The Five Most Favorite Malaysian Food

Malaysia’s gastronomic heritage has drawn from its multiracial and rich cultural heritage. Below are the five top picks of my most favorites Malaysian food. All these cuisines have a rich culinary heritage.that have been assimilated into the local customs. They are diverse and distinct in nature during their introduction to Malaysia in the colonial period, but becomes the perennial Malaysian favorite of all races nowadays.

1. Satay


Malaysian cuisine

Satay and the peanut sauce

Satay is by far the most famous and unique Malaysian food . Its fabulous spicy and aromatic  has attracted many locals and foreigners to come back for more.

Satay has a close analogue to its cuisines such as shish kebab from Turkey, sosatie from South Africa, chicken tikka from India and yakitori from Japan. For satay, the most essential ingredients for marination are turmeric, galangal, fennel, cumin and lemongrass. The balanced combination of these spices brings out the irresistible flavor of satay while grilling on the open fire with charcoal. Usually chicken breast meat is the most commonly used meat for satay, but lamb, mutton and beef are used as well.

Satay has a characteristic yellow color due to the use of turmeric. It is usually served with satay sauce. Satay sauce is a peanut sauce prepared with ingredients such as red chilli, galangal, tamarind juice and coconut milk. The satay is served hot together with the satay dipping sauce.

Satay is the typical Malaysian food tat is enjoyed by all ethnic groups in this multiracial country, as it has been assimilated into the local customs and eating habits of all races.

2. Nasi Lemak


Malaysian cuisines

Nasi lemak and the accompaniments

Nasi lemak is the favorite Malaysian food for the locals. It is rice cooked with coconut milk and other ingredients such as halba, onion, ginger, a knotted of pandan (screwpine) leaf and a stalk of lemongrass. It is similar to the nasi uduk originated from Indonesia. The word nasi means rice, and lemak means creamy. The rice is steamed with these ingredients that infused the gorgeous, aromatic flavor of the coconut milk and screwpine leaves. It is so good that even just be eaten by its own.

Nasi lemak is served with the basic accompaniment such as sambal, hard-boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, deep fried anchovies and cucumbers. The more luxurious version is usually includes rendang beef (stew beef in coconut milk), chicken curry , sotong (cuttlefish) and achar (pickle vegetables) . It is either served in a platter in the restaurants who serve Malaysian food or wrapped with banana leaves to form a pyramid shape package. Therefore, the local fondly called it as nasi lemak bungkus which means ‘packed nasi lemak’. The combination of nasi lemak, the accompaniment and the curry is really a feast for all the senses. It is no wonder the local always ask for ‘tambah nasi’ at the nasi lemak store, which means ‘to add more rice’!

3. Char Keow Teow


Malaysian street food

Penang Style Char Keow Teow

One of the most localized and delicious fried noodles (or chow mien ) I ever try is the Penang style fried noodles called Char Keow Teow.  This irresistible Malaysian food is most famous in the island of Penang, where it is widely considered as the food paradise of Malaysia. 

Among the most important secret ingredients to prepare a truly authentic Penang fried noodles is the crisp bits of fried pork fat (called cracklings) 猪油渣. The pork cracklings has the unique flavor that one will instantly reckon its existence. Another ingredient widely used is cockles. The cockles are usually added to the noodles at the last minutes to ensure it won’t be overcooked. Lastly, chives that cut into short pieces are added to complete the ultimate combination of this heavenly creation.

The noodles used for Penang fried noodles is known as Keow Teow 粿条. Keow Teow is a form of rice noodles that is white and flat. Its texture is smooth, elastic and chewy. Therefore, this stir-fried dish is named Char Keow Teow (or Char Kway Teow ) in Penang which means fried Keow Teow.

4. Curry chicken


Malaysian cuisines

Malaysian chicken curry

Malaysia is located at the crossroads of the ancient trade route from India to the Malay Peninsula. Curry was then introduced to Malaysia by the Indian immigrants. The Malaysian version of curry is therefore closest to the taste of Indian curry. Nowadays, curry has become one of the favorable Malaysian foods in Malaysia enjoyed by all ethnic groups.

Chicken curry is one of the most common forms of curry available in Malaysia. There are many versions of Malaysian chicken curry, Different cooks will add and alter the recipe based on their preference. However, most of these versions of chicken curry have some similarities. They are prepared by cooking the chicken with potatoes. They also generally contain coconut milk, which has a rich and milky flavor. Malaysian chicken curry is usually served along with rice or roti canai (flat bread) or roti jala (net bread).

Malaysian chicken curry can be either wet or dry. The wet form is added with either coconut milk or yogurt whereas the dry form is left without. Malaysian chicken curry is different from Thai curry, which uses green chillies, basil and turmeric. Malaysian curry is also not as sweet as Japanese curries which is generally sweeter and less spicy.

Essentially, Malaysian chicken curry is cooked by preparing a blend of aromatic roots such as onion, ginger, lemongrass and fresh chilli. These ingredients are first blended together by using a mortar and a pestle. Then it is sauteed in a wok until fragrant. Curry powder that consists of spices such as turmeric, cumin, fennel, corianders are added into the wok to form a thick gravy. Chicken chunks are added along with some tamarind water and curry leaves. The chicken chunks are stewed with water and coconut milk until it is tender. Lime juice will be added at the end of the stewing process.

5. Nasi Briyani


Malaysian Cuisnes

Nasi Briyani

Nasi briyani is a wholesome rice dish prepared by using basmathi rice and an array of spice, yogurt, meat and vegetables. Briyani was believed to be invented by the ancient people in India during the Mughal dynasty. It is a special and luxurious dish usually served only during the special occasion for the royalties. Nowadays, it has been popularized as the common Malaysian food among the commoner to be enjoyed everyday.

The popularity of this exotic dish is attributed to its aromatic flavors and distinctively rich taste. The rice is boiled in salt water until it is semi cooked. Then, it is cooked with a myriad of spices and condiments that include ghee, cardamom, pepper, cloves, lime juice, yogurt, ginger, mint leaves and fried onions. The premium version of briyani usually includes saffron. The best briyani is cooked by combining the rice, spices and the meat together. In this way, the amalgamations of flavors from the spices impart a multifaceted taste to the rice. The dish may be served with chutney, dhal, curry or raita.

The Malaysian briyani dishes were introduced to Malaysia by the Indian Muslim as well as the Arab, which is the adaptation of Buhari Biryani, originating from Tamil Nadu. It has ever since become one of the most lovable Malaysian food so far.

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