Malaysian cuisine is a blend of British and German culinary styles mostly. The fabrics of the country owes much to colonization and just like its history and culture, the cuisine is sundry and multifaceted. With touches of inspiration from the Dutch, the Portuguese, Chinese and the occasion exotic ingenuity, be it Latin America or the Middle East, makes this a new-kind of cultural meltingpot.
Food for Malaysia has played to its historical strengths well, just like any other aspect of our culture – for some hundreds of years the country has acted as an important trading post between the Far East and the West. It gained famed worldwide first, for being an ancient spice route and you get to see this in practice here, even till today.
The best place to sample fine Malaysian food is right here in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, as you get everything in this beautiful city, from street vendors selling local delicacies, such as murtabak (a pan-fried bread wrapped with minced meat, onions, and a spicy sauce), ayam goreng, gulai and fine dining, inclusive of nasi goreng. Spicy food is greatly loved – in fact, the spicier the best; the most spiciest of chillies you get here that is used widely in foods is cili padi.
Malaysian food, particularly has gained notoriety, in America for posing as a favourite amongst American tourists especially, who love it so much they would gladly open food stalls down Park Avenue serving our food. There has infamously been plenty of debate over the origins of the food down here, so if you find yourself looking for similarities in our cuisine with that of far-away countries, like Indonesia, expect the debate to follow the norms and go the unpretty way.
Locals in Malaysia love their food just as much as they love history but there is no reason to be so alarmed with history once you’re here travelling. As you go from one food stall to the other around town, simply sit back and enjoy the feeling of having such an interesting mix of ingredients in your dish.
Because Muslims makeup a majority of the population here, with a good diversity of religions to match, many restaurants often serve you ‘Halal’ food. Apart from that, you get many rarely found food in the Far East readily here, such as the Brazilian black beans dish, Feijoada, and Middle Eastern favourites: Hummus and Falalfel.
In Malaysia, the main ingredients, aside from spices that are in use are coconut milk, tamarind, banana leaf, rice, tangy condiments, pickles, sambal belacan, wild plants, herbs and a lots of fresh fruits, even for your main course, marvellously.
Because the land is filled with farms, coastlines and large rivers, you get a lot of farm fresh food, such as farm range eggs, ham, lamb, poultry and beef, alongside freshwater fish and seafood. Traditional British roasts still fill up homes up and down the country with aroma on Sunday evenings, when families aren’t busy with eating patties, the spicy edition of Mulligatawny soup, Pork Vindaloo, Tuna Mornay, Ham Hock Curry, stews, and ofcourse, pies.
For Chinese cuisine, you will often find neighbouring China’s local Cantonese cuisine popping up in places here because it is very popular, whether you like your fish, fried chicken or pickled vegetables. The Indian cuisine meanwhile, is just a blend of Arabic and Indian food, with some very popular Malaysian editions, like Roti Canai and Mamak Mee Goreng (noodles with beef/chicken, shrimp, soy sauce, vegetables and eggs). The Arabic variety you get here is still pretty basic (think Naan bread!) because European and Far-Eastern cuisine continues to dominate the culinary landscape nationally.
Whether you love your stir-fries, deep-fried steaming, sauté, or Portuguese deliciousness, like sweetmeat, the most rare find you can expect here is the Eurasian variety. The cuisine isn’t very popular and has been noted as being kept alive by individuals, mainly. Most communities prefer the more popular dishes than the traditional ones, like satay (grilled meat on skewers).
The national dish of Malaysia is Nasi Lemak. Rice cooked in coconut milk, and served with a hard-boiled egg, peanuts, vegetables, lamb/chicken/beef curry, seafood and sambal, you can have it here any time of the day. So when you do take a holiday in Malaysia, make sure to sample the local cuisine too and not just stick to the variety of exotic dishes available here, such as Russian, Swiss, Korean, Japanese and Italian.