(Worldkings) Malaysian cuisine consists of cooking traditions and practices found in Malaysia, and reflects the multiethnic makeup of its population
1. Ketupat, Lemang and Rendang
Ketupat, Lemang and Rendang (greetingfromengland.worldpress.com)
The sight of ketupat hanging in the kitchen, the smell of lemang being grilled and the spicy aroma of rendang are definite features during the Muslim festivals of Hari Raya Aililfitri and Aidiladha. Ketupat is rice cake, or rice dumpling, cooked in a pouch made from intricately woven coconut leaves. It is usually savoured with serunding (beef or chicken floss), peanut sauce or rendang.
Rendang is a luxuriously spiced dry curry made of beef or chicken. Like most Malay food, the spicier it is, the better. Rendang also goes well with other food including rice and glutinous rice. It is also eaten with lemang or glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk in hallowed bamboo trunks, and barbecued over open fire.
2. Roti Jala
Roti Jala (breadebutter.worldpress.com)
A popular teatime entrée, roti jala is one of the most unique Malay culinary creations. This lacy pancake literally means ‘net bread’, named so for its web-like appearance. It is made from a creamy batter of plain flour, eggs, butter and coconut milk with a dash of turmeric for colour. A special metal or plastic funnel with small holes is used to achieve the lacy effect. The batter is then cooked briefly over a greased hot griddle, and usually rolled or folded. Roti jala goes great with all types of curries and gravies.
3. Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak (tourdulichsingapore.net)
Nasi Lemak is the national meal of Malaysia. Well, unofficially. But considering the love Malaysians have for nasi lemak, it may as well be. If there is anything that is quintessentially Malaysian, nasi lemak would definitely sum it up. Nasi lemak is rice cooked in rich , creamy coconut milk and flavoured with pandanus leaf, ginger and lemongrass for fragrance and that unforgettable taste.
Typically, nasi lemak is served with fried peanuts and anchovies, hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices and a dollop of sambal. Die-hard fans of this meal love to have their nasi lemak with many other side dishes such as fried chicken, fried cow lungs in chilly or cuttlefish gravy. When is the best time to have nasi lemak? Anytime. And it is available at just about anywhere from roadside stalls, food courts, restaurants to five-star hotels.
The name laksa is derived from a Sanskrit word, ‘lakhsa’, which means ‘a lot’. It refers to the many ingredients, and effort, put into making this rich, delicious noodle dish. In general, there are two types of laksa-assam laksa, a tangy soup and curry laksa, its thicker, creamier counterpart. There are significant differences between the Chinese, Peranakan and Malay laksa but the base and essence are the same. Ingredients for laksa consist mainly of fish, usually mackerel or prawns, cooked with a myriad of aromatic herbs and spices. Laksa is accompanied by other condiments and garnishing such as shredded cucumber, pineapple, bean sprouts or mint leaves.
Each region or state has its own signature laksa. The most famous of course is the Penang assam laksa, a sweet-sour hawker dish popular across Malaysia. The least soupy of all the variants of laksa is probably laksa Johor, which is traditionally eaten with hands. Laksam is Kelantan’s specialty, made from rice flour and eaten with a thick fish gravy cooked with coconut milk. Laksa Sarawak is slightly different as it uses belacan rather than fish and a host of other herbs and spices.
Satay is probably Malaysia’ most famous contribution to the culinary world. From San Francisco to Melbourne, the appetite-stirring aroma grilled Malaysian satay permeates. It is even one of the main menus served on Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier. Satay, also spelled “sate”, are small pieces of meat (either marinated chicken, beef or mutton) skewered on sticks and barbecued over a charcoal fire. It is then brushed with oil mixed with honey and other spices. Satay is served with cucumber wedges, onion and rice cakes called ketupat or nasihimpit. What makes satay so special though, is the spicy peanut dip.
Satay stalls are usually open after the sun has set and they are found in most cities and towns. The most talked-about satay in Malaysia is perhaps satay Kajang. There are also other variants of satay available, like satay celup in Melaka. Satay celup refers to raw or semi-boiled seafood on skewers, akin to steamboat or locally known as lok-lok, As its name suggests, one must celup or dunk itin a boiling pot of water before eating it with a special sauce.
6. Ais Kacang
Ais Kacang (malayslang.wikia.com)
Ais Kacang or air batu campur (ABC) as it is sometimes called, is probably the most popular Malaysian dessert. It is a concoction of sweet and colorful ingredients like sweet red beans, grass jelly (cincau), cream corn, ground peanuts (kacang), sometimes nutmeg, and other ingredients. It is added to a mound of shaved ice, drizzled with a generous amount of syrup, palm sugar and evaporated milk. In some shops, ais kacang special is topped with a scoop of ice cream of your choice. This delightful combination of colours, tastes and textures is a favourite treat especially on hot days, and after a spicy meal. It is available at almost any restaurant.
Every festive season has its special delicacies. The Muslim festival of Hari Raya Aidilfitri would not be complete without dodol. This sweet, gooey, gelatinous treat is made from rice flour, palm sugar and coconut milk, continuously stirred in a large wok over fire for five to six hours. In a traditonal Malay kampung, neighbours usually come together to toil over this mix as Hari Raya approaches. This ritual helps to strengthen the spirit of goodwill, unity and harmony amongst kampung folk. These days, dodol is sold especially during the fasting month at Bazaar Ramadan. Some homestay programmes even offer tourists the chance to try their hand at the art of dodol-making.
8. Pengat Pisang
Pengat Pisang (ulampegaga.com)
Pengat is a local dessert that is made from tropical fruits cooked in coconut milk and palm sugar. There is a whole range of pengat available in Malaysia, such as pengat durian ( a fruit with a thorny outer skin but sweet creamy flesh), pengat ubi (tapioca), pengat pisang (banana), pengat jagung (sweet corn), pengat sago and the list goes on. Pengat pisang is a pretty simple dessert to make and it tastes delicious. Not to rich, not too sweet but an excellent conclusion to a satisfying meal.
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