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Explore Malaysian Cuisine

Nasi Lemak, a specialty in Malaysia
Nasi Lemak, a specialty in Malaysia.

Malaysian food is influenced by a diversity of neighboring races and cultures. This adventurous cuisine may be quite different from anything you have previously tasted—sweet, sour, and spicy all in the same dish, for example.

Here are the main dishes you should try on your visit to Malaysia:

Nasi Lemak: This is arguably the most famous Malaysian dish. It is rice cooked in coconut milk, served with sambal curry, a piece of chicken, anchovies, sliced cucumber, and half a boiled egg. The flavor comes from the sambal, which can be extremely spicy.

Roti Canai: If you like a mild curry, try this dish. Roti means bread, but in this case it is more like a pancake served with dhall sauce. It is a popular breakfast food and very cheap (usually about 25 cents).

Curry Mee: Sometimes called “mee kari,” or simply “curry noodles,” this dish is exactly what the name suggests. You will find huge pieces of fried tofu in the broth.

Char Kuay Teow, often spelled in different ways, is a Chinese dish consisting of fried noodles, seafood, and sometimes beef. It is the best of the dishes found at the Chinese street stalls.

Murtabak is an Indian dish found at a “mamak,” or Indian Muslim, restaurant. It is a meat-filled pastry-style dish containing beef, chicken, or mutton.

ABC is more formally known as “air batu campur,” which is shaved ice topped with peanuts, brown sugar, red beans, sweet corn, and a whole host of other things. To top it off, rose syrup and condensed milk is poured over the top. A more modern style is served with a scoop of ice-cream.

As you explore Malaysian food keep an open mind, because you have never tasted anything like this before.

Sample Malaysian Dish

Chicken with Mango and Coconut Sauce | serves: 4 | prep: 25 mins | cooking: 15 mins


2 medium-sized ripe mangoes;
1 1/4 cup chicken broth;
Juice of 1 lime;
2 tbsp light soy sauce;
6 sprigs of fresh cilantro;
1 red chile, seeded and sliced;
1 tsp fresh galangal puree;
4 chicken breasts, cut into 2-in pieces;
16 asparagus spears;
2 oz creamed coconut.

Cooking Instructions:

1. Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh. Place in a food processor and reduce to a puree.

2. Put the broth, lime juice, light soy sauce, cilantro, red chile, and galangal puree in a wok and bring to a simmering point.

3. Lay the chcken and asparagus on a rack and place in the wok. Cover and steam for 10 mins or until the chicken is cooked and the asparagus spears are tender. Remove the chicken and asparagus to a plate.

4. Strain the cooking liquid from the wok into a jug. Pour the pureed mango into the wok and add the creamed coconut. Heat until almost boiling, then stir in enough of the cooking liquid to make a fairly thick sauce. Simmer for one to two minutes.

5. Divide the chicken and asparagus between serving plates and spoon over the sauce. Serve with rice.

Related Topics
Culinary Travel
Living in Malaysia: Best Expatriate Resources
More by Emile Alexander Dodds
Teaching English in Malaysia

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