Malay food is the most commonly available cuisine in the country as they are after all, the biggest race in Malaysia. Originating from Indonesia, traders from across the world have influenced the Malaysian style of Malay cooking. In fact, you'll find a bit of India, Middle East and even China in every dish!
The overall tone is spicy with a little tinge of sweetness. Herbs such as lemon grass, pandan leaves and wild ginger bus are common ingredients to accompany chilli – the main flavour for Malay dishes. No alcohol, pork and other non-halal meat (forbidden by the Muslim religion) is used. Beef and fish is used frequently. Traditionally, Malays wash and then eat with their hands from every meal while sitting across straw mats, but forks and spoons are more often used. Below are some of the more popular Malay dishes.
Famous Malay Food
A dish so popular, even the Chinese and Indians serve their own similar version. At its very basic, Nasi Lemak is a plate of white rice cooked in coconut milk. Accompanying it on the plate is 'sambal', a chilli paste mixed with salted anchovies or 'ikan bilis'.
The sambal breaks or makes the dish. If it tastes too sweet or the texture is too oily, then the Nasi Lemak is ruined. A good sambal is a balance of mushiness, spiciness and sweetness. Then there is an egg served, either boiled or fried, with cucumber slices and a helping of salted anchovies and peanuts. Finally, you may add beef or chicken 'rendang', essentially pieces of meat cooked in rich coconut milk and curry.
Simply delicious, Nasi Lemak is eaten throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner or super. The meaning of its name happens to be 'Fat Rice' in Malay – a humorous paragon of its calorie-rich nature.
Roti Jala is a popular tea-time entrée. It literally translates to 'net bread' referring to its thread-like pattern that resembles a fishing net. Essentially a type of crape, Roti Jala occasionally replaces rice in the Malay home for meals. The batter is made from a mixture of plain flour and eggs, with a pinch of turmeric powder and butter that gives it a yellow colour. A special cup or mould with small holes is then used to make the lacy crepe which is cooked over a hot griddle.
Satay is our own version of a Western kebab, only sweeter and somewhat smaller. Pieces of softened, marinated meat are skewered on a thin stick made of coconut frond ('lidi' in Malay). It is then barbecued over a tray of hot steaming charcoals until brown and tenderly moist.
A wide range of meat can be used from rabbit to venison but beef and chicken is the most common. Accompanying it is thick peanut gravy and 'ketupat', rice cooked in coconut milk, cut into cubes and wrapped into an attractive weave of coconut leaves.