cuisine is exotic with an exciting range of flavours and culinary styles
offering the uninitiated an endless gastronomic adventure. It comprises
three main groups - Malay, Chinese and Indian with each having its own
distinct style of cooking. There are also cuisine that have evolved from the
meeting of cultures notably those of the Nyonya and Indian Muslim
For the visitor who is interested in dining out, Kuala Lumpur boasts an
extraordinary number of hawker stalls, coffee shops and restaurants, most of
them offering a high standard of cuisine and often at very cheap prices.
Staple Diet - Rice
Rice is the staple diet in any Malay meal. It is often served for
breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper too. Most meals are eaten by using your
fingers, and eating utensils are kept to a minimum. All dishes are served at
the same time, accompanied by a refreshing drink. Fish is popular in Malay
cooking, as with other seafood such as shrimps and cuttlefish. Beef and
mutton are very popular choices but never pork as it is against their
religious beliefs to eat pork. The other popular white meat is chicken.
Dishes and Desserts
One of the most unique Malay dishes is the "roti jala" (lacy
pancakes), which sometimes replaces the staple rice. Roti jala is an ideal
accompaniment to any dish with lots of rich gravy and is often served during
special occasions. It is made from a mixture of plain flour and eggs, with a
pinch of turmeric powder and butter. Desserts are a must for any Malay meal.
Easily available at most local restaurants and roadside stalls, Malay
desserts are invariably very sweet and include ingredients such as coconut
milk, palm sugar, and flour.
Popular Malay dishes include : -
¤ Nasi Dagang
dish is made by cooking rice and glutinous rice together, to which coconut
cream is added once it is cooked. Nasi Dagang is eaten with its own
specially made side dishes of tuna fish curry and a light vegetable pickle.
¤ Keropok Lekor / Keping
A popular and the most visible fried snack in Terengganu, the keropok is
made of fish meat, ground to a paste, and mixed with sago. Coming in two
main different forms, the long chewy ones are called 'lekor', while the
thin, crispy ones are called 'keping'. Keropok is best eaten hot with its
special chili dip.
¤ Ayam Goreng
This is a popular chicken dish. Simply meaning fried chicken, this dish is
prepared by first marinating the chicken with various spices like turmeric
and curry powder. It is then deep fried in hot oil and served.
A delightful yet simple dish, the laksam is akin to the western pasta dish.
Like the latter, it has both the flour dough and the gravy that goes with
it. However, unlike the pasta, laksam is made using both wheat and rice
flours, and the dough is steamed instead of boiled. Laksam's gravy is made
of fish meat, which is boiled, pureed, and later mixed with coconut milk
¤ Indian Food
Indian influence in Malaysian cuisine started in the 19th century when
large arrivals of Indian migrants were brought into the country as contract
laborers to work in rubber estates and on the railways. Some did take the
opportunity to set up trade in the textile and food industry. Indian cuisine
can be divided into two mainstreams, Northern and Southern Indian cuisine.
In Malayasia, there is an abundant of Indian restaurants and food stalls to
whet your appetite. They are traditionally served on a thali, a circular
metal tray on which a number of small bowls called katori, also made from
metal, are placed. Eaten with fingers, rice or bread are placed directly on
the thali while curries and other dishes are served in the bowls. For South
Indian cuisine, banana leaves are often used as plates where rice is served
in the center, followed by various curries and accompaniments around it.
These include dried fish, pappadams (lentil wafers), fresh chutneys made
from herbs, coconut, and acid fruits among others.
Local Indian hawkers have created unique versions of local dishes, which
are not found in India. For example, "mee goreng" is a combination
of fresh Chinese yellow noodles, tofu, bean-sprouts, and dried shrimp paste.
Malayasia also abounds with shops offering "Nasi Kandar", which is
basically a combination of Malay and Indian cuisine - hence very Tandoori
dishes are the most popular main courses in North Indian restaurants.
Tandoori chicken is always a favorite, where a whole baby chicken or chicken
quarters are roasted in the clay oven for several hours in advance and then
finished off on the barbecue.