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Malay Cuisine

Malay Cuisine

Heavily influenced by Indian and Thai cuisine, many Malay dishes are characterised by the heavy use of spices and coconut milk (“santan” in the Malay language). Curry and spicy dishes hence feature very prominently in Malay cuisine, although the desserts tend to be rather sweet. 

Rendang

Occasionally dubbed 'dry curry', it is meat stewed for hours on end in a spicy curry paste until almost all the water is absorbed. Beef rendang is the most common, followed by chicken rendang and mutton rendang.

Satay

A kind of barbecued skewered meat, typically chicken, mutton or beef. What separates satay from your ordinary kebab is the slightly spicy peanut-based dipping sauce, which you will find only in Malaysia.

Kuih

This refers to a plethora of steamed cake-like pudding, mostly made with coconut milk, grated coconut flesh, glutinous rice or tapioca. They are often very colourful and cut into fanciful shapes. There are a large variety of kuih (or kueh).

Nasi Lemak

The definitive Malay breakfast, consisting of rice cooked in light coconut milk or coconut cream, some ikan bilis (anchovies), peanuts, cucumber, sambal sauce and perhaps fried fish or chicken. Its availability at practically every street corner across Malaysia has made Nasi Lemak the `de facto’ Malaysian dish, loved by all Malaysians, and many visitors from abroad. 

Durian

A local fruit with a sharp thorny husk that has a distinctively pungent taste and odour you can smell a mile away. The rich creamy yellow flesh of this 'king of fruits' is also made into ice cream, cakes, sweets and other decadent desserts. Note: Due to their pungent smell, you're not allowed to carry durians on public transportations and they're also banned from many hotels.

Ais Kacang

It is the Malay word for 'ice bean' and is also known as ABC - Air Batu Campur (`mixed ice’). A bowl is filled with shaved ice then topped with sweet red beans, gula Melaka (palm sugar), grass jelly, sweet corn and attap palm seeds. The whole thing is then drizzled with canned condensed milk or coconut cream and coloured syrups. The end result is both sweet and refreshing.

Chendol

A sweet dessert made with green pea noodles, kidney beans, palm sugar and coconut milk.

Sambal

The generic term for chili sauces; often mixed with another ingredient. Variants include sambal belacan (shrimp paste), sambal sotong (squid) and sambal ikan bilis (anchovy).