Cuisine Of Malaysia

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Features of the cuisine of Malaysia

There is an opinion that in Malaysia, whose population is a mixture of different cultures and peoples, national cuisine, as such, does not exist. This is not entirely true. Simply, the traditional cuisine of Malaysia consists of interweaving and borrowing from the cuisines of various peoples: Chinese, Indian, Thai, etc. You can even find dishes borrowed from the Portuguese. At the same time, you can find here the purely traditional cuisine of the peoples living in the neighborhood: Thai Cuisine, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, and others. Worldwide fast food chains, including Macdonald's, PizzaHut, etc., where you can eat the usual European food, have also become widespread here.

As in all of Asia, rice in Malaysia has become a staple food. Rice is present as an ingredient or side dish in almost all dishes served in restaurants and cafes in Malaysia, unless it is, of course, McDonald's. Rice can be seen here in all kinds of widows and in all kinds of forms. It is served with any dish as a side dish. It is mixed with spices, spices and coconut milk. They even prepare dessert dishes with it.

Rice in Malay is called "Nasi" (nasi), so the name of most dishes includes this word. Similarly, rice is designated in the neighboring Indonesian cuisine. All other products here are called by one name "lauk" (lauk), which literally means "addition to rice".

The variety of flavors of the same product, bright and rich taste of sometimes even tasteless at first glance ingredients give spices. Among them are various mixtures of curry, chili, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir. Coconut milk used in the preparation gives a special taste to simple dishes. Often used in the preparation of coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, anise.

Nasi Lemak Dish

Traditional Malay dishes are never made with pork, as most Malays are Muslims. Usually chicken, fish, lamb or beef are used as meat. Although this does not mean that you will not find pork dishes here. Pork is widely used by the Malay Chinese, and the variety of dishes from it in restaurants is no less than in any other country. As they say: "any whim for your money". Also in the diet of the Malays, many dishes are prepared using seafood.

For lovers of vegetarian food in Malaysia will open a "Klondike" of tastes and new sensations. In the country there is a network of Buddhist vegetarian restaurants "Banana leaf", offering South Indian cuisine. In these restaurants, not only the dishes themselves are interesting, but also the ceremony of eating without dining items and unnecessary conventions.

Despite the fact that the main traditional dishes throughout the country seem to be the same, and are made from the same basic products, in fact, in different regions of the country their taste will be significantly different. The location of the region, its natural features and historical development have greatly influenced local traditions and recipes. Moreover, even in the same city, in restaurants of different ethnic groups or districts, the taste of the dish can also be very different.

For example, in the north of the country, closer to to Thailand, the dishes feel the influence of the northern neighbor. When cooking in large quantities use lime, kaffir, lemongrass, which gives the food a sour tint and citrus flavor Thai dishes. The southwestern coast is influenced by the Indonesian island of Sumatra. As a result, the dishes here acquire a sharp and spicy taste.

Prices at a local cafe in downtown Kuala Lumpur

As for the cost of food: eating in Malaysia can be very cheap, especially if you approach this issue with intelligence and caution in choosing dishes. In a fairly decent cafe you can get enough of 15 RM (currency of Malaysia) per person, and if you limit yourself to traditional dishes, such as, for example, Nasi Goreng, Roti Chanai, etc., then you can spend RM15 for two. Don't believe it? Look at the prices in the photo in one of the cafes in the center of Kuala Lumpur (click on the photo to enlarge it), made in October 2011. Agree, the prices are not so high, and the portions, I assure you, are large.

Of course, you can find an institution for any purse, and leave for one dinner several hundred dollars for a lobster or crab. Prices in restaurants at hotels, as a rule, are quite high, and it is much cheaper to eat in establishments located outside the hotels. What is even more surprising, sometimes in cheap-looking street cafes consisting of a tray and a plastic table, you can "sloop" a pretty decent amount for a modest dinner, if you do not ask in advance about the cost of the dishes. It is best to pre-view the menu with prices, and then order.

Penang Street fast food

To try real Malaysian cuisine, you need to eat at least once at hawkers on the street or in a cafe where locals eat. You can eat up to a dump in such a place on RM5. Do not be afraid to eat from trays: the food on them is clean and safe for a healthy stomach. Great attention is paid to food hygiene here, which is forced by the hot climate. Food is prepared right in front of your eyes from fresh products. No heated food, everything is the freshest. The only thing you should be prepared for is the sharpness of the food. If you have a weak stomach, it is better to approach this issue with all caution or not at all to risk and eat in European institutions.

In general, very often the cost of food in Malaysia is compared with the cost of food in Thailand and Indonesia. So in Malaysia, food will cost you a little more, 20-30 percent, than in Thailand. Food in Indonesia is generally considered one of the cheapest, and here the difference will be about one and a half to two times.

Popular dishes of traditional cuisine of Malaysia

Langkawi food tray

Many popular dishes in Malaysia are borrowed from other cuisines in their pure form. Among them are Indonesian nasi goreng and rendang, Thai tom yam soup. Here is a list of popular dishes of traditional cuisine of Malaysia, with which you should definitely get acquainted:

  • Nasi Lemak - rice cooked with coconut milk. Served with boiled eggs, anchovies, cucumbers, roasted peanuts.
  • Nasi goreng - fried rice with pieces of meat, shrimp, eggs and vegetables. It is divided into several types with different ingredients, the most classic of which Nasi goreng ayam (Nasi goreng ayam) is prepared with chicken.
  • Nasi dagang - rice in coconut milk with fish curry.
  • Tahu goreng - fried soy flour cubes fried with soy sprouts, spicy seasoning and breaded ground peanuts.
  • Gado Gado - vegetable salad with peanut sauce, coconut milk and hot pepper, as well as soy sprouts and bamboo shoots.
  • Rojak - salad with pineapple, cucumber, shrimp fritters and boiled egg, served with peanut sauce.
  • Rendang - meat stewed in coconut milk (beef) with spices. The preparation of this dish takes several hours, and the result is correspondingly delicious.
  • Soto ayam - spicy chicken soup with vegetables and rice.
  • Satay ayam or simply satay (Satay) - chicken skewers with sweet and sour peanut sauce.
  • Ketupat - palm leaf fried rice with spices.
  • ECoR - this spicy buffalo tail soup.
  • Rothi Chanai or rothi Jala (Rothi Canai) Malaysian dessert pancakes. They are found in a simple form, like a flatbread that is served with sauce and can be used instead of bread. But much more interesting with a filling of meat, vegetables, fruit or cheese. Some varieties are Roti Chanai Ayam (with chicken), roti Chanai banana (with sweet banana filling), Roti Chanai cheese (with cheese).
  • Melaka - sago dessert with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.
  • Murtabak (Murtabak or Rotary Canai Ayam) - oil-fried layered pancakes stuffed with vegetables and chicken. It is simply the most popular variety of Roti Chanai and is found on menus under the names Roti Chanai Ayam (Rothi Canai Ayam, Ayam means chicken filling) or murtabak, but essentially the same thing.
  • Ice Kacang (Ais Kacang) - multi-colored jelly made of cubes, corn in cream, peanuts and red beans, sprinkled with crushed ice and poured with pink syrup.

By the way, the rendang dish in September 2011 was generally recognized as the most delicious dish in the world according to the website And the classic "nasi goreng" with chicken and egg took second place in the same rating. These two dishes according to the results of the vote surpassed the taste of such dishes as: Japanese sushi and noodles, Thai rice, Hong Kong dim sum , Chinese duck, Italian lasagna, American ice cream, French croissant, and other world delicacies.

Fruits in Malaysia

Fruit on the counter in Kuala Lumpur

The variety of fruits in Malaysia is typically Southeast Asian. That is, the variety is huge. Here you can find almost any fruit, but naturally, taking into account the season. Most exotic fruits have never seen the shelves of our stores. You can read more about such fruits and their ripening seasons in our article - exotic fruits. All the fruits described in the article you can find in the fruit markets of Malaysia. Prices for them are not very low (compared to the same Thailand), but quite acceptable. Approximate prices for some fruits in October 2011 (per kilogram): pineapple-4 RM; mango-9 EM; mangosteen-12 RM; lamiai-10 RM. In local markets, located a little further from tourist areas, prices are lower.

Familiar fruits, such as apples, grapes, pears, almost do not grow in Malaysia and are brought from other regions. Therefore, the prices for them here are quite high.

In addition to eating fruits fresh, they are widely used as ingredients in Malay cuisine. Freshly squeezed fruit juices are on the menu of almost every restoron and street cafe.

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in Malaysia

Favorite drinks of Malaysians are tea and coffee (teh tarik and Nescafe Tarik respectively). Tea and coffee are traditionally sweetened with sugar or condensed milk, and sometimes spices are added. In Malaysia, there is a whole cult of brewing and bottling tea, but do not think that this is something like a Japanese or Chinese tea ceremony, but Brewing and bottling tea here can be accompanied by a real show with acrobatic numbers. There are even competitions of skill in the preparation and bottling of tea. A glass of tea or coffee is in the cafe from RM1, 2.

In Malaysia, you will be presented with a huge selection of freshly squeezed juices from tropical fruits. Such juices, except in Asian countries, you will not try anywhere. Fresh coconut juice or coconut milk is also common. This drink is sold on the street right in coconuts, which you will open and give along with a straw. The cost of a glass of freshly squeezed juice with ice in a cafe is from RM2, the cost of a coconut is from 3 ringgit.

Strong alcoholic beverages by the Muslim population of Malaysia are not consumed and are not welcome. Although some Muslims allow themselves to drink local beer, but, of course, within reason, and never get drunk. Given this, spirits are practically not produced, and you can not find them on sale everywhere. This is mainly imported alcohol, and the prices for it are quite biting (the exception is the island of Langkawi and Labuan).

Much easier with beer and wine, although here the prices can not be called democratic. The cost of a can of beer in a cafe or restaurant starts from RM 12 (approx 3 dollars). In the store you can find a small can of beer (0.33 liters) from 8 ringgit ($2), but more often more expensive. A large bottle (here it is 0.66 liters) costs at least 10 ringgit. Wine in the store can be bought from 25 ringgit per bottle, but such a store still needs to be found first.

Wine is mainly imported from Australia and neighboring countries. Beer is sold both imported and locally produced. The local beer isn't as bad quality as you might think.

If you plan to visit the island Langkawi or Labuan during your trip, then you will be lucky with alcohol. These islands are a duty-free zone, and alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are much cheaper there. If you plan to spend your holidays in Malaysia on one of these islands, there is no need to buy in the airport dry-free stores. On Langkawi you can find all the same, but cheaper. A can of beer costs from RM1.6, and 1 liter of Baileys liqueur - RM55.

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