sweet white gravy of minced fish, coconut milk and shredded aromatic herbs.
- Masak kicap consists of kicap manis and soy sauce as the main seasonings. This versatile sauce may be used as a braising liquid or dressing for meat and seafood.
- Masak lemak is a style of cooking which employs liberal amounts of turmeric-seasoned coconut milk. Sources of protein like chicken, fish and shelled molluscs, as well as various vegetables such as bamboo shoots and sweet potato leaves, are often cooked this way. Depending on regional traditions, cili padi or pineapple may be added to serve as a piquant or tart foil for the richness of the coconut milk gravy.
- Mee Bandung Muar is a noodle dish originating from Johor, specifically from Muar. Like air bandung, the name of this dish is not derived from the Indonesian city of Bandung. Dried shrimp is one of the key ingredients.
- Mee udang - Malay-style noodles served with fresh prawns in a prawn-flavoured tomato based gravy. A dish commonly found along the coast of Penang island.
- Nasi berlauk - literally "rice with dish". This term has a specific context in usage, which refers to a typical Kelantanese breakfast meal of plain rice served with cucumber slices, sambal, and usually a gulai or kerutup.
- Nasi dagang - rice cooked with coconut milk and fenugreek seeds, served with fish curry (tuna or ikan tongkol cooked with turmeric-coloured coconut milk), fried shaved coconut, hard-boiled eggs and vegetable pickles. Nasi dagang is another staple breakfast dish in the states of Kelantan and Terrenganu.
- Nasi goreng - a generic term for fried rice, of which there are many, many different permutations and variations.
- Nasi goreng kampung is a typical variant, traditionally stir-fried with sliced chilli, chopped snake bean, shredded kangkung and pounded fried fish (traditionally mackerel), though modern recipes tend to employ fried anchovies or ikan bilis instead.
- Nasi goreng pattaya, fried rice enveloped within a pocket of thin omelette and garnished with tomato sauce. Its name imply a Thai influence.
- Nasi paprik - fried rice seasoned with sauteed chili paste. Another Thai-influenced fried rice dish.
- Nasi himpit - Pressed cakes of plain rice, called lontong in Indonesia. Nasi himpit is often used as a substitute for ketupat due to its ease of preparation.
- Nasi kerabu - rice dyed blue from the petals of Clitoria ternatea (butterfly pea) flowers (kembang telang). From the northeastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu, nasi kerabu is eaten with dried fish or fried chicken, crackers, pickles and salads.
- Nasi minyak - rice flavoured with whole dried spices and ghee, usually eaten with rendang or kerutup. As the name implies, it is on the buttery and rich side (minyak means oil). A variation of nasi minyak dyed in multiple shades of colour is called nasi hujan panas.
- Nasi tomato - rice cooked with tomato sauce or paste, milk, dried spices, and a sauteed rempah base of garlic, onions, ginger. This specialty dish often served for festive occasions.
- Nasi ulam is a herbed rice salad consisting of a variety of herbs and greens (daun kaduk, daun cekur, daun kesum and so on) shredded thinly and mixed raw into hot rice with pounded dried shrimp, kerisik and chopped shallots.
- Pulut panggang - char grilled rice parcels with a spiced filling of pulverized dried prawns or desiccated coconut wrapped in banana leaves. The Kelantanese variant includes serundeng daging as a filling, whereas pulut panggang in Sarawak contain no fillings and are wrapped in pandan leaves instead.
- Rendang - a spicy meat and coconut milk stew originating from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia, many of whom have settled in the state of Negeri Sembilan. Buffalo meat is the most traditional choice for this dish, but beef and chicken are by far more commonly used for rendang in restaurants and home cooking. The common addition of kerisik is another distinctively Malaysian touch. Rendang is traditionally prepared by the Malay community during festive occasions, served with ketupat.
- Roti jala - The name is derived from the Malay word 'roti' (bread) and 'jala' (net). A special ladle with a five-hole perforation used to make the bread look like a fish net. It is usually eaten as an accompaniment to a curried dish, or served as a sweet with serawa. Serawa is made from a mixture of boiled coconut milk, brown sugar and pandan leaves.
- Roti john - a spiced meat omelette sandwich, popularly eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
- Sambal - the cornerstone of Malay cuisine. Sambal is a sauce made from chili peppers traditionally pounded together with a variety of secondary ingredients (the most basic and typical being belacan) and thinned with calamansi lime juice. It may also refer to a cooking style where meat, seafood and vegetables are braised in a robust sauce made with a base of rempah, sambal belacan, tomatoes, and various seasonings and spices.
- Sata or Satar - a quintessential specialty of Terengganu. Fragrant fish paste is mixed with chopped onion, ginger and chillies, which is then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over hot coals.
- Satay - one of Malaysia's most popular foods. Typically made from marinated beef and chicken cooked on a charcoal grill. Satay (written as sate in Malay) is typically served with cut onions and cucumber, ketupat, and spiced peanut gravy for dipping. The town of Kajang in Selangor is famous for its satay; Sate Kajang is a term for a style of sate where the meat chunks are bigger than that of a typical satay, and the sweet peanut sauce is served along with a portion of fried chilli paste.
- Serunding - spiced meat floss. Serunding may also refer to any dish where the primary meat or vegetable ingredient is shredded and pulled into thin strands. In Indonesia, this term strictly refers to a dry-toasted grated coconut mix instead.
- Sup Kambing - a hearty mutton soup slow simmered with aromatic herbs and spices, and garnished with fried shallots, fresh cilantro and a wedge of calamansi lime. Sup tulang is a similar soup cooked with beef ribs and the same herbs and spices.
- Tempoyak - a popular Malay delicacy. It is durian extract which is fermented, preserved and kept in an urn. Commonly eaten with the accompaniment of chillies and other condiments during meals. Tempoyak is used extensively in the local cookery of the states of Pahang and Sarawak as a relish and seasoning.
- Ulam - a traditional salad of raw, undressed herbs and vegetables. An ulam spread may include items such as banana blossoms, cucumber, winged beans, pegaga leaves, petai, and yardlong beans. Ulam is typically eaten with anchovies, cincalok or shrimp paste.
There are certain Malaysian dishes with overt Javanese influences or are direct adaptations from Javanese cuisine, brought to Malaysia by Javanese immigrants who have been assimilated or integrated into the wider Malay community, to various degrees.
- Ayam penyet - Deep fried chicken which is then smashed prior to serving. The other key component to this dish is a spicy sambal. Other accompaniments include cucumbers, fried tofu and tempeh.
- Botok botok - steamed banana leaf parcels of sliced fish seasoned with ground spices and shredded herbs.
- Mee rebus - a famous noodle dish which consists of egg noodles served with a tangy, spicy and sweet potato-based sauce. It is sometimes also called mee jawa, perhaps as a nod to its Javanese origins.
- Nasi ambeng - popular in Johor, nasi ambeng refers to a platter of white rice served with dishes like chicken cooked in soy sauce or curried gravy, stir fried noodles, sambal goreng, fried shredded coconut pieces, egg, vegetables and so on.
- Nasi kuning - rice cooked with coconut milk and turmeric. A common breakfast dish in certain regions like the east coast of Sabah, where it is typically served with sambal, eggs, coconut-based serundeng, and spiced fish. Not to be confused with the Peranakan nasi kunyit, which uses glutinous rice.
- Pecal - very similar to gado gado, pecal consists of long beans, cucumber slices, beansprout, fried tofu, blanched kangkung and tempeh dressed in a special peanut sauce.
- Rempeyek - deep-fried savoury cracker made from flour (usually rice flour) with other ingredients (such as peanuts) bound or coated by crispy flour batter.
- Sayur lodeh - a stew of vegetables cooked in a lightly spiced coconut milk soup. Often served with additional condiments added either during cooking or in individual servings.
- Soto - Meat broth, typically served with plain rice, lontong, or noodles depending on regional variation as well as personal preference.
- Tauhu bakar - char grilled tofu cut into cubes and served with a dipping sauce.
- Telur pindang - marbled eggs boiled with herbs and spices. Commonly seen in wedding feasts and festive occasions, particularly in Johor.
- Tempeh - a staple source of protein in Javanese cuisine, made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty, which can then be cooked and served in a variety of ways.
Malaysian Chinese food
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Much of Malaysian Chinese food is derived from mainland southern Chinese cuisine, such as Fujian cuisine, Cantonese cuisine and Teochew cuisine. Although it has been extensively influenced by local ingredients and dishes from other cultures, it remains distinctly Chinese. Many Chinese dishes have pork as a component ingredient, but chicken is available as a substitution for Muslim customers from the wider community, and certain Chinese restaurants are even halal-certified.
- Bak Kut Teh (Chinese : è‚‰éª¨èŒ¶) (pork ribs soup). The root meaning for the dish, "Bak Kut" (Hokkien dialect) is the term for meaty ribs, at its simplest cooked with garlic, dark soy sauce and a specific combination of herbs and spices which have been boiled for many hours. Popularly regarded as a health tonic, this soup is historically eaten by hard working Chinese coolies working on the wharfs at Port Swettenham (now Port Klang) and clearing estates, accompaniment with strong tea ("Teh") on the side. There are some differences in seasoning amongst other Chinese communities; the Teochew prefer a clear broth which is heavier on garlic and pepper, while the Cantonese may include additional varieties of medicinal herbs and spices. Variations include the so-called chik kut teh (made with chicken and a version that is gaining popularity with Muslim diners), seafood bak kut teh, and a "dry" (reduced gravy) version which originated from the town of Klang.
- Bakkwa (Chinese : è‚‰å¹²), literally "dried meat". Better understood as barbequed meat jerky. While this delicacy is especially popular during the Chinese New Year celebration period, it is available everywhere and eaten year round as a popular snack.
- Banmian or Pan Mee (Chinese : æ¿é¢). Noodle soup served with hand-kneaded and torn pieces of noodles or regular strips of machine-pressed noodles, with a toothsome texture not unlike Italian pasta. A current popular variation of it commonly known as "chilli pan mee" consists of the blanched noodles served with minced pork, a poached egg and fried anchovies. The dish typically comes with a bowl of clear soup with leafy vegetables. The fried chilli flakes are added in by the person consuming it according to the level of tolerance he or she can take.
- Buddhist vegetarian cuisine (Chinese : ç´ é£Ÿ, æ–Ž). Certain restaurants serve Chinese dishes which resemble meat dishes in look and even taste, yet they are made solely from vegetarian ingredients. Usually run by ethnic Chinese proprietors who abstain from consumption of meat for religious reasons, the menu usually includes items made with locally produced meat analogues like "roast pork", fried "fish" with "skin" and "bones", and "chicken drumsticks" complete with a "bone".
- Cantonese fried noodles (Chinese : å»£åºœç‚’) refers to a preparation of noodles which are shallow or deep fried to a crisp, then served as the base for a thick egg and cornstarch white sauce cooked with sliced lean pork, seafood, and green vegetables like choy sum. A related dish called wa tan hor (Chinese : æ»‘æ—¦æ²³) uses hor fun noodles, but the noodles are not deep fried, merely charred. Another variation called yuen yong (Chinese : é´›é´¦) involves mixing both crisp-fried rice vermicelli as well as hor fun to form a base for the sauce.
- Chai tow kway (Chinese : èœé ç²¿) - a common dish in Malaysia and Singapore made of rice flour. It also known as fried radish cake, although no radish is included within the rice cakes, save perhaps the occasional addition of preserved radish (Chinese: èœåœƒ) during the cooking process. Seasonings and additives vary from region, and may include bean sprouts and eggs.
- Char kway teow (Chinese : ç‚’ç²¿æ¢ï¼Œç‚’æ²³ç²‰). Stir fried rice noodles with bean sprouts, prawns, eggs (duck or chicken), chives and thin slices of preserved Chinese sausages. Cockles and lardons were once standard offerings, but mostly relegated to optional additions these days due to changing taste preferences and growing health concerns. Penang-style char kway teow is the most highly regarded variant both in Malaysia as well as abroad.
- Chee cheong fun (Chinese : è±¬è…¸ç²‰) is square rice sheets made from a viscous mixture of rice flour and water. This liquid is poured onto a specially made flat pan in which it is steamed to produce the square rice sheets. The steamed rice sheets is rolled or folded for ease in serving. It is usually served with tofu stuffed with fish paste. The dish is eaten with accompaniment of semi sweet fermented bean paste sauce, chilli paste and/or light vegetable curry gravy. Up north in the city of Ipoh, certain stalls serve the dish with a red sweet sauce, thinly sliced pickled green chillies and fried shallots.
- Chwee kueh (Chinese: æ°´ç²¿) - Teochew-style steamed bowl-shaped rice cakes topped with diced preserved radish and chilli relish.
- Curry chicken bread (Chinese : å’–å–±é¢åŒ…é¸¡). A Kampar specialty of bread or bun bowl filled with mild curried chicken.
- Curry Mee (Chinese : å’–å–±é¢). A bowl of thin yellow noodles mixed with bihun in a spicy curry soup enriched with coconut milk, and topped with tofu puffs, prawns, cuttlefish, chicken, long beans, cockles and mint leaves, with sambal served on the side. It is often referred to as curry laksa.
- Fish head bihun (Chinese : é±¼å¤´ç±³ç²‰). A noodle soup in which the main ingredients are rice vermicelli and a deep fried fish head cut into chunks. The soup itself is somewhat creamy, which is usually achieved using a mixture of rich fish stock and milk. Tomatoes and pickled vegetables are sometimes added to cut the richness and provide a tangy foil for the noodle soup.
- Fried bihun (Chinese : ç‚’ç±³ç²‰). Stir-fried rice vermicelli noodles. Many variations exist throughout the Chinese communities in Malaysia. It can be seasoned with fish sauce, soy sauce or a spice paste; completely vegetarian with greens and tofu products, or cooked with meat-based ingredients such as barbecued pork, prawns, fish, fish cakes etc. Malaysian-style mee siam (Chinese : éºµæš¹) is often prepared as a stir-fried dish.
- Fuzhou cuisine can be found in the Sitiawan area, as well as several cities and towns in Sarawak where the Hookchiu diaspora have formed settlements. Specialities include ang zhao mee sua (Chinese : çº¢æ§½é¢çº¿), and kompyang or kompia (Chinese : å…‰é¤…).
- Guangxi style steamed chicken (Chinese : å¹¿è¥¿ç™½åˆ‡é¸¡). Steamed chicken is the most important heritage dish for Malaysian Chinese who are descendants of immigrants from Guangxi province, and is always served during festive or special occasions. It is always eaten with nam, a dipping sauce prepared with chopped garlic chives, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce.
- Hainanese Chicken Rice (Chinese : æµ·å—é›žé£¯). Moist, tender chicken is prepared with traditional Hainanese methods, which involve steeping the entire chicken at sub-boiling temperatures within a master stock, reusing the broth over and over and only topping it up with water when needed. It is then chopped up, and served with a bowl or plate of rice cooked in chicken fat & chicken stock, along with another bowl of clear chicken broth and a set of dips and condiments. Sometimes the chicken is dipped in ice to produce a jelly-like skin finishing upon the completion of the poaching process. In Malacca, the chicken rice is served moulded into balls.
- Ngah Choy Kai (Chinese : èŠ½èœé›ž). In Ipoh, poached chicken is accompanied with a plate of blanched locally grown bean sprouts, in a simple dressing made from soy sauce and sesame oil. The crunchy and stout texture of Ipoh-grown bean sprouts is attributed to the mineral-rich properties of local water supplies. The chicken may be served with plain or chicken rice, but it is also popularly served as a topping along with the aforementioned bean sprouts for hor fun noodles in a chicken broth.
- Hakka cuisine can be found throughout the country, as there is a substantial Hakka community within the greater Chinese population. Hakka mee (Chinese : å®¢å®¶éºµ), noodles topped with a minced meat gravy, is an example of a popular hawker dish with Hakka cultural roots. It is based on an older recipe called Dabumian (Chinese : å¤§åŸ”éºµ); the name indicates its place of origin as Dabu County, the center of Hakka culture in mainland China.
- Ngiong tew foo (Chinese : é…¿è±†è…) is a dish of tofu stuffed with meat paste (typically pork), which is now popular throughout Malaysia. A localized variant originally developed in Ampang, Selangor is also popular in Malaysia, pronounced in the Cantonese manner as yong tau foo. brinjals, lady fingers, tofu puffs, tofu skin, bitter melon and chillies are also stuffed with the same meat paste used for the original tofu version, and fish paste is commonly used instead of pork.
- Hokkien Mee (Chinese : ç¦å»ºç‚’éºµ). A dish of thick yellow noodles braised and fried with thick black soy sauce and crispy lardons. Originally developed in Kuala Lumpur, Hokkien mee can be found in many towns and cities with a substantial Chinese community. In Penang however, this dish is always known as Hokkien Char; instead, Hokkien mee is the local term for a completely different dish, which is known in other parts of Malaysia as Hae mee or Prawn Mee (Chinese : è¦éºµ). One of Penang's most famous specialties, it is a noodle soup with bihun and yellow noodles immersed in an aromatic stock made from prawns and pork (chicken for halal versions), and garnished with a boiled egg, poached prawns, chopped kangkung and a dollop of spicy sambal.
- Ipoh white coffee (Chinese : æ€¡ä¿ç™½å’–å•¡). A popular coffee drink which originated in Ipoh. Unlike the robust dark roast used for typical Malaysian-style black coffee ("Kopi-O"), "white" coffee is produced with only palm oil margarine and without any sugar and wheat, resulting in a significantly lighter roast. It is typically enriched with condensed milk prior to serving.
- Kam Heong (Chinese : é‡‘é¦™). Literally "golden fragrance" in English, Kam Heong is a method of cooking developed in Malaysia, and is a good example of the country's culinary style of mixing cultures. The tempering of aromatics with birdâ€™s eye chilies, curry leaves, crushed dried shrimp, curry powder, oyster sauce and various other seasonings yields a versatile stir-fry sauce that goes well with chicken, clams, crabs, prawns, pork and squid.
- Kway chap (Chinese : ç²¿æ±). Teochew dish of rice noodle sheets in a dark soy sauce gravy, served with pork pieces, pig offal, tofu products and boiled eggs.
- Lor Bak(Chinese : æ»·è‚‰) is a fried meat roll made from spiced minced pork and chopped water chestnuts rolled up in soya bean curd sheets, and deep fried. It is usually served with small bowl of Lor (a thick broth thickened with corn starch and beaten eggs) and chili sauce. The term also extends to other items sold alongside the meat rolls, like tao kwa (hard tofu), pork sausages, tofu skin sheets etc.
- Lor Mee (Chinese : æ»·éºµ). A bowl of thick yellow noodles served in a thickened gravy made from eggs, starch and pork stock.
- Marmite chicken (Chinese : å¦ˆèœœé¸¡). A uniquely Malaysian dish of marinated fried chicken pieces glazed in a syrupy sauce made from an unusual combination of marmite, soy sauce, maltose and honey. This dish may also be prepared with other ingredients like pork ribs and prawns.
- Ngah Po Fan or Sha Po Fan (Chinese : ç“¦ç…²é£¯ or æ²™ç…²é¥). Seasoned rice cooked in a claypot with secondary ingredients, and finished with soy sauce. A typical example is rice cooked with chicken, salted fish, Chinese sausage, and vegetables. Claypots are also used for braising noodles, meat dishes and reducing soups.
- Oyster omelette or O-chian (Chinese : èšç…Ž). A medley of small oysters is sauteed on a hot plate before being folded into an egg batter, which then has moistened starch mixed in for thickening, and finally fried to a crisp finish. Unlike other versions of oyster omelettes found throughout the Hokkien and Teochew diasporas, a thick savory gravy is never poured onto Malaysian-style oyster omelettes; a chilli sauce is provided on the side for dipping instead.
- Popiah (Chinese : è–„é¥¼), Hokkien/Teochew-style crepe stuffed and rolled up with cooked shredded tofu and vegetables like turnip and carrots. The Peranakan version contains julienned bangkuang (jicama) and bamboo shoots, and the filling is seasoned with tauchu (fermented soybean paste) and meat stock. Another variation consists of popiah doused in a spicy sauce. Popiah can also be deep fried and served in a manner similar to the mainstream Chinese spring roll.
- Rojak (Chinese: æ°´æžœå›‰å–). A fruit and vegetable salad bound with a viscous dark sauce made from shrimp paste, sugar, chili, and lime juice. The Penang version is particularly popular and well regarded. The dish is usually topped with a generous sprinkling of toasted ground peanuts.
- Seremban Siew Pau (Chinese : èŠ™è“‰çƒ§åŒ…). The town of Seremban is famous for its siew pau, a flaky oven-baked pastry bun with a treacly BBQ pork and green pea filling. Chicken is available as a halal option.
- Teochew porridge, known as muay (Chinese : ç³œ) in the Teochew dialect, is a type of rice porridge or soup. Unlike congee, Teochew porridge is thin and watery in texture, with visible rice grains (and sometimes pieces of sweet potatoes as well) sitting loosely at the bottom of the bowl. Eaten as a substitute for rice instead of a complete meal by itself, it is always served with an assortment of side dishes like vegetables, meat and salted egg. At Teochew porridge restaurants, one can easily find a buffet spread of at least two dozen different dishes to choose from.
- Wonton Mee (Chinese : é›²åžéºµ), thin egg noodles with wonton dumplings (Chinese : é›²åž), choy sum and char siu. The dumplings are usually made of pork and/or prawns, and typically boiled or deep fried. The noodles may be served in a bowl of soup with dumplings as in the traditional Cantonese manner, but in Malaysia it is more commonly dressed with a dark soy sauce dressing and topped with boiled or deep-fried wonton dumplings, pork slices and vegetables. Variations of this dish are usually in the accompanying meat servings with the noodles. These may include roast pork (çƒ§è‚‰), braised chicken feet, and roast duck (çƒ§é¸). For the latter, the dumplings will be served in a separate bowl with soup.
- Yam rice (Chinese : èŠ‹å¤´é¥) - a savory rice dish cooked with taro, Chinese sausage, chicken, dried prawns and mushrooms. It is often served as an accompaniment for dishes like bak kut teh or yong tau foo.
- Yau Zha Gwai or Eu Char Kway or You Tiao (Chinese : æ²¹ç‚¸é¬¼ or æ²¹æ¡) is version of the traditional Chinese crueller, which is a breakfast favourite. It can be eaten plain with coffee, spread with butter and/or kaya, or dipped into congee. It is shaped like a pair of chopsticks, stuck together. The name itself amusingly translates into "greasy fried ghosts". Some commercial outlets have started serving them with an option of either savory congee or hot sweetened soy milk.
- Yusheng (Chinese : é±¼ç”Ÿ) - a Teochew-style raw fish salad. While versions of it are thought to have existed in China, the contemporary version is created and developed in neighbouring Singapore. It consists of strips of raw fish mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments. Yusheng literally means "raw fish" but since "fish (é±¼)" is commonly conflated with its homophone "abundance (ä½™)", YÃºshÄ“ng (é±¼ç”Ÿ) is interpreted as a homophone for YÃºshÄ“ng (ä½™å‡) meaning an increase in abundance. Therefore yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor, and as a result its consumption is exclusively associated with Chinese New Year festivities in Malaysia and Singapore.
Malaysian Indian food
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Malaysian Indian cuisine, or the cooking of the ethnic Indian communities in Malaysia consists of adaptations of authentic dishes from India. Before the meal it is customary to wash hands as cutlery is often not used while eating, with the exception of a serving spoon for each respective dish. This cuisine consists of curries which a liberal use of whole and powdered spice, fresh coconut in various forms, and curry leaves. Ghee is still widely used as a cooking fat, although vegetable oils and refined palm oils are now commonplace in home kitchens. Because the vast majority of Malaysian Indians are of South Indian descent, a typical meal at home as well as specialist banana leaf restaurants may consist of plain white rice served on banana leaves with an assortment of vegetable preparations, condiments, and papadum crackers, as well as a selection of curried meat or fish for non-vegetarians, to be customarily consumed by hand.
Mamak (Indian Muslims) dishes have developed a distinctly Malaysian style. Available throughout the country, the omnipresent Mamak stalls or restaurants are particularly popular with local people as they offer a wide range of food and some outlets are open 24 hours a day. A type of Indian Muslim meal served buffet-style at specialist Mamak eateries is called nasi kandar (analogous to the Malay nasi campur, where you pay for what you have actually eaten), white rice or briyani rice served with other dishes of curry either with chicken, fish, beef, or mutton, and usually accompanied with pickled vegetable and papadums.
Type of food found in Malaysian Indian Cuisine
- Chapati is a type of Punjabi style flatbread. It is made from a dough of atta flour (whole grain durum wheat), water and salt by rolling the dough out into discs of approximately twelve centimeters in diameter and browning the discs on both sides on a very hot, dry tava or frying pan (preferably not one coated with Teflon or other nonstick material). Chapatis are usually eaten with vegetable curry dishes, and pieces of the chapati are used to wrap around and pick up each bite of the cooked dish.
- Fish head curry - a dish where the head of a fish (usually ikan merah, or literally "red fish"), is braised in a thick and spicy curry with assorted vegetables such as okra and brinjal.
- Idli - made from a mashed mixture of skinned black lentils and rice formed into patties, usually two to three inches in diameter, using a mold and steamed. Most often eaten at breakfast or as a snack, idli are usually served in pairs with chutney, sambar, or other accompaniments.
- Kurma - Malaysian-style korma is usually made with chicken or mutton, braised with a medley of ground spices, nuts, and coconut milk or grated coconut. The spice blend for kurma is widely found pre-mixed and marketed commercially as "kurma powder".
- Mee goreng mamak - as the name suggests, Mamak-style stir-fried yellow egg noodles is a specialty of the ubiquitous Mamak restaurant or stall, although no two recipes from restaurant to restaurant are ever the same. The noodles may be wok-tossed with bean sprouts, chilli, boiled potatoes, greens, eggs, tofu, and meat of choice. It is usually accompanied with a calamansi lime. A typical variation uses Maggi instant noodles instead of yellow egg noodles.
- Murukku is a savoury snack of spiced crunchy twists made from rice and urad dal flour, traditionally eaten for Deepavali.
- Naan is a leavened, clay oven baked flatbread. It is often served as an accompaniment for tandoori chicken, and may be plain or flavoured with garlic and/or cheese.
- Nasi Beriani or Biryani is a rice dish made from a mixture of spices, basmati rice, meat/vegetables and yogurt. The ingredients are ideally cooked together in the final phase and is time-consuming to prepare. Pre-mixed biryani spices from different commercial names are easily available in markets these days, which reduces the preparation time though the taste differs considerably.
- Pasembur is a salad of shredded cucumber, boiled potatoes, fried bean curd, turnip, bean sprouts, prawn fritters, spicy fried crab, and fried octopus. It is served with a sweet and spicy nut sauce. Also known as Mamak rojak.
- Pongal is a boiled rice dish which comes in sweet and spicy varieties. It shares the same name as the harvest festival which is celebrated every January; the name of the festival itself is derived from this dish. The sweet variety of pongal, prepared with milk and jaggery, is cooked in the morning. Once the pongal pot has boiled over (symbolism for an abundant harvest), it is then offered as a prasad to the gods as thanksgiving.
- Poori is an unleavened deep-fried wheat bread, commonly consumed for breakfast, or as a light meal.
- Putu Mayam, also known idiyappam is the Indian equivalent of rice noodles. Homemade versions tend to be eaten as an accompaniment to curried dishes or dal. The street food version however is served as a dessert with grated coconut and jaggery, or unrefined brown sugar. In some areas, gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) is the favoured sweetener. Putu piring is a version of putu mayam in which the rice flour dough is used to form a small cake around a filling of coconut and brown sugar.
- Rasam is a type of lentil soup flavoured with pepper, coriander and cumin seeds.
- Roti canai is a thin unleavened bread with a flaky crust, fried on a skillet with oil and served with condiments. It is sometimes referred to as roti kosong. A host of variations on this classic dish may be found at all mamak restaurants, either at the creative whim of the cook or by customers' special request. A few examples include: roti telur (fried with eggs), roti bawang (fried with thinly sliced onions), roti boom (a smaller but thicker roti, usually round in shape), roti pisang (banana), and so on.
- Murtabak is a dish of savoury stuffed roti. A typical recipe consists of minced mutton, garlic, and onion folded with an omelette, and is eaten with curry sauce. During the fasting month of Ramadan, it is popularly eaten with a side of sweet pickled onions.
- Roti tissue is a variant of roti canai. This flatbread is made as thin as a piece of 40â€“50 cm round-shaped tissue in density. It is then carefully folded by the cook into a tall, conical shape and left to stand upright. Roti tissue may be served with curry gravy, dal and chutneys, or finished off with sweet substances such as caramelized sugar and eaten as a dessert.
- Sambar is a thick stew of lentils (dal) with vegetables and seasoned with spices.
- Tandoori chicken - chicken marinated in a mixture of spices and yoghurt, and cooked in a clay oven or tandoor.
- Teh tarik literally meaning "pulled tea", is a well-loved Malaysian drink. Tea is sweetened using condensed milk, and is prepared using outstretched hands to pour piping hot tea from a mug into a waiting glass, repetitively. The higher the "tarik" or pull, the thicker the froth. The "pulling" of tea also has the effect of cooling down the tea. Teh tarik is an art form in itself and watching the tea streaming back and forth into the containers can be quite captivating. Similar drinks and variants include kopi tarik, or "pulled coffee" instead of tea; teh halia, tea brewed with ginger, and with or without the tarik treatment; and teh madras, which is prepared with three separate layers: milk at the bottom, black tea in the middle and foam at the top.
- Thosai or dosai is a soft crepe made from a batter of mashed urad dal and rice, and left to ferment overnight. The batter is spread into a thin, circular disc on a flat, preheated griddle. It may be cooked as it is for (which results in a foldable and soft crepe), or a dash of oil or ghee is then added to the thosai and toasted for crispier results.
- Uttapam is a savoury pancake prepared from a similar batter used to make thosai. Toppings cooked right into the batter may include tomatoes, onion, chillies, capsicum and cabbage.
Across the sea from Peninsular Malaysia on Borneo island, lie the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Traditional lifestyles and limited roads still predominate outside of the major cities, especially in Sarawak, where rivers are the only major highways for much of the inland population. The jungles of Borneo are teeming with wild plants, herbs and fruits, and its sweeping coastlines and many large rivers provide an abundance of seafood and freshwater fish fit for the dinner table. A rich variety of traditional food has been developed by Borneo's many tribes and indigenous groups over the centuries; much of it is healthy food, consisting of foraged (now increasingly cultivated due to modernization) and fermented foods. Because much of the region was once under the Brunei Sultanate's thalassocracy, the Bruneian Malays have left a lasting culinary influence, particularly on the cookery of the coastal Muslim communities of East Malaysia.
Like Peninsular Malaysia, rice is the undisputed staple food for the majority of the people of Sabah and Sarawak. Rice is central to Kadazandusun culture, and its paramount importance is reflected in the annual Kaamatan festival, as well as traditional beliefs and customs since antiquity which revolve around the veneration of rice spirits. But for other ethnic communities throughout Sabah and Sarawak, cassava or tapioca tubers as well as sago starch are also popular staples. The tapioca tuber is just as important as rice to the Bajau people of Sabah, while the Dayak peoples of Sarawak make extensive use of both the tuber and leaves of the tapioca plant in their cooking. Sago starch is derived from the pith extracted from the sago palm, and is the staple food for the Bruneian Malay and Kedayan communities based in both East Malaysian states, as well as the Melanau and the Penan peoples of Sarawak. Sago starch is prepared as a gooey and sticky paste, called ambuyat or linut, and is eaten by rolling the paste around the prongs of a bamboo fork, and dipped it into soup, sambal belacan, or other varieties of gravies and dipping sauces. Aside from being the source for sago pith, the sago palm is a source of another delicacy for the indigenous peoples of Borneo: the sago grub. Called butod in Sabah and ulat mulong in Sarawak, sago grubs are typically eaten raw but also served deep fried, roasted or sauteed.
Historically speaking, fresh meats are often scarce for hunter-gatherer nomadic tribes around the world, thus it is usually preserved out of necessity for important events and festivals. The tribal peoples of Sabah and Sarawak are no different - most of them have developed age-old techniques for curing, fermenting or preserving their supplies of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. For example, the Murut people of Sabah would serve jaruk or jeruk (tamba in the Murut language) in small portions with rice or tapioca during festive occasions. It is made from fresh raw wild boar or river fish which is stuffed in bamboo tubes along with rice and salt and left to ferment for a few weeks, a technique which is also practiced by the Lun Bawang people across the border in Sarawak. Fermented products are also frequently used as a cooking ingredient besides eaten on its own. Dayak households in Sarawak may saute their version of fermented meat with garlic and tapioca leaves (which is also popularly prepared as a pickle), and fermented durian or tempoyak is a popular cooking seasoning in many Sarawakian kitchens.
The production and consumption of traditional liquor plays an important cultural role for the non-Muslim peoples of East Malaysia. Alcoholic drinks made from rice is the most common form and widely available. In Sabah, the Penampang Kadazan lihing is perhaps the most well known. Yet due to the lack of a standardized Kadazandusun language used and understood statewide, ethnic groups from other districts in Sabah have very different names for similar fermented rice-based drinks: hiing (certain Dusun languages), kinomol, segantang, kinarung, kinopi, linahas, and even tapai. To add to the confusion, tapai proper as understood by most Peninsular Malaysians is a fermented sweet or sour rice paste served as a snack or dessert, although further fermentation of the tapai to produce alcoholic drinks is possible. The preferred party drink of the Murut, made from the tuber of the cassava or tapioca plant, is also called tapai. The Iban of Sarawak call their rice wine tuak, which must not be confused with Sabahan talak, which is a hard liquor made from rice. To the native peoples of Sarawak, tuak may also refer to any alcoholic drink made from fermenting any carbohydrate-rich substance besides rice.
The food of Sabah reflects the ethnic diversity of its population and is very eclectic. Chinese-influenced dishes like northern Chinese jiaozi and Hakka stuffed tofu, along with many original creations developed in Sabah's interior settlements by immigrants from both northern and southern China throughout the 20th century, feature prominently on the menus of many kopitiam establishments and upscale restaurants. Sabah is notable for its excellent seafood, temperate produce grown in the highlands of Mt. Kinabalu, and a small coffee plantation industry with Tenom coffee considered the best produce in the region.
Indigenous communities outside of urban areas still make extensive use of locally available ingredients, particularly freshwater fish, wild boar (bakas in native dialects), bamboo shoots, wild ferns, and various jungle produce. Small scale festivals are even held each year at certain towns to celebrate a specific produce which are vital to the livelihoods of the local people: the Pesta Jagung of Kota Marudu, the Pesta Rumbia (sago) of Kuala Penyu, and Pesta Kelapa from the town of Kudat. Traditional Kadazandusun cuisine involves mostly boiling or grilling and employs little use of oil. From simple appetizers of seasoned unripe mango to a variety of pickled foods collectively known as noonsom, tangy and pungent flavours derived from souring agents or fermentation techniques is a key characteristic of traditional Kadazandusun cooking. Rice wine accompanies all Kadazandusun celebrations and rites, and at a Murut event there will be rows upon rows of jars with fermented tapioca tapai. Presently few eateries in Sabah serve traditional indigenous dishes, although it will always be found during festive occasions like weddings and funerals, as well as the Kaamatan and Kalimaran cultural festivals.
Whether grilled, cured, deep-fried, steamed, stir-fried, braised, served raw, or made into soups, Sabahâ€™s seafood is famed for its freshness, quality, and good value for money. A vast variety of fish, cephalopods, marine crustaceans, shellfish, sea cucumbers, jellyfish, and seaweed have become a mainstay on lunch and dinner menus at kopitiam, restaurants, and humble food shacks all over Kota Kinabalu and other coastal towns like Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu and Semporna. Seafood paired with noodles also figure prominently for breakfast, for each day locals flock to specialty eateries where they may be served an assortment of fish-based products to start the day. Examples include: poached patties handmade with fresh fish paste; deep-fried fish cakes wrapped in tofu skin sheets; and noodle soups with toppings like sliced fish fillet, fish balls, prawn balls, and fish innards. A few eateries even serve "noodles" rolled out with fresh fish paste.
Among the foods and beverages particular to Sabah are:
- Amplang is a type of cracker made from Spanish mackerel, tapioca starch and other seasonings, and then deep fried.
- Beaufort Mee (Chinese : ä¿ä½›ç‚’é¢) is a specialty of Beaufort town. Handmade noodles are first charred, then wok-tossed with meat (usually slices of char siu and marinated pork) or seafood and plenty of choy sum, and finished off with a thick viscous gravy.
- Bosou, also noonsom or tonsom, is the Kadazandusun term for a traditional recipe of tangy fermented meat paste. Smoked and pulverized buah keluak (nuts from the Kepayang tree (Pangium edule) which grows in Malaysia's mangrove swamplands), or pangi is a key ingredient and acts as a preservative. Combined with rice, salt and fresh meat or fish, the mixture is then placed into a sealed jar or container for fermentation. An aromatic mix of local spring onions, wild ginger flower buds, and a local variety of small white or pale yellow colored chilies are sometimes added to the bosou mixture. Pinongian is a variant where rice is omitted to produce a final product which is much less tangy in taste. Unlike bosou, pinongian must be cooked before serving.
- Century egg dumpling (Chinese : çš®è›‹é¥º) is a variation of Chinese jiaozi-style dumplings from Sandakan, with a filling made from century egg pieces, prawns, and pork or chicken. The wrappers used for this type of dumpling result in a texture that is closer to wontons, being thinner and less elastic.
- Chun gen (Chinese : è›‹å·) is an oblong roll of seasoned ground pork or beef wrapped with a thin omelette and steamed. In the Hakka dialect, egg sounds like "chun", hence the name. Said to originated in Tenom town, today chun gen is available throughout the state's Chinese communities. It may be eaten on its own, cooked in broth or soup, and stir-fried with noodles or vegetables.
- Edible seaweed is a traditional food for certain seaside communities throughout the state. Latok is similar in appearance to clusters of green-hued fish eggs or grapes, and is typically prepared as a salad by the Bajau people. Coral seaweed is another a popular seaplant product; in recent times it is marketed as a gourmet health food to both locals and tourists, and is given the moniker of "sea bird's nest" (Chinese : æµ·åº•ç‡•çª) as coral seaweed acquires a similar gelatinous texture when dissolved in water.
- Hinava is a traditional Kadazandusun dish of raw fish (typically firm fleshed white fish like mackerel) or prawns marinated with lime juice, sliced shallots, chopped chilli, julienned ginger and grated dried seed of the bambangan fruit. Optional additions may include sliced bitter gourd. Kilau from the Bajau community is a similar dish of raw fish (usually ikan bilis) marinated with calamansi lime juice or vinegar, sliced green mango, onions and chillies.
- Lihing is a sweet rice wine, exclusively made from glutinous rice and natural yeast called sasad. It is considered a specialty of the Kadazandusun community, where it is still commonly brewed at home. Lihing can be used to make chicken soup (sup manuk lihing), used in marinades, or even as an ingredient for meat pastries and stir-fried dishes. Commercially produced lihing, much pricier then the homebrewed version but consistent in quality, is also available in select souvenir shops. Lihing may also be distilled to make a hard liquor called montoku, otherwise known as talak.
- Nasi kombos is a rice dish from the Lotud community. Glutinous rice is first cooked with young coconut water, and then mixed with the grated tender flesh of a young coconut and some salt. The rice is traditionally served in a hollowed out coconut shell.
- Ngiu chap (ç‰›ä»€) is a Chinese-influenced dish of beef broth served with noodles, usually dunked in the soup with poached beef slices, meatballs, stewed brisket, tendon, liver and various offal parts. An iconic Sabahan dish, ngiu chap has many different variations, from the lighter Hainanese style to heartier Hakka-influenced flavours, and even village-style ngiu chap adapted for indigenous Sabahan tastes.
- Pinasakan or Pinarasakan is a home-style Kadazandusun dish of fish simmered with takob-akob (dried skin of a mangosteen-like fruit which functions as a souring agent) or slices of unripe bambangan, as well as fresh turmeric leaves and rhizome.
- Putu is a Bajau food made from grated tapioca, and eaten as an alternative staple to rice. The grated tapioca is squeezed to dry it out, then shaped into cylindrical tubes and steamed until it forms into a chewy and slightly elastic cake. Another traditional Bajau dish prepared with tapioca is tompek, which involves toasting grated and squeeze-dried tapioca until golden brown.
- Sagol pari or sinagol is a Bajau specialty of stingray which is first boiled and minced, then sauteed with turmeric, garlic, ginger, onions and crushed lemongrass. Traditionally the oil used is rendered fish liver oil, usually from the same fish used to prepare this dish. This dish may also be prepared with shark and even puffer fish.
- Sang nyuk mian (Chinese : ç”Ÿè‚‰é¢) is a dish of noodles served with pork broth, originating from Tawau. Very popular with the non-Muslim communities of Sabah, it is named after the poached-to-order slices of tender marinated pork served in pork broth which is flavoured with fried lard bits. The noodles (usually thick yellow noodles) are either dressed in dark soy and lard, or dunked into the soup along with the aforementioned pork slices, vegetables, meatballs and offal.
- Sayur manis, often sold as "Sabah vegetable" on local restaurant menus, is a cultivar of sauropus androgynus developed in Lahad Datu by an enterprising farmer, which yields more shoots then leaves in ratio. The shoots are sweet in flavour and crunchy without being hard or fibrous, and the leaves while minimal in number are very tender in texture. It is typically stir-fried with garlic, belacan or scrambled eggs.
- Sinalau refers to Kadazandusun style smoked meat, which is usually wild boar or bakas. Barbecued on a char grill and eaten with rice and dipping sauces, sinalau bakas can be found and purchased in rural areas and towns. Halal versions substitute wild boar for other game meats like deer.
- Spring noodle (Chinese : å½ˆå¼“é¢) is a type of egg noodles originally from Sandakan, with a very springy texture compared to most other noodle dishes found in Malaysia. It is typically tossed with a soy and sesame oil dressing, and served with dumplings and Hakka-style deep fried marinated pork (Chinese : ç‚¸è‚‰).
- Tuaran mee (Chinese : æ–—äºšå…°é¢) is a specialty of Tuaran town. This dish of wok fried fresh handmade noodles is well known in the nearby city of Kota Kinabalu as well as in neighbouring Tamparuli town, where the localized adaptation is called Tamparuli mee (Chinese : æ‹…æ³¢ç½—åˆ©ç‚’ç”Ÿé¢). The noodles must first be toasted with oil in the wok to prevent it from clumping together, then blanched to reduce the stiff crunchy texture from toasting. The final step involves stir frying the noodles to a crisp finish with eggs, vegetables, and meat or seafood.
- Tuhau (etlingera coccinea) is a type of wild ginger, specifically the stems of the same plant popularly served as a relish by the Kadazandusun community. The stems are typically chopped up and served fresh with lime juice, or mixed with local chives and chilli and then cured with salt and vinegar. A more recent recipe called serunding tuhau involves slicing tuhau stems into thin floss-like shreds, which is then sauteed until it becomes golden and crisp. It has a distinctive scent which is said to have a polarizing effect even among indigenous Sabahans.
The cuisine of Sarawak is rich in its diversity, and quite distinct from that of the Peninsular. Whether it is the traditional cuisine of the indigenous Dayak, Melanau and Orang Ulu peoples, or the food cultures of the ethnic Chinese as well as local Malays of Bruneian ancestry, most of these ethnic cuisines are now well represented in Sarawak's urban eateries and restaurants, particularly as public awareness and interest in Sarawak's cultural diversity has increased in recent years. Market produce is grown locally on a small scale in Sarawak, where many rural peoples still rely largely on wild edible plants. Because of their close proximity to the forests and lack of convenient access to urban areas, remote Dayak or Orang Ulu communities tend to supplement their cultivated produce by foraging or hunting from the wild; thus their culinary repertoire may include a wide range of rare or unusual produce, perhaps unheard of or not considered edible even by some of Sarawak's urban residents.
While the Iban comprises the largest Dayak subgroup as well as the most populous ethnic group in Sarawak, much of the ethnic Iban population is still concentrated away from Sarawak's main urban areas, congregating instead within longhouse communities scattered all over the interior regions of the state. The traditional cookery of the Iban is called pansoh or pansuh, which is the preparation and cooking of food in bamboo tubes. Ingredients like poultry, fish, pork, vegetables and/or rice are mixed with fragrant herbs like lemongrass, tapioca leaves and bungkang leaves (a species of myrtle from the Eugenia genus), then sealed within the bamboo tubes and placed directly over an open fire. Cooking food this way will infuse it with aroma and flavour from the bamboo tubes while keeping it moist. During the Dayak festivals or Gawai, the Iban would slaughter locally reared pigs to be barbecued. The pig would be cleaned thoroughly after the slaughter, and then it will have its head and stomach removed, and the rest of the pig would be cut into smaller pieces in preparation for barbecuing. The head and stomach of a pig are usually put aside and prepared separately as they are considered the choicest parts of the animal; hence pig's heads are a common edible gift brought by visitors to an Iban longhouse, and dishes such as perut babi masak nenas (pork stomach cooked with pineapples) are a must for Ari Gawai.
Rice grown in the Bario Kelabit Highlands is regarded as the finest variety in the region, if not the rest of Malaysia. Bario rice is grown mostly by the Orang Ulu tribal peoples according to traditional techniques, with no usage of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and only at elevations of up to 1,200 feet. It's prestigious status is such that traditionally, Bario rice is only eaten by a longhouse chief or tuai rumah on special occasions. Today, Bario rice is specially air-flown out of the Bario and Ba'kelalan highlands, and available to the general public in Sarawak and in selected grocers across other parts of Malaysia. Sarawak is also renowned for its pepper and sweet pineapples: black peppercorns grown in Sarawak are highly regarded by international culinary figures like Alain Ducasse, and the town of Sarikei is known for its annual pineapple festival, which celebrates the locally grown low acid, high shelf life variety.
Among the foods and beverages particular to Sarawak are:
- Belacan bihun is rice vermicelli dressed in a spicy, tangy gravy made from ground chillies, belacan, and dried shrimp. It is garnished with cured cuttlefish, julienned cucumber, bean sprouts and century egg wedges.
- Black pepper stew, or known in Malay as masak lada hitam, is a typical home-style dish from the Dayak communities. Many types of common and exotic meats can be used for the stew, including but not limited to chicken, beef, pork, goat, pigeon, wild boar, deer, and water snails. The meat is slow cooked with locally grown vegetables and herbs, and seasoned with liberal quantities of crushed peppercorns.
- Bubur pedas is a type of rice congee cooked with a specially prepared spice paste, or rempah made from turmeric, lemon grass, galangal, chillies, ginger, coconut and shallots. A fairly complex dish compared to most typical congee preparations, Bubur Pedas is often prepared during the month of Ramadan and served during the breaking of fast.
- Kolo mee or kolok mee (Chinese : å¹²æžé¢) is a dish of springy egg noodles tossed in a sweet and savoury shallot, lard and vinegar dressing, and topped with seasoned minced pork and char siu. It is similar to Peninsular-style Hakka mee or wonton mee in concept, but differs significantly in taste profile. Halal versions of kolo mee replace the pork components with beef (earning the moniker of mee sapi) or chicken, and lard with peanut or vegetable oil. Additional toppings may include mushrooms, chicken and crab meat. Kampua mee (Chinese: å¹²ç›˜é¢) is a related dish from Sibu of Fuzhou origin.
- Laksa Sarawak or Kuching Laksa (Chinese : å¤æ™‰å»æ²™) is rice vermicelli served in an aromatic coconut milk and stock-based soup, topped with shredded chicken, shredded egg, bean sprouts, prawns, coriander and chilli paste.
- Manok kacangma is a Chinese-influenced dish, traditionally taken by local women for confinement after giving birth. Manok kacangma consists of tender chicken pieces cooked with lots of garlic and kacangma. Non-Muslim cooks often season manok kacangma with some Chinese wine or tuak of their choice.
- Manok pansoh is the most typical Iban pansoh preparation of chicken cooked with bungkang leaves, lemongrass, ginger, and tapioca leaves. A related Bidayuh dish with rice added into the mixture is Asam Siok. These dishes are not commonly found in urban eateries and restaurants as roasting a bamboo tube over an open fire within a commercial kitchen is impractical.
- Midin, is a jungle fern which is somewhat similar to pucuk paku pakis that is popular in the Peninsular, but midin retains it crisp texture after cooking. Midin is usually fried with either garlic or belacan, although contemporary recipes also utilize midin as a salad ingredient. It is also known by the native peoples of Sabah as lembiding or lombiding, where both the leaves and the fiddleheads of the plant are eaten.
- Nasi goreng dabai is rice stir-fried with dabai (canarium odontophyllum), an indigenous fruit found only in Sarawak. It is often compared to an olive, due to their similarity in appearance as well as taste. Because dabai is highly perishable and also seasonal in nature, nasi goreng dabai is also prepared with preserved dabai.
- Nasik aruk is a traditional Malay fried rice. Unlike typical fried rice preparations, nasik aruk is cooked with little to no oil. The rice is also cooked for a longer period of time, wok toasted until it is caramelized with a smokey aroma.
- Nuba laya is steamed highland-grown rice which is mashed and wrapped in isip (Phacelophrynium maximum) leaves. Considered the centerpiece of a meal for the Lun Bawang and Kelabit people, accompaniments may include a small bowl of porridge (kikid), grilled fish or meat wrapped in banana leaves, shredded beef, deboned fish floss, wild jungle greens and vegetables prepared in various ways, and so on.
- Pucuk paku kubok or paku uban is a species of wild fern known botanically as nephrolepis acutifolia, otherwise referred to as sword ferns. The Iban have long foraged the fiddleheads of paku kubok as food, and they believe that paku kubok confers health benefits for women going through confinement, in which case it would be prepared without oil and cooked with ginger.
- Sup ponas, is a spicy Bidayuh soup made with grated tapioca, perfumed with lemongrass and spiced with Dayak-style sambal belacan.
- Teh C Peng Special - the term refers to an iced concoction of black tea, evaporated milk and gula apong (nirah palm sugar) syrup, carefully preÂsented un-stirred in three or more layers (up to five layers with grass jelly and pandan syrup). Originally from Kuching, its popularity has spread to other areas of Sarawak as well as neighbouring Sabah.
- Terubok masin, is salted 'terubok' fish, a type of oily fish with lots of scales and Y-shaped bones. Popular as an edible gift, salted terubok is usually fried, but it may also be steamed.
- Terung Dayak is a native cultivar of wild eggplant which is spherical in shape and slightly larger than a navel orange. It comes in bright hues ranging from yellow to orange. Also called terung asam due to its natural tart flavour, it is usually cooked in a soup or stew with fish, prawns, or fish products (dried, salted or smoked fish).
- Tomato kway teow (Chinese : èŒ„æ±ç²¿æ¡) consists of kway teow noodles stir-fried with sweet tomato gravy, meat (usually chicken pieces), eggs and vegetables. A popular variation utilizes egg noodles which have been fried to a crisp before it is immersed with the gravy and ingredients.
- Tuak is a type of liquor traditional to the collective Dayak communities and an important component for social and ritual events. It is most commonly made from fermented rice, although the Bidayuh are known for their skill and expertise in preparing tuak, and they can make tuak out of anything that contains carbohydrates. Examples include tuak tebu (sugarcane wine), tuak tampui (mangosteen tuak), and tuak appel (apple). It is normally served as a welcoming drink to guests, or during festive occasions like Gawai or Christmas.
- Umai is a traditional Melanau food, usually accompanied by a bowl of toasted sago pearls. There are two different versions of umai â€“ the traditional umai sambal campur and a more recent variation called umai cecah jeb. The former is a raw seafood salad which consists of raw sliced seafood (anything from freshwater and seawater fish, prawns and even jellyfish) cured in calamansi lime juice, tossed with ground peanuts, sliced onions and chilies. For umai jeb, the raw sliced seafood is undressed, and is simply dipped into a spicy sauce for consumption.
Cross-cultural adaptations and mixing cultures
Being a multicultural country, Malaysians have over the years adapted each other's dishes to suit the taste buds of their own culture. For instance, Malaysians of Chinese descent have adapted the Indian curry, and made it more dilute and less spicy to suit their taste. Chinese noodles have been crossed with Indian and Malay tastes and thus Malay fried noodles and Indian fried noodles were born. Malaysians have also adapted famous dishes from neighbouring countries, or those with strong cultural and religious ties, and in the absence of an established community from said countries have made it completely their own, A notable example being tom yam, one of Thailand's most well known dishes.
After migrating south of the border, Thai tom yam takes on the visual characteristics of a Malaysian assam gravy with a flavour profile of sweet, sour and spicy. It is thickened with pounded chile paste which also turns it a vivid orange-red. Tamarind is often used instead of lime juice as its souring agent, and dried instead of fresh chilies are used to provide a fiery kick. Malay-style tom yam soup tends to be heavily seafood-based, whereas in Chinese-style eateries the broth's spiciness is toned down and usually serves as a base for noodle soup.
Peranakan cuisine, also called Nyonya food, was developed by the Straits Chinese whose descendants reside in today's Malaysia and Singapore. The old Malay word nyonya (also spelled nonya), a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing (part â€œmadameâ€ and part â€œauntieâ€), has come to refer to the cuisine of the Peranakans. It uses mainly Chinese ingredients but blends them with Malay ingredients such as coconut milk, lemon grass, turmeric, tamarind, pandan leaves, chillies and sambal. It can be considered as a blend of Chinese and Malay cooking, with influences from Indonesian Chinese cuisine (for the Nyonya food of Malaccan and Singaporean) and Thai cuisine (for Penang Nyonya cuisine). Traditional Nyonya cooking is often very elaborate, labour-intensive and time consuming, and the Peranakan community often consider the best Nyonya food is to be found in private homes.
Examples of Nyonya dishes include:
- Acar - various pickled meats and vegetables like acar keat lah (honey lime/calamansi), achar hu (fried fish), acar kiam hu (salt fish), acar timun (cucumber), acar awat (mixed vegetables).
- Asam Laksa (Malay: äºžä¸‰å»æ²™). Considered one of Penang's three signature dishes, Asam laksa consists of a bowl of translucent white rice noodles served in a spicy soup made of fish (usually mackerel), tamarind (both asam jawa and asam gelugor), and daun kesum. Toppings may include onion, mint, chopped torch ginger flower, and slices of pineapple and cucumber. A dollop of pungent, viscous shrimp paste is usually served on the side.
- Ayam buah keluak, a chicken stew cooked with the nuts from the Kepayang tree (Pangium edule). For this recipe, the contents of the buah keluak is dug out and sauteed with aromatics and seasonings, before it is stuffed back into the nuts and braised with the chicken pieces.
- Ayam/Babi Pongteh, a stew of chicken or pork cooked with tauchu or salted fermented soy beans, and gula melaka. It is usually saltish-sweet and can be substituted as a soup dish in Peranakan cuisine.
- Babi assam, a pork stew cooked with tamarind juice. The Kristang community also cook a similar dish of pork in tamarind gravy.
- Bak Chang, Nyonya-style zongzi made in a similar manner as a typical southern Chinese zongzi. However, the filling is typically minced pork with candied winter melon, ground roasted peanuts, and a spice mix. The blue peaflower is used to colour the rice with a shade of blue, and pandan leaves are sometimes used as the wrapping instead.
- Cincalok, a distinctly Malaccan condiment made of fermented tiny shrimp (udang geragau), salt and rice. It is also a favoured cooking ingredient used by the Kristang Eurasian community of Malacca.
- Enche Kabin, deep fried chicken pieces marinated in a paste of coconut milk and rempah.
- Kari Kapitan is a Penang Nyonya specialty, which includes kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk are among the key ingredients for this mild curry.
- Itek Tim or Kiam Chye Ark Th'ng is a soup of duck, preserved mustard greens and cabbage flavoured with nutmeg, Chinese mushrooms, tomatoes and peppercorns.
- Jiu Hu Char is a dish made up mainly of shredded vegetables like turnip or jicama, carrot, and cabbage and fried together with thinly shredded dried cuttlefish.
- Kerabu Bee Hoon is a salad dish consisting of rice vermicelli mixed with sambal belacan, calamansi lime juice, and finely chopped herbs and spices.
- Laksa lemak is a type of laksa served in a rich coconut gravy, served with prawns, cockles, lime and a dollop of sambal belacan.
- Masak titik is a style of vegetable soup that makes liberal use of white peppercorns. One version uses watermelon rind as the main ingredient. Another makes use of green or semi ripe papaya.
- Nasi kunyit is glutinous rice seasoned with turmeric powder, coconut milk and asam gelugor. It is usually served with a chicken curry, ang koo kueh, and pink-dyed hard-boiled eggs as gifts in celebration of a child of friends and family turning one month old.
- Nyonya chap chye. The Nyonya take of this Chinese Indonesian classic incorporates tauchu and dried or fresh prawns.
- Otak-otak is a dish involving fish pieces wrapped in banana leaves. Two very different variations exist: one consists of a mixture of fish pieces and spice paste wrapped in banana leaves and char grilled. This version is particularly associated with the state of Malacca and the town of Muar, Johor. Penang-style otak-otak takes the form of a delicate steamed parcel, and the robust red-hued spice paste is eschewed in favour of a base of a spiced custard as well as aromatic herbs like daun kaduk.
- Perut ikan - a spicy stew (similar to asam pedas in flavour profile) comprising mainly vegetables/herbs and getting its distinctive taste mainly from fish bellies preserved in brine and daun kaduk (The Wild Pepper leaf is from the Piper stylosum or the Piper sarmentosum). A classic Penang Nyonya dish.
- Pie Tee is a thin and crispy pastry tart shell filled with a spicy, sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns.
- Roti babi - a sandwich of spiced minced pork, dipped in its entirety in egg wash and deep fried. Roti babi is typically served with a dip of Worcestershire sauce and sliced red chillies.
- Seh Bak - a dish of pork loin, marinated overnight with herbs and spices, cooked over a slow fire and simmered to tenderness. Seh Bak is also traditional to Malacca's Eurasian community.
- Ambilla - a tangy dish of meat cooked with long beans (kacang), brinjals (terung) or pumpkin (labu).
- Caldu Pescator - A seafood soup traditionally prepared by fishermen, as well as during the Feast of St Peter (â€œFesta San Pedroâ€, in the local Cristang dialect, usually observed on 29 June), the Patron Saint of Fishermen.
- Curry Debal - a quintessential Kristang dish, usually cooked during Christmas season to make use of the left-over meats from feasting. It is a very spicy curry flavoured with candlenuts, galangal and vinegar.
- Curry Seku - a very dry curry prepared in a wok. Seku means "bottom" in Papia Kristang, and the wok was probably so-named because of the roundness of its shape that resembled the human bottom.
- Chicken pie - known as empada de galinha or galinha pia, this meat pie is usually served during Christmas season and other special occasions.
- Feng - a curried dish of pig offal, traditionally served for Christmas.
- Pada or Peda - a type of pickle made with a spice paste and vinegar. Salt fish pickle is arguably the most popular and iconic for the Kristang community.
- Pang Susi - a savoury meat bun with a dough that is bread-like and sweet in texture, made for auspicious and festive occasions such as Easter.
- Pesce Assa - Portuguese baked/grilled fish is one of the Kristang community's most famous specialties, now found in major urban areas throughout Malaysia. The fish is smothered with diced okra and a robust sambal, before it is wrapped in banana leaves as well as a layer of metal foil, and then cooked on a grill. In spite of its name, this dish has nothing in common with modern Portuguese fish preparations.
- Semur or Smoore - a fragrant beef stew. Versions of this dish are found wherever the Dutch have settled in Asia, including Malacca.
- Terung Soy Limang - a braised dish of fried eggplants, with soy sauce and lime juice as the primary seasonings. Meat like chicken and fish may also be marinated and cooked with the same sauce.
Desserts and sweetmeats
Desserts and sweetmeats in Malaysia are diverse, due to the multi-ethnic and multicultural characteristics of its society. Traditional Malay and Nyonya desserts tend to share a common feature however: generous amounts of coconut milk are used, and the finished product usually flavoured with gula melaka (palm sugar) and pandan leaves. Some notable desserts include:
- Agar agar - the Malay word for a species of red algae. A natural vegetable gelatin counterpart, agar-agar can be used to make flavoured jellies and fruit aspics.
- Ais kacang (also known as air batu campur or abbreviated as ABC) - a dessert with a base of shaved ice, coloured syrup, and evaporated or condensed milk with a variety of toppings. These may include sweet corn kernels, red beans, kidney beans, cincau (grass jelly), cendol, buah atap (fruit of the nipa palm), soaked basil seeds, peanuts, and ice cream.
- Aiskrim potong - an ice cream popsicle made from coconut milk and/or milk, flavoured with localized ingredients like red bean, rose syrup, durian, pandan, creamed corn and jackfruit. Its texture is different from Western ice cream; aiskrim potong is less creamy and has a slightly starchy taste when it begins to melt.
- Apam balik - a turnover pancake with a texture similar to a crumpet with crisp edges, made from a flour based batter with raising agent. It is typically cooked on a griddle and topped with castor sugar, ground peanut, creamed corn, and grated coconut in the middle, and then turned over. Many different takes on this dish exist as part of the culinary repertoire of the Malay, Chinese, Peranakan, Indonesian, and ethnic Bornean communities; all under different names.
- Bolu cocu - a traditional Kristang cake topped with liberal amounts of shredded coconut and served with a custard sauce.
- Bubur cha cha - a Nyonya dessert of sweet potato, taro cubes and sago served in pandan-flavoured coconut milk. May be served hot or cold.
- Bubur kacang hijau - mung bean porridge cooked with coconut milk and sweetened with palm or cane sugar. It is called canje mungoo by the Kristang community, and is usually served in conjunction with the feast day of St John the Baptist (Festa da San Juang).
- Bubur pulut hitam - black glutinous rice porridge cooked with palm sugar and pandan leaves, served hot with coconut milk.
- Bubur ruya - a Bidayuh sweet porridge made with glutinous rice and cubed tapioca boiled with pandan leaves.
- Cendol - smooth green rice noodles, usually served by itself in chilled coconut milk and gula melaka (coconut palm sugar), or as a topping for ABC. In Malacca, mashed durian is a popular topping for cendol.
- Dodol - a sweet, sticky, and thick toffee-like confection, made with heavily reduced coconut milk, jaggery, and rice flour. Commonly served during festivals such as Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as sweet treats for children.
- Heong Peng (Chinese : é¦™é¥¼) - these fragrant pastries, which resemble slightly flattened balls, is a famed specialty of Ipoh. It contains a sweet sticky filling made from malt and shallots, which is covered by a flaky baked crust and garnished with sesame seeds on the surface.
- Hinompuka - a native Sabahan steamed cake, traditionally wrapped in irik (phacelophrynium maximum) leaves. Made with a moistened blend of pounded white glutinous rice and purplish-black glutinous rice (tadung) and sweetened with brown or palm sugar, hinompuka is sold in local markets and is also an essential food item for celebrating weddings, birthdays and festivals. This treat is known by different names by Kadazandusun communities in other parts of Sabah, including but not limited to lompuka, tinapung, and bintanok. Multiple variations exist as well, such as the substitution of rice flour batter with grated tapioca or the omission of tadung rice; banana leaves as alternative wrappers; and the addition of ripe bananas and freshly grated coconut to the starchy mixture for steaming.
- Kek Lapis Sarawak - these famously intricate layer cakes are essential for festive occasions celebrated throughout Sarawak, like Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Gawai and Christmas.
- Kuih (plural: kuih-muih) can be a broad and somewhat ambiguous term. In the context of the term being cultural as opposed to being physically descriptive, the concept of "kuih" is a tradition shared by both Malay and Peranakan communities across the nation, and are an important feature during festive occasions. Kuih may thus refer to any selection of Malay or Nyonya style steamed or fried cakes, cookies, confections, pastries and sweetmeats eaten as a snack during the morning or during midday. The following examples are some of the most notable sweet kuih eaten throughout the nation:
- Kuih bahulu - tiny crusty sponge cakes which come in distinctive shapes like button and goldfish, acquired from being baked in molded pans. Bahulu is usually baked and served for festive occasions.
- Kuih bakul - the Malay term for niangao (å¹´ç³•), a customary treat associated with Chinese New Year festivities, but also eaten year-round. The name also refers to a street food treat of sliced niangao sandwiched between slices of taro and sweet potato, which is dipped in batter and deep-fried.
- Kuih cincin - a traditional fried dough pastry-based snack popular with Sabah's Muslim communities, kuih cincin (literally "ring cakes" in English) are a common sight in tamu markets.
- Kuih dadar or kuih ketayap - mini crepes rolled up with a palm sugar-sweetened coconut filling. The crepes are coloured and flavoured with pandan essence.
- Kuih jala - a type of traditional fried confection in the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak. A rice flour batter is ladled into an emptied coconut shell bearing many small holes underneath, which is then held over hot oil and moved in a circular motion. The mixture will drip into the oil like thread, and forms a lattice-like layer on the oil as it fries to a solid crisp.
- Kuih kapit - a Nyonya specialty, these crispy folded wafer biscuits are colloquially known as "love letters".
- Kuih lapis - a sweet steamed cake made from rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and various shades of edible food colouring done with many individual layers.
- Kuih pinjaram - a deep fried fritter with crisp edges and a dense, chewy texture towards the centre. It is sold by street food vendors and very popular with East Malaysia's Muslim communities.
- Kuih selorot - a traditional Sarawakian kuih typically eaten during teatime. Made from gula apong and rice flour, the mixture is then rolled with coconut leaves into cones and steam cooked.
- Kuih talam â€” this kuih has two layers. The top consists of a white layer made from coconut milk and rice flour, whereas the bottom layer is green and is made from green pea flour flavoured with pandan.
- Kuih wajid or kuih wajik - a dark brown cake from the Bruneian Malay community in East Malaysia, made of glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and gula melaka.
- Onde onde - small round balls made from glutinous rice flour coloured and flavoured with pandan, filled with palm sugar syrup and rolled in freshly grated coconut.
- Penganan kacau keledek - also known as kuih kacau, this rich dessert was once reserved for the royalty and nobility of the Johor Sultanate. Made from eggs, coconut milk, sugar and sweet potatoes or keledek in Malay, it is traditionally stirred on a simmering heat for a few hours. It can also be made with pumpkin, or labu.
- Pulut inti - wrapped in banana leaf in the shape of a pyramid, this kuih consists of glutinous rice with a covering of caramelised coconut flesh.
- Seri Muka - a two-layered kuih with steamed glutinous rice forming the bottom half and a green custard layer made with pandan juice.
- Pandan cake - coloured and flavoured with pandan juice, this light and fluffy cake is also known as pandan chiffon.
- Payasam - a sweet spiced pudding made from starchy staples like rice or vermicelli, payasam is an integral part of traditional South Indian culture.
- Pengat - pieces of cassava and bananas cooked with gula melaka and coconut milk. Pengat may also be made with durian.
- Pineapple tart - small, bite-size flaky pastries filled with or topped with pineapple jam.
- Pisang goreng - battered fried bananas are a common item sold by street vendors, cafes and even restaurants.
- Puding Raja - also known as Royal Pudding, this dessert was developed and served to the royal family of Pahang state. Its basic ingredients are pisang lemak manis (a local cultivar of banana), prunes, candied cherries and cashew nuts. The pudding is then garnished with jala mas, and served with a cold sauce made from milk and cornflour. Malay housewives in Pahang would occasionally prepare this pudding as a special afternoon tea accompaniment for the family on weekends.
- Sago gula melaka - cooked translucent sago with coconut cream and palm sugar syrup. May be set like a pudding and served with the coconut cream and syrup drizzled over, or as a sweet porridge.
- Sugee cake is a baked specialty of the Eurasian community, made with semolina flour and a high concentration of egg yolks.
- Tau foo fah or Dau Huay (Chinese : è±†è…èŠ± or è±†èŠ±) - a velvety pudding of very soft silken tofu, traditionally flavoured with brown sugar syrup. It is a popular dessert amongst the Chinese community in Malaysia.
- Sweet potato balls (Chinese : è•ƒè–¯æ—¦) - deep fried sweet potato balls popularly eaten for breakfast or afternoon tea.
- Tebaloi - a sweet sago biscuit which is traditionally associated with the Melanau people of Sarawak.
- Tong Sui (Chinese : ç³–æ°´) - sweet broths made with various permutations and combinations of ingredients, such as black beans, sea coconut, yam, sweet potato, longan and others.
- UFO (Chinese : ç‰›å±Žå †) - this consists of a flat, thin base of baked mini butter sponge cake topped with a creamy egg custard, which is in turn crowned with a meringue slurry. Its name in Chinese has a literal means "cow pile dung", alluding to the piped shape of the cake base's toppings and the meringue's darker shade as a result of caramelization. Popularized by a bakery in Sandakan in the 1950s, the popularity of these treats has spread to Kota Kinabalu and several other towns in Sabah.
- "Nasi Lemak". Malaysia.com. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- Robert Saunders (1789) "Boutan & Thibet", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Vol. 79, p. 101
- Malaysia Poultry and Products Annual 2006 Malaysia Poultry and Products Annual 2006
- Australian Halal Meat Information
- TED case studies.
- Crop Protection & Plant Quarantine Services Division (2004). Technical Document for Market Access on Star Fruit (Carambola). The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Malaysia.
- Wai Yee Hong - Chinese Supermarket - Malay-English Food Glossary
- Malaysian Food: Malay Cuisine | Holiday To Malaysia
- Media related to Cuisine of Malaysia at Wikimedia Commons