Malaysian Cuisine – Understanding the Basics

The term Malaysian denotes populations living in Malay peninsula and nearby islands, including the east coast of Sumatra, Borneo and the smaller islands in the area. Malaysians today are descendants of immigrants proto-Malays and Indians, Thais, Arabs and Chinese. Malay culture was also heavily influenced by neighbors. The influence of Hindu India was colossal and almost all Malaysians were converted to Hinduism, to take place before the transition to Islam occurred in the XVth century.

Malaysians have used liberally the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallots, galangal, pandanus, turmeric, “Damages Kemang” (a variety of basil), laksa leaves, lime and chillies kafru both fresh and dried. Often, they are crushed together with other ingredients to form a paste and seasoned pepper called sambal. All they evince a strong resemblance Thai cuisine, but also to those from Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Malaysian Spices

Dried spices most often used are fennel, cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, star anise, mustard, schimduful, cinnamon and nutmeg evidence of Indian and Chinese influences.
Dried spices are used to prepare a paste of spices called “rempah” which is fried to develop the flavor.
Coconut milk, called “Santan” is based dishes called “lemak”. They traditionally have not pungent taste; are flavored with spices spicy us and coconut milk is added to enrich the sauce.


As in other Southeast Asian countries, rice is the staple food. It is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Nasi lemak” is rice cooked in coconut milk (“Santan”), flavored with pandanus leaves and served as a garnish for “Ikan Bilis sambal” (dried anchovies cooked in sambaal), cucumber slices, boiled eggs and peanuts. “Sambal Ikan Bilis” is packed traditionally in banana leaves and eaten as a nourishing breakfast to start the day more special that requires physical effort.

Most dishes are eaten with fingers, and cutlery are used to a minimum. All kinds of meals are served at the same time, usually accompanied by refreshing drinks such as “Sirap ‘(rose syrup) or” air Limau “(lime juice).

Cooking Styles
Depending main flavoring used in seasoning, Malaysian dishes can rank more or less in some cooking styles: Masak Lamak (coconut), Masak Pedasi (sambal, chilli peppers), Masak Assam (tamarind), Masak Merah ( tomato sauce), Masak Hitam (sweet soy sauce) and Masak Pedasi Assam (tamarind, sambal and pepper).
These cooking styles may apply to a food varietae from red meat and poultry to fish, seafood and vegetables.
Malaysian Market
Dishes are Ayam Masak Merah very popular, chicken cacciatore Italian similar, but much spicier. Chicken pieces are fried until browned first, then slowly cooked in sauce, tomato. It serves mostly with “nasi tomato” (rice with tomato).
Udange Masak Pedasi: shrimp cooked in chilli sauce, Assam Ikan Masak Pedasi: fish cooked with tamarind and sambal or chili peppers, and Nangka Masak lemak: jackfruit cooked in coconut milk.

Mee Jawa: these noodles, Indonesian influenced by how you prepare, are extremely popular. Thin sauce is prepared fresh shrimp and is then poured over egg noodles (chow mein). The food is garnished with slices of potatoes, tofu, eggs, vegetables and shrimp.

Satay skewers, whose meat is tender and juicy with a sweet-spicy marinades with. Marinated meat (chicken, or beef) is stuck in the bamboo skewers and roasted on coals. Some barbecues are prepared venison (boar, rabbit or deer). Usually accompanied by a fresh salad of cucumbers and onions and sweet-spicy sauce of peanuts.

Ikan Bakar, or Panggang Ikan is a general term that denotes grilled fish. Whole fish is marinated in spices, coconut milk and sometimes filled with sambal, after which it is wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over coals or grill.

Ikan Pari Bakar is one way based on chicken wings marinated in spices and then are wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on the grill or coals. Serve alongside sambal sauce with shallot.

Sambal Sotong are calamari cooked in a sauce classic Malay. It is prepared from chilies, shallots, garlic, sauteed tomatoes, tamarind paste and belacan (dried shrimp paste). This Sambal Sotong is often an accompaniment to the Malaysian national dish, Nasi lemak.

There are countless Malaysian dishes, many of which can only be prepared at home. The best way to sample the local goodies is certainly that of being invited into a house Malaysian cuisine.

There are also many strictly regional specialties, one of the most famous being ‘Rendang’ beef served on special occasions. ‘Rendang’ spicy curry is prepared from beef and coconut milk. It is a festive dish, served especially during religious holidays like Ramadan and Eid.

Soup is not too popular in Malaysian cuisine; However, there is mutton soup, “Sup Kambing” very popular. It is prepared from mutton bones, particularly rib, cooked with herbs and spices.
Pork is forbidden for religious reasons Malay cuisine. The chicken is very popular, one of the most popular dishes is the grilled skewers over charcoal and served with fresh cucumber and peanut sauce. Peanut sauce skewers to make special combination which is found in other kitchens in the area (Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese).
Skewers (satay) cooked on the street
Many restaurants serve Malaysian “Nasi Padang” term originating in Padang, West Sumatra district. It is not itself a dish, but rather rice served with various kinds of meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Rice can be simple (masi kosong), flavored with turmeric (nasi Kunya), or cooking with ghee (Nasi Minyak).

A variety of food is available to be consumed with rice. From the very spicy dishes, to neutral, rich flavor. The most popular are “Sambal Udange” (shrimp, calamari or, belacan spicy sauce), “Panggang Ayam” (grilled chicken, Malay style), “Otake Otake” (foam fish, seasoned environment based on coconut milk).
The most widely known and appreciated are the “Nasi Goreng” (fried rice), “Bami Goreng” (fried noodles), “Laksa” (fresh rice noodles, garnished with cucumber, onion, lettuce and served with fish soup, or a meat sauce).

According to many nutritionists, dishes from Southeast Asia are the healthiest ones. Arguments pro Asian recipes are low fat, no over-heat treatment abundance of vegetables, fish, rice, pasta, pulses, good nutritional balance, all these in addition to a delightful range of tastes, aromas, colors and textures, superior to other ethnic cuisines.