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File:Nasi Lemak Sambal Cumi in Indonesia 2.jpg

Nasi lemak fragrant coconut rice served with sambal sotong (chili squid), one of the most popular Malay breakfast dishes.

Malay cuisine is the cooking tradition of ethnic Malays of Southeast Asia, residing in modern-day Malaysia, Indonesia (parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan), Singapore, Brunei, Southern Thailand and the Philippines (mostly southern) as well as in Cocos Islands, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Different Malay regions are all known for their unique or signature dishes—Pattani, Terengganu and Kelantan for their nasi dagang, nasi kerabu and keropok lekor; Pahang and Perak for its durian-based cuisine, gulai tempoyak; Kedah and Penang for their northern-style asam laksa and rojak; Satun and Perlis for its bunga kuda dessert; Negeri Sembilan for its lemak-based dishes; Malacca for their spicy cincalok; Singapore for their rojak bandung and roti prata; Riau for its ikan patin (Pangasius fish) dishes, gulai ikan patin and asam pedas ikan patin; the Riau Islands for their sup ikan; West Sumatra for its rendang and lemang; Deli Malays of North Sumatra for their nasi goreng teri medan and gulai ketam;[1] Jambi for its ikan mas panggang and tempoyak; Palembangese Malays of South Sumatra for their pempek, mi celor and nasi minyak; Bangka Belitung for its siput gonggong and terang bulan; West Kalimantan and Sarawak for its bubur pedas and ayam pansuh; Brunei for their nasi katok and unique ambuyat dish; Sri Lankan Malays of Sri Lanka for its kalu dodol and watalappam; and Cape Malays of South Africa for their bobotie, boeber and koe'sister.

The main characteristic of traditional Malay cuisine is the generous use of spices. Coconut milk is also important in giving the Malay dishes their rich, creamy character. The other foundation is belacan (prawn paste), which is used as a base for sambal, a rich sauce or condiment made from belacan, chili peppers, onions and garlic. Malay cooking also makes plentiful use of lemongrass and galangal.[2]

Nearly every Malay meal is served with rice, which is also the staple food in many other Asian cultures. Although there are various types of dishes in a Malay meal, all are served at once, not in courses. Food is eaten delicately with the fingers of right hand, never with the left which is used for personal ablutions, and Malays rarely use utensils.[3]

History and influences[]

It is uncertain when the Malay culinary traditions took shape, but the earliest record of the tradition is from the 15th century when Malacca Sultanate became the important trade centre in the Malay archipelago.[4] The most important legacy of Malacca derived from its involvement in the spice trade, its openness to the ingredients and culinary techniques introduced by foreigners notably the Arabs, Persians, Chinese and Indians and its cultivation of a rich eclectic gastronomy. Malacca was also a catalyst for the development of two other rich and unique culinary cultures which are the fusion of Malay with Chinese and European traditions, cuisines respectively known as Nyonya and Eurasian. In the centuries before and after Malacca, there were other non-Malay groups from Buginese, Javanese to Minangkabau who were absorbed into Malay society at different times, aided by similarity in lifestyle and common religion, and had varying degrees of influence on Malay food.[5]

It is important to understand the nuance and differences of what makes a dish Malay, which is intertwined with the differences between the concept of Malay as an ethnic group or as a race. In Indonesia, Malay cuisine is more specifically refer to the cuisine of ethnic Malay people that traditionally inhabit east coast of Sumatra, Malay Peninsula and coastal Borneo. In Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and outside of Malay archipelago (such as Sri Lanka and South Africa) however, the term "Malay cuisine" are often took a broader scope, which includes those culinary traditions of other neighbouring common Austronesian peoples; which often includes Minangkabaus, Javanese and Bugis, or even its fusion derivative.

Nasi lemak, rice cooked in rich coconut milk probably is the most popular dish ubiquitous in Malay town and villages. Nasi lemak is considered as Malaysia's national dish.[6] Another example is ketupat or nasi himpit, compressed rice cooked in palm leaves, is popular especially during Hari Raya. Various meats and vegetables could be made into gulai or kari, a type of curry dish with variations of spices mixtures that clearly display Indian influence already adopted by Malay people since ancient times. Since most Malays are Muslims, Malay cuisine rigorously observes the Islamic halal dietary law. Protein intake are mostly taken from beef, water buffalo, goat, and lamb meat, and also includes poultry and fishes. Pork and any non-halal meats, also alcohol is prohibited and absent from Malay daily diet. Laksa, a hybrid of Malay and Chinese cuisine is also a popular dish. Malay cuisine also adopted some their neighbours' cuisine traditions, such as rendang adopted from Minangkabau cuisine in Sumatra, nasi ulam from Betawi cuisine and satays from Javanese cuisine in Java. However, the Malays have developed distinctive tastes and recipes.

Malay cuisine also spread outside the Malay archipelago and influenced other cuisine in the countries. Bobotie is a South African dish that has Cape Malay origins. It consists of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. Of the many dishes common to South Africa, bobotie is perhaps closest to being the national dish, because it isn't commonly found in any other country. The recipe originates from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian bobotok. In other country, kalu dodol is a Sri Lankan dessert that has Sri Lankan Malay origins. It consists of kithul jaggery (from the sap of the toddy palm), rice flour and coconut milk.


Nearly every culture and language has contributed to the culinary language. Including Malay, it also possessed its own terminologies of food that embrace its preparation, method of cooking, and numerous unique food names.[7] The Malay food terminologies has been shaped by cultural transmission over many generations.[8] The average Malay parents would usually bequeath the skill and process of cooking to their children through it terminologies that act as medium of transmitting that occurs not only during daily cooking activities, traditional events but also during wedding ceremony.[9]

Food preparation[]


Typical festive fare during Hari Raya Puasa or Hari Raya Haji (clockwise from bottom left): beef soup, nasi himpit (compressed rice cubes), beef rendang and sayur lodeh.

In Malay food preparation, varieties of ingredients used are often described as spicy and flavorful as it is melting pot of spices, herbs and roots. Strong, tangy and flavorful fresh herbs, spices and ingredients such as serai (lemongrass), pandan (screwpine), kemangi (a type of basil), kesum (polygonum), buah pala (nutmeg), kunyit (turmeric) and bunga kantan (wild ginger buds), biji sawi (mustard seeds) and halba (fenugreek) are often used. Apart from the Malay ingredients terminologies, another important aspect for Malay food terminologies is the equipment and utensils used.[10] Several traditional Malay cooking equipments including several types of grinders called lesung batu (pestle and mortar), batu giling (stone roller), and the batu boh (mill) used for preparing spices and pastes. Vegetables are diced on a landas (wooden board); while a coconut scraper or kukur niyur is indispensable in making both curries and sweets. Pastries are also made for desserts and for this a torak (rolling pin) and papan penorak (pastry board) are considered essential. Besides the preparation and the cooking methods, food names also play an important role in Malay food terminologies.[11] Malay foods are typically are named after factors such as the appearance of the food, the way food is prepared, places, people and by certain event or incident. Some well-known Malay food names include buah melaka, lompat tikam, badak berendam, tahi itik, cek mek molek, serabe, beriani gam, cakar ayam, and nasi dagang.

Cooking methods[]

File:Tempoyak Ikan Patin 2.JPG

Tempoyak ikan patin, pangasius fish in fermented durian sauce

Different cultures and language tend to have their own unique ways of cooking and each of them has different terminologies which often come from historical necessities.[12] Traditional cooking methods in Malay cuisine are quite similar to life in Malay villages, slow and laidback as most authentic Malay delicacies cooked on low heat for a long time as compared to Chinese food.[13] There are numerous methods of cooking terminologies that are used in Malay cooking that consist of dry and moist methods.[14] Tumis (use a small amount of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat), salai (smoked or grilled food on the fire such as dried fish and the ingredients are usually cut into pieces or thinly sliced to facilitate fast cooking), sangai (method of cooking whereby food mainly dries spices are frying without oil), layur (warm over low heat to dry) are examples of terminologies for dry-heat cooking methods. On the other hand, moist-heat cooking method includes terms such as tanak (cooking in a pot especially rice), jerang (boiling or simmering normally used of liquids), celur (blanching or dipping something such as vegetable into the hot water) and reneh (simmering or boiling food).[15]


As defined by Ainuddin, Malay food has five characteristics:

  • Rich in herbs and spices;
  • Coconut milk is one of the main ingredients;
  • Usually spicy;
  • Meat is usually stewed with a thick gravy; and
  • Fried fish and seafood are usually seasoned with turmeric powder.

Regional cuisine variations[]


File:Ambuyat in Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei.jpg

Ambuyat, national dish of Brunei

Bruneian Malay cuisine is often spicy and commonly eaten with either rice or noodles. Beef rendang, nasi lemak and pajeri nanas are popular foods in Brunei.[16] Among the few dishes peculiar to Brunei is ambuyat, a sticky ball of flavourless sago starch, which is wrapped around a bamboo fork and dipped into a spicy and sour gravy.

Nasi katok, which literally means "knock rice", is a popular meal which consists of plain rice, fried chicken and sambal, a spicy relish made from ground chili peppers and a variety of secondary ingredients including but not limited to shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, lime juice, vinegar and anchovies. Nasi katok is traditionally served wrapped in brown paper.


File:Otak-otak Jakarta.JPG

Otak-otak in banana leaf

The cuisine of Malay Indonesians spread in east coast of Sumatra and Kalimantan, primarily West Kalimantan. Because of close ethnic kinship and proximity to Malaysian Malays, many dishes are shared between the two countries. For example nasi lemak and nasi ulam are considered as native dishes of Riau and Jambi. Malay cuisine also shares many similarities with neighboring Minangkabau cuisine of West Sumatra, Palembangese cuisine of South Sumatra and Acehnese cuisine of Aceh; such as sharing gulai, asam pedas, kari, lemang, nasi minyak, pempek, pindang, rendang and roti canai. This is due to the fact that the Minangkabaus are culturally closely related to the Malays. Malay Indonesian cuisine has also been influence by Arab, Betawi, Chinese, Indian and Javanese cuisine.

Otak-otak is a dish involving fish pieces wrapped in banana leaves. Grilled fish cake made of ground fish meat mixed with tapioca starch and spices.


Sambal belacan made of fresh chilies and belacan

Tempoyak is a fermented durian sauce[17] and sambal belacan is a Malay-style of sambal made of fresh chilies and toasted belacan in a stone mortar. Both are the familiar condiments in Sumatra.

Other Malay Indonesian dishes, includes acar, amplang, ayam goreng, ayam pansuh, ayam penyet, ayam percik, begedil, bihun goreng, bobotok, bubur asyura, bubur cha cha, bubur lambuk, bubur pedas, cincalok, epok-epok, various gulai, ikan bakar, various ikan patin dishes, kangkung belacan, kemplang, ketupat, kwetiau goreng, various laksa, lepat, lontong, martabak, mi celor, mi goreng, mi kari, mi rebus, nasi ambeng, nasi briyani, various nasi goreng, nasi kari, nasi kebuli, pekasam, rojak, roti jala, roti john, roti tisu, sambal sotong, samosa, satay, sayur lodeh, various siput gonggong dishes, soto, soto mi, sup ikan, sup kambing, sup rusa, tauhu goreng, tekwan, terang bulan and ulam.


File:Bandung Drinks.jpg

Sirap bandung drinks

Malaysian Malay cuisine bears many similarities to Malay Indonesian cuisine. It has also been influenced by Chinese, Indian, Thai, Javanese and Minangkabau cuisine. Many Malay dishes revolve around the rempah, which is usually sautééd in oil to draw out flavours to form the base of a dish. A dipping relish called sambal with Indonesian-origins is an essential accompaniment for most Malay dish.

Nasi lemak is a rice cooked in rich coconut milk probably is the most popular dish ubiquitous in Malay town and villages. Nasi lemak is considered as Malaysia's national dish.

The sirap bandung drink consists of evaporated milk or condensed milk flavoured with rose syrup, giving it a pink colour. The drink is an adaptation of rose milk from India.

Other Malay dish in Malaysia, includes apam balik, ayam goreng, ayam masak merah, ayam pansuh, ayam percik, bubur pedas, char kway teow, cincalok, ikan bakar, various kari, karipap, kebebe, kerabu, keropok lekor, kerutuk daging, various laksa, Maggi goreng, masak lemak, mee bandung, mee Jawa, mee kolo, mee siam, mee soto, mee wantan, nasi ambeng, nasi beriani, nasi dagang, nasi goreng, nasi paprik, nasi tumpang, pek nga, roti canai, roti john, satay, taugeh ayam, tempoyak and ulam.


File:Roti Prata Curry Large.JPG

Roti prata served with chicken curry

Situated between Malaysia and Indonesia, Singaporean Malay dish is influenced by the food of the neighbouring Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and the Riau Islands. Despite absorbing regional influences, it tends to be adapted to local tastes and differ from their counterparts in neighbouring countries.[18] Hence, Singaporean Malay cuisine features a unique set of influences, especially from Minangkabau and Javanese cuisine.

Roti prata is a Malay Singaporeans' signature dish. Roti prata is a fried flatbread that is cooked over a flat grilling pan. It is prepared by flipping the dough into a large thin layer before folding the outside edges inwards. Dendeng is a thinly sliced dried meat. Dendeng preserved through a mixture of sugar and spices and dried via a frying process. It clearly shows Minangkabau-influences.

Other Malay Singaporean dishes, includes assam pedas, bakso, curry puff, gulai daun ubi, Katong laksa, ketupat, lemak siput, mee siam, mee goreng, naan, nasi biryani, nasi goreng, nasi padang, rojak bandung, roti john, sambal stingray, satay, satay bee hoon, soto and sup tulang.

South Africa[]

File:Chicken sosatie.jpg

Sosatie made up of chicken

The Cape Malay cuisine is a culinary tradition of Cape Malay people in South Africa. Cape Malay cuisine has been influences by Malay itself and Javanese cuisine. Thus, Cape Malay influence has brought spicy curries, sambals, pickled fish and variety of fish stews in South Africa. Adaptations of traditional foods such as bobotie and sosatie are staples in many South African homes. Faldela Williams wrote three cookbooks, including The Cape Malay Cookbook, which became instrumental in preserving the cultural traditions of Cape Malay cuisine.[19][20]

Sosatie is a traditional Cape Malay dish of meat (usually lamb or mutton) cooked on skewers.[21] The term derived from sate (skewered meat) and saus (spicy sauce). To prepare sosatie, mutton chunks are marinated overnight in fried onions, chillies, garlic, curry leaves and tamarind juice, then threaded on skewers and either pan-fried or grilled.[22]

Cape Malay yellow rice, a sweet dish made with raisins, cinnammon and sugar, also has its origins in Cape Malay cookery, often being referred to as Cape Malay yellow rice.[23]

Other Cape Malay dishes, includes biryani, boeber, chutney, falooda, frikkadel, koesister, roti, sambals, samoosa and tomato bredie.

Sri Lanka[]

Sri Lankan Malay cuisine has played a significant role in shaping Sri Lankan cuisine. Achcharu is a dish that originates from the local Malay community and is now widely popular among all ethnic groups in the country.[24][25] It is a selection of veggies in a pickled sauce and blends sweet, sour and spicy flavours.[26] Mee goreng and nasi goreng are also popular dishes in the country, a result of cultural influences from Indonesia and the country's local Malay community.[27][28][29]

Other Sri Lankan Malay dishes, includes varieties of curry, ekor sop, kalu dodol, sambals and watalappam.

List of Malay dishes[]

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  • Acar, pickled vegetables or fruits with dried chilli, peanuts, and spices. Its originating from Indonesia.
  • Ambuyat, a dish derived from the interior trunk of the sago palm. It is a starchy bland substance, similar to tapioca starch. This dish is national dish of Brunei.
  • Amplang, cracker made from Spanish mackerel, tapioca starch and other seasonings, and then deep fried.
  • Apam johol, a sweetened rice cake, wrapped in rambai leaves to preserve the aroma and to make it look good. It is sometimes eaten with rendang, sambal tumis and bean porridge.[30]
  • Arisa, a boiled, cracked, or coarsely-ground wheat, mixed with meat and seasoned. Its consistency varies between a porridge and a dumpling.
  • Asam pedas, a sour stew of fish (usually mackerel), tamarind, chili, tomatoes, okra and Vietnamese coriander (daun kesum).
  • Ayam golek or ayam percik, grilled chicken with spicy sauce.
  • Ayam goreng, a generic term for deep fried chicken, typically marinated in a base of seasonings prior to cooking.
    • Ayam goreng kunyit, deep fried chicken, marinated in a base of turmeric and other seasonings.
  • Ayam masak merah, a casserole of chicken pieces in dried chillies sambal.[31] It tends to be a home-cooked dish, so many variations on the recipe exist.
  • Ayam pansuh, a dish prepared by cooking chicken meat in a bamboo stalk, filled with water (which will later be the soup), seasonings and covered with tapioca leaves from the cassava plant.
  • Begedil, spherical fritters made from mashed potato and occasionally ground meat.
  • Bihun belacan, rice vermicelli dressed in a gravy made from ground chillies, belacan, tamarind, and dried shrimp. It is garnished with cured cuttlefish, julienned cucumber, bean sprouts and century egg wedges.[32]
  • Bihun goreng, stir-fried rice vermicelli.
  • Bihun kari, rice vermicelli mixed with curry, served with mung bean sprout, fried tofu and red chillies sambal.
  • Bobotie, Cape Malay dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping.
  • Bubur cha cha, breakfast dish prepared using pearled sago, sweet potatoes, yams, bananas, coconut milk, pandan leaves, sugar and salt.
  • Bubur lambuk, a savoury rice porridge consumed during the fasting month of Ramadhan, made with a mixture of lemongrass, spices, vegetables, and chicken or beef. It is usually cooked communally at a local mosque, which is then distributed to the congregation as a meal to break the fast every evening.
  • Bubur pedas, a traditional porridge dish made from finely ground sauteed rice and grated coconut, a specialty of West Kalimantan.
  • Cincalok, fermented small shrimps or krill. It is usually served as a condiment together with chilies, shallots and lime juice.
  • Dalca, a stewed vegetable curry with lentils.[33]
  • Dendeng, a thinly sliced dried meat.
  • Frikkadel, Cape Malay dish comprising usually baked, but sometimes deep-fried, meatballs prepared with onion, bread, eggs, vinegar and spices.
  • Gulai, a type of soupy curry-like dishes that could be made from various ingredients; meats, fish or vegetables. This dish originating from Minangkabau.
    • Gulai ayam, chicken gulai.
    • Gulai kambing, goat or mutton gulai.
    • Gulai ketam, crab gulai, a speciality of Deli Malays of Medan, North Sumatra.
  • Ikan bakar, grilled/barbecued fish with either chilli, kunyit (turmeric) or other spice based sauce.
    • Ikan mas panggang, barbecued common carp dish, a specialty of Jambi.
    • Ikan pari bakar, barbecued stingray dish.
  • Ikan patin, large catfish cooked in various ways such as gulai and asam pedas, a speciality of Riau, Sumatra and Pahang.
  • Kacang pool, a stew of cooked broad beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper and other vegetable, herb and spice ingredients.
  • Kangkung belacan, water spinach wok-fried in shrimp paste (belacan) and hot chilli peppers. Various other items are cooked this way, including petai (which is quite bitter when eaten raw; some older generation Malays still eat it as is) and yardlong beans.
  • Kari, the Malay adaptation of curry dishes. Just like gulai, it could be made from various ingredients; meats or vegetables. A popular one is kari ayam (chicken curry).
    • Kari ayam, chicken curry.
    • Kari kambing, goat curry.
    • Kari kepala ikan, fish head curry.
  • Kebebe, food which made of thirteen ingredients that has a bitter, salty, sweet, sour and spicy mixed taste. Its allegedly able to get rid of nausea after taking too much food.
  • Kemplang, traditional savoury fish cracker commonly found in southern parts of Sumatra, made of wahoo or any type of Spanish mackerel.
  • Kerabu, a type of salad-like dish which can be made with any combination of cooked or uncooked fruits and vegetables, as well as the occasional meat or seafood ingredient. There are many kerabu recipes, the populer one is kerabu taugeh.
  • Kerutuk daging, a type of coconut milk-based curry. Traditionally it is best eaten with white rice, sambal belacan and ulam.
  • Ketupat, a type of glutinous rice dumpling that has been wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch and boiled. As the rice cooks, the grains expand to fill the pouch and the rice becomes compressed. This method of cooking gives the ketupat its characteristic form and texture. Usually eaten with rendang (a type of dry beef curry) or served as an accompaniment to satay or gado-gado. Ketupat is also traditionally served by Malays at open houses on festive occasions such as Eid al-Fitr.
  • Kuning, rice dish cooked with turmeric, lemongrass, salt, bay leaves, and other spices to taste.
  • Kurma, chicken or mutton braised with a medley of ground spices, nuts, and coconut milk or grated coconut.[34]
  • Kuzi ayam, a very unique thick based curry. Traditionally it is best eaten with white rice, sambal belacan and ulam.
  • Kwetiau goreng, stir fried flat rice noodle dish from Indonesia and popular in other Malay countries. The Malay version is without pork.
  • Laksa, a spicy noodle soup dish that consists of thick wheat noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, prawn or fish, served in spicy soup based on either rich and spicy curry coconut milk or on sour asam (tamarind or gelugur) with various types.
    • Laksa asam, sour, fish and tamarind-based soup of laksa.
    • Laksa kari, coconut-based curry soup of laksa.
  • Lakso, noodle dish served in savoury yellowish coconut milk-based soup, flavoured with fish, and sprinkled with fried shallots.
  • Lekor, a speciality of the state of Terengganu and other states on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, is a savoury cake made from a combination of batter and shredded fish. Sliced and fried just before serving, it is eaten with hot sauce.
  • Lemang, glutinous rice and coconut milk cooked in a hollowed bamboo stick lined with banana leaves.
  • Lepat, a sticky rice dumpling mixed with peanuts cooked with coconut milk and packed inside a young coconut leaf or palm leaf.
  • Lontong, compressed rice cake in the form of a cylinder wrapped inside a banana leaf.
  • Masak lemak, a style of cooking which employs liberal amounts of turmeric-seasoned coconut milk.
  • Mi bandung, a famous noodle dish cooked with dried shrimp and blended chili. Often serve with half boiled egg.
  • Mi celor, a noodle soup dish served in a coconut milk and shrimp-based broth, specialty of Palembang, South Sumatra.
  • Mi goreng, spicy stir-fried noodle dish, originating from Indonesia.
    • Maggi goreng, a variant of mi goreng using Maggi instant noodles.
  • Mi jawa, noodle dish made up of yellow egg noodle drenched in blended sweet potato base with tomato sauce and prawn stock.
  • Mi kari, curry noodles made up of thin yellow noodles and/or string thin rice vermicelli with spicy curry soup, sambal, coconut milk, spices and a choice of toppings.
  • Mi kolo, light and tossed noodles in a transparent sauce.
  • Mi rebus, a famous noodle dish which consists of mee (noodle, salt and egg) served with a tangy, spicy and sweet potato-based sauce. It is sometimes also called mee jawa, perhaps as a nod to its Javanese origins.
  • Mi siam, noodle dish of fried thin rice vermicelli with spicy gravy.
  • Mi wantan, thin egg noodles with wonton dumplings.
  • Murtabak, a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread eaten with curry gravy which is commonly found in Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia.
  • Nasi ambeng, fragrant rice dish that consists of steamed white rice, chicken curry or chicken stewed in soy sauce, beef or chicken rendang, sambal goreng, urap, perkedel and serundeng.
  • Nasi briyani, Malay-style of flavoured rice dish cooked or served with mutton, chicken, vegetable or fish curry.
    • Beriani gam, a flavoured rice dish usually served with chicken or mutton, specialty of Johor.
  • Nasi berlauk, plain rice served with different variety of dishes.
  • Nasi dagang, the nasi lemak of east coast Peninsula Malaysia, found mostly in the states of Terengganu and Kelantan as well as Riau province in Indonesia.
  • Nasi goreng, fried rice dish with various types.
    • Nasi goreng kampung, a typical variant, traditionally flavoured with pounded fried fish (normally mackerel), though recently fried anchovies are used in place of it.
    • Nasi goreng kari, a fried rice cooked with curry.
    • Nasi goreng masak pedas, spicy fried rice served with chicken or beef.
    • Nasi goreng pattaya, covering or wrapping chicken fried rice in a thin fried egg or omelette.
    • Nasi goreng teri medan, an anchovy fried rice. This dish is a Malay Deli speciality of North Sumatra.
  • Nasi kari, curry rice dish with Indonesian-origin.
  • Nasi katok, rice dish consists of plain rice, fried chicken and sambal, a spicy relish made from ground chili peppers and a variety of secondary ingredients.
  • Nasi kerabu, a type of rice which is blue in colour (dyed by Clitoria ternatea flowers), originating from Kelantan.
  • Nasi lemak, rice steamed with coconut milk.
  • Nasi minyak, rice flavoured with whole dried spices and ghee, usually served with rendang. As the name implies, it is on the buttery and rich side (minyak means oil). A variation of nasi minyak dyed in multiple shades of colour is called nasi hujan panas.
  • Nasi padang, a steamed white rice served with an array–sometimes as many as twelve or more–of pre-cooked dishes, the mini banquet usually laid out style in small plates.
  • Nasi paprik, a rice dish with lauk, typically chicken, originated from southern Thailand.
  • Nasi tumpang, a rice packed in a cone-shaped banana leaf. A pack of nasi tumpang consists of an omelette, meat floss, chicken or shrimp curry and sweet gravy. The dish originating from Kelantan.
  • Nasi ulam, steamed rice dish mixed with various herbs, especially the leaves of Centella asiatica or often replaced with kemangi, vegetables, spices and accompanied with various side dishes.
  • Otak-otak, a spicy fish cake grilled in a banana leaf wrapping.
  • Pekasam, the Malay term for fermented food. In Malay cookery, pekasam usually refers to freshwater fish fermented with salt, palm sugar, toasted rice grains and pieces of asam gelugur. Making pekasam is a tradition in South Kalimantan as well as in northern states of Peninsular Malaysia. Chenderoh Lake in the state of Perak is a hub for freshwater fishing as well as the production of pekasam.[35]
  • Pasembur, a salad of shredded cucumber, boiled potatoes, fried bean curd, turnip, bean sprouts, prawn fritters, spicy fried crab, and fried octopus.
  • Pempek, a savoury fishcake delicacy, made of fish and tapioca, from Palembang, South Sumatra.
  • Perut ikan, a spicy stew comprising mainly vegetables, herbs and getting its distinctive taste mainly from fish bellies preserved in brine and Piper sarmentosum.
  • Pindang, fish or eggs cooked in salt and certain spices.
  • Pulut, glutinous rice is a type of short-grained Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It is widely used during the Raya festive seasons as traditional food.
  • Rendang, a spicy meat stew originating from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia,[36] and adopted by Malay throughout archipelago. Rendang is traditionally prepared by the Malay community during festive occasions.
  • Rojak, traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish with various types, it clearly shows Javanese influences.
    • Rojak bandung, a rojak dish consists of boiled water spinach, cucumber, cuttlefish, and dressed with a black shrimp paste sauce with added garlic and chilli paste.
  • Roti, the term encompasses all forms of bread in Malay and Indonesian language. In Cape Malay cuisine, roti is a round flatbread usually made from wheat flour.
  • Roti canai, a thin unleavened bread with a flaky crust, fried on a skillet with oil and served with condiments or curry.
    • Roti prata, Singaporean Malay fried flatbread that is cooked over a flat grilling pan.
  • Roti jala, a special bread with a five-hole perforation used to make the bread looks like a fish net. It is usually eaten as an accompaniment to a curried dish, or served as a sweet with serawa. Serawa is made from a mixture of boiled coconut milk, brown sugar and pandan leaves.
  • Roti john, a spiced meat omelette sandwich, popularly eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
  • Roti kaya bakar, a traditional breakfast dish. Kaya is a sweet coconut and egg jam which is spread over toasted bread.
  • Roti tissue, a variant of roti canai made as thin as a piece of 40–50 cm round-shaped tissue in density. It is then carefully folded by the cook into a tall, conical shape and left to stand upright. Roti tissue may be served with curry gravy, dal and chutneys, or finished off with sweet substances such as caramelised sugar and eaten as a dessert.
  • Samosa or samoosa, Malay-style of samosa—a fried or baked pastry with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, rousong, cheese, beef or other meats.
  • Sata, a traditional dish from Terengganu, consisting of spiced fish meat wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on a grill.
  • Satay, the dish were originally from Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, and distributed widely across the Malay Archipelago. It is widely popular and common within Indonesian cuisine with rich variations and recipes. Malay chicken satay closely resembles Madura satay with rich peanut sauce. In Malaysia, the most popular variant are kajang satay.
  • Satay celup, a dish where an assortment of raw and semi-cooked seafood, meat (including raw meat) and vegetables on skewers are dunked into a hot boiling pot of satay gravy.
  • Sayur lodeh, a stew of vegetables cooked in a lightly spiced coconut milk gravy. It is Javanese influences and mostly popular in southern region of Malaysia.
  • Siput gonggong, seafood made of Laevistrombus canarium, specialty of Riau Islands and Bangka Belitung.
  • Sosatie, a traditional Cape Malay dish of meat (usually lamb or mutton) cooked on skewers. The term derives from sate (skewered meat) and saus (spicy sauce).
  • Soto, the most popular is soto ayam, chicken soup with rice vermicelli and ketupat, it clearly shows Indonesian cuisine influences.
    • Soto mi, spicy noodle soup dish with soto-gravy.
  • Sup ikan, fish soup specialty of Riau Islands that made of usually red snapper and dried shrimp, seasoned with shallot, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, add with tomato, scallion and fried shallots.
  • Sup kambing, a hearty mutton soup slow simmered with aromatic herbs and spices, and garnished with fried shallots and fresh cilantro.
  • Sup rusa, a soup dish made up of deer meat, carrots, cabbage, celery and spices.
  • Sup tulang, a soup dish made up of mutton or beef leg bones stewed in a spice. The bones are broken to allow the marrow to be eaten.
  • Tahu goreng, fried bean curd served with condiments, such as sambals or sweet sauce.
  • Taugeh ayam, steamed chicken with bean sprouts and light soya sauce flavoured with oil.
  • Tekwan, surimi fishcake akin to pempek, bihun rice noodle, jicama and mushroom soup.
  • Telur pindang, marbled eggs boiled with herbs and spices.
  • Tharid, a lamb stew dish of pieces of bread in a vegetable and lamb broth.[34]
  • Tomato bredie, mutton stew cooked with a very long time, and its seasonings include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves as well as chili.
  • Tumis kangkung, stir-fried water spinach.
  • Ulam, a traditional salad of undressed herbs, greens and vegetables which may be cooked or uncooked. An ulam spread may include items such as banana blossoms, cucumber, winged beans, pegaga leaves, petai, and yardlong beans. Ulam is typically eaten with a pungent dipping sauce like sambal belacan.


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  • Balado, hot and spicy sauce, made by stir frying ground red hot chili pepper with other spices including garlic, shallot, tomato and key lime juice in coconut or palm oil.
  • Budu, an anchovies sauce known in Kelantan and Terengganu in Malaysia, Riau Islands, South Sumatra, Bangka Belitung and Western Kalimantan in Indonesia as well as Southern Thailand.
  • Kerisik, coconut-based condiments made by grated, toasted, then ground to a paste. It is sometimes referred to as coconut butter. It can be made at home or bought ready made. It is used in dishes such as kerabu salads and rendang.
  • Sambal, not a dish in itself, but a common chilli-based condiments to accompany most of foods.
    • Sambal belacan, sambal that made with chilies, shallots, garlic, stewed tomatoes, tamarind paste, coconut sugar, salt and belacan (shrimp paste).
    • Sambal gesek, sambal that made by pounding fried anchovies, cili padi, onions, and garlic together and then fried until fragrant.[30]
    • Sambal sotong, squid are cooked in a sambal-based sauce, made with chilies, shallots, garlic, stewed tomatoes, tamarind paste and belacan.
  • Serikaya, a jam made from a base of coconut milk, eggs and sugar.
  • Serunding, spiced meat floss originating from Javanese cuisine. Serunding may also refer to any dish where the primary meat or vegetable ingredient is shredded and pulled into thin strands. In Indonesia, this term strictly refers to a dry-toasted grated coconut mix instead.
  • Tempoyak, a popular Malay delicacy. It is durian extract which is preserved and kept in an urn. Commonly eaten with chillies and other dishes.

Kue and kuih[]

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Main article: Kue

Kue and kuih (plural: kuih muih)[37] is a selection of confectionery eaten as a snack during the morning or during midday, and are an important feature during festive occasions. It is a tradition shared by both the Malay and the Peranakan communities.

  • Agar-agar, the Malay word for a species of red algae. A natural vegetarian gelatin counterpart, agar-agar is used to make puddings and flavoured jellies like almond tofu, as well as fruit aspics.
  • Akok, a traditional sweet dessert in Kelantan, Malaysia. Made mainly from eggs, coconut milk, flour and brown sugar, akok have a distinctive sweet caramel taste. It is often served during afternoon snack together with coffee. Akok is prepared in a special cooking utensil called "dapur tembaga" made with solid brass of which it will be placed surrounded with charcoal.
  • Apam balik, terang bulan or martabak manis (in Indonesia), it is a bread like puff with sugar, corn, and coarse nut in the middle.
  • Bahulu, a traditional sponge cake with round shape.
  • Batik, a type of chocolate cake similar like the hedgehog slice made using Marie biscuit.
  • Bika ambon, a sponge cake made from ingredients such as tapioca flour, eggs, sugar, yeast and coconut milk. This cake is specialty of North Sumatra.
  • Bingka ubi, a baked kuih of grated tapioca mixed with a little tapioca flour (derived from the residue of the juice after the grated tapioca is squeezed to remove bitterness), coconut milk and white or brown sugar. The kuih is yellow if white caster sugar is used and brown if raw sugar or palm sugar (gula Malaka) is used. After baking a delicious dark brown crust tops the cake.
  • Cara berlauk, cake which made up of flour, egg, coconut milk and turmeric. The mixture is mixed thoroughly before being cooked in a special mould until it hardens. Before it hardens, a filling made up either spiced beef or chicken is added. This kuih is very popular in the month of Ramadhan.
  • Cincin, a deep fried dough pastry-based snack.
  • Clorot, a traditional cake with Javanese-influenced that made from a mixture of gula apong and rice flour, then rolled with palm leaves into cones and steam cooked.
  • Dadar gulung or ketayap, a pankace mix filled with coconut filling. Traditionally,the juice of pandan leaves is added to the pancake batter to get the green colour. Today green colouring is added and the flavour of the pandan leaves is obtained by artificial essence or by using pandan leaves to flavour the filling.
  • Dodol, a sweet, sticky, and thick toffee-like confection, made with heavily reduced coconut milk, jaggery, and rice flour.
  • Epok epok or karipap, a small pie consisting of specialised curry with chicken and potatoes in a deep-fried pastry shell. The curry is especially thick and rich to prevent itself from running.
  • Jemput-jemput, a traditional fritter made from flour and then fried.
  • Kalu dodol, a solid toffee- and jelly-like confection made by lengthy reduction of coconut milk, thickened with rice flour and sweetened with jaggery. This dish is specialty of Sri Lankan Malay cuisine.
  • Kochi, a pyramid of glutinuous rice flour filled with a sweet peanut paste.
  • Koe'sister, a traditional Cape Malay pastry often described as a spicy dumpling with a cake-like texture, finished off with a sprinkling of coconut.[38]
  • Kaswi, rice cakes made with palm sugar. The ingredients are mixed into a batter and poured into small cups (traditionally, it is done with Chinese tea cups). When served, the cup is removed and the rice cake is topped with grated coconut flesh.
  • Keria, sweet potato doughnuts. They resemble just like the regular ones except that they are made with sweet potato. Each doughnut is rolled in caster sugar. This is usually eaten in Malaysia during breakfast or in the morning tea hours of the day, along with other cakes such as apam or the more savoury pratha.
  • Ku, a small round or oval-shaped with soft, sticky glutinous rice flour skin wrapped around a sweet filling in the centre.
  • Lapis sagu or sembilan lapis, a steamed multicoloured and multilayered firm kuih made from tapioca flour, coconut milk, and flavoured with pandan. The layers are separately steamed.
  • Lapis sarawak, a layered cake served in Sarawak on special occasions. Its origin in a form of layer cake with various spices found in Indonesia called lapis legit.
  • Makmur, a traditional cake made from butter, ghee and flour. Served during special occasion of Eid al-Fitr and identified with its white colour and usually in a round shape.
  • Pai ti, a thin and crispy pastry tart shell filled with a spicy, sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns.
  • Pinjaram, a saucer-shaped deep fried fritter with crisp edges and a dense, chewy texture towards the centre.
  • Pisang goreng, battered fried bananas.
  • Pulut inti, glutinous rice topped with caramelised grated coconut flesh and wrapped in a cut banana leaf to resemble a square pyramid.
  • Pulut tartal, glutinous rice served with white coconut milk sauce.
  • Pulut tekan, just a plain glutinous rice cake. It is served with kaya (jam from pandan leaves) coconut jam. The glutinous rice cakes are coloured with bunga telang. Half-cooked glutinous rice is divided into two portions. Both are them added with coconut milk but one of them is added with the bunga telang juice. This gives the rice cake a very bright blueish-indigo colour which is appealing to children. The half-cooked glutinous rice is then scooped in alternating fashion into the original tray to give it a marble effect of blue and white. The rice is then cooked some more and when it is cooked and cooled, it is cut into tall rectangles.
  • Seri muka, a two-layered dessert with steamed glutinous rice forming the bottom half and a green custard layer made with pandan juice (hence the green colour). Coconut milk is a key ingredient in making this kuih. It is used as a substitute for water when cooking the glutinous rice and making the custard layer.
  • Talam (lit. tray cake), a kuih consisting of two layers. The top white layer is made from rice flour and coconut milk, while the bottom green layer is made from green pea flour and extract of pandan leaf.
  • Wajik, a compressed Malay confection made of glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar.


File:Local tea shop.jpg

Teh tarik

  • Air janda pulang, a traditional drink of Negeri Sembilan. It is suitable to drink with lunch and during hot days.[39]
  • Ais kacang, a dessert drink made of only shaved ice and red beans.
  • Ais krim potong, an ice cream popsicle made from coconut milk or milk, flavoured with localised ingredients like red beans, rose syrup, durian, pandan, creamed corn and jackfruit.
  • Boeber, Cape Malay sweet, milk drink, made with vermicelli, sago, sugar, and flavoured with cardamom, stick cinnamon and rose water
  • Cendol, an iced sweet dessert that contains droplets of green rice flour jelly,[40] coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.[41]
  • Dadiah, a dairy-based dessert made from milk, sugar and salt which has been acidified with whey (obtained by fermenting milk overnight with asam gelugur) and steamed to form a custard like texture, it clearly shows Minangkabau cuisine influences.
  • Faluda, a cold drink made by mixing rose syrup, vermicelli, and sweet basil seeds with milk, often served with ice cream.[42]
  • Kopi tarik, a coffee drink made of dark roasted with margarine and sugar, which is sweetened with condensed milk and pulled to froth it up.
  • Laksamana mengamuk, a traditional drink from Riau that made from mango mixed with coconut milk and sugar.
  • Milo dinosaur, a beverage that composed of a cup of iced Milo with undissolved Milo powder added on top of it.
  • Sirap bandung, a drink made up of evaporated milk or condensed milk flavoured with rose syrup (rose cordial), giving it a pink colour. The drink is an adaptation of rose milk served in India.[43]
  • Teh krisan, a Chrysanthemum tea.
  • Teh tarik, a popular hot milk tea beverage most commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is made from a strong brew of black tea blended with condensed milk.

See also[]

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  • Kue
  • Acehnese cuisine
  • Betawi cuisine
  • Indonesian Arab cuisine
  • Indonesian Chinese cuisine
  • Indonesian Indian cuisine
  • Javanese cuisine
  • Malaysian Chinese cuisine
  • Malaysian Indian cuisine
  • Minangkabau cuisine
  • Palembangese cuisine
  • Peranakan cuisine

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  43. Naleeza Ebrahim, Yaw Yan Yee, Singapore. Not just a good food guide (Ed. rev. et augm.) 2007, p.253-4

External links[]

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