Malaysia is home to some of the world’s most exciting cuisines. Here, you can try the exotic Malay, Chinese or Indian fare, each with its distinctive flavours and styles. Besides, there are also cuisines derived from a meeting of different cultures, such as the Nyonya and Indian Muslim foods.
As Malaysia is a highly open country, continental and Mediterranean cuisines are also available here. Indeed, Malaysia is a place where the oriental and western cultures meet.
In the national capital Kuala Lumpur, visitors will find themselves pampered with a wide selection of eateries, ranging from traditional hawker stalls to chic hotel restaurants and sidewalk cafes, as well as western chain restaurants.
Spices and coconut milk are the usual ingredients found in Malay cuisine. The Malay cuisine itself varies from region to region, with the Kelantanese cuisine emphasizing on sweetish taste due to the liberal use of coconut milk and sugar, not unlike the Thai cooking while Kedah food is spicier owing to the Indian influence since centuries ago.
Nasi Lemak, rice cooked in coconut milk and served with anchovies, squid, eggs, cucumber and sambal (chili paste), is a popular Malay food. In the East Coast, Nasi Dagang, fragrant unpolished glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and served with tuna fish curry. Nasi Kerabu, another rice-based dish native to Kelantan, is served with local herbs and salted fish.
The most famous among tourists, however, is the satay, or skewed meat marinated in spices and grilled over charcoal fire. It is served with peanut gravy, rice cubes, cucumber and onions.
Chinese cuisine is further divided into Cantonese, Hokkien, Hainanese, Hakka and Szechuan cuisines. The Cantonese dim sum is a favourite among locals and many tourists. Don’t forget to experience Hokkien fried mee (noodle), Hainanese Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow (stir fried rice flour noodles).
Nyonya or Peranakan cuisine is a unque blend of Malay and Chinese cooking styles characterised by sweet, sour, spicy and pungent flavours.
Typical dishes include otak-otak (fish meat marinated in spices, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled) and Itik Tim (duck with salted vegetables).
Indian foods are generally spicy due to the generous use of chillie and spices. Indians also love yogurt after a meal. The less spicy alternatives are Kurma (mild meat curry) and tandoori chicken (chicken baked in clay oven). Southern Indian cuisine is in general hotter than Northern Indian and Moghul foods while Indian Muslim cuisine includes fish-head curry, Murtabak and mee goreng.
Mamak (Indian Muslim)
Mamak dishes is truly Malaysian style available throughout the country. Mamak stalls of restaurants are particularly popular among Malaysian with the wide range of food where some outlets are open 24 hours a day. Some of the must try are Nasi Kandar (rice served with its special side dishes), Roti Canai (thin crust bread served with curries) and Teh Tarik (unique Malaysian tea).
Seafood dishes are found in abundance in coastal fishing towns all over the country.