Who doesn't love food? Personally, my favorite types of food typically come from Asia. Where I grew up, food was basically life. All our celebrations and cultural festivals were only as good as the food served! Seriously, I feel like every Malaysian is also a foodie. And why not? Malaysia has a unique cuisine that has been influenced by a huge variety of countries, i.e. India, China, and Thailand. Malaysian food is like a kaleidoscope, something that can't be replicated elsewhere. So here's a list of some of my personal favorites!
*If you click on the photographs, they should take you to some recipes!
1. Roti Canai
This is my all-time favorite! This is something that is very much Indian-inspired. It's usually sold at mamak shops (these are places that sell mamak food, which is a mix of Indian and Malay foods). If you like buttered rolls, forget them! Chuck 'em outta window! Once you have one of these babies, there's no going back.
We usually have them with some curry, but we also have some crazy recipes. There's sardines, tuna, cheese, mutton, even mi goreng! It is possibly Malaysia's favorite breakfast food, yup breakfast. But, let's be honest, we eat it all day! Oops!
2. Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak, or 'fat rice' in its literal translation, is our national dish. It's traditionally quite simple: Some coconut and pandan infused rice, sambal, egg, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, and cucumber. However, it's simplicity is made up for by its amazing array of flavors. It's spicy, and a little sweet, with the saltiness that sneaks through via the anchovies. Every bite is just explosive with flavor!
3. Wantan (Wanton) Mee
Now, Wantan Mee is a dish that is very Chinese-inspired. Personally, in my mother's hometown, I have a hookup with the Wantan Mee lady. So every morning when I am in Kedah, I usually haul ass in the morning just so I can get a piece of this action, and I never have to pay! The Wanton itself is simple, just some basic dumplings. But the flavor is in the noodles and siew bak. The meat is amazingly marinated and barbequed to perfection! While the noodles are tossed in a sauce - it is not too salty, and not too sweet.
4. Roti Jala
Roti Jala is like one of our versions of crepes (trust me we have others), they differ from crepes as they are usually very light and tender, not crispy. It is usually served during Hari Raya, but I usually eat it all year round. As the roti itself does not have a very strong taste, it is dipped in curry or rendang (a particular curry that is very popular in Malaysia).
5. Char Kway Teow
Char Kway Teow is perhaps one of my most cherished and memorable dishes. So this dish is most popular in Penang (it is pretty bad anywhere else in the country), where my father grew up. So, every time I visit home, I will get a piping hot plate of Char Kway Teow almost immediately at the nearest hawker store! It is mostly a breakfast dish, but people have been selling them later due to the intense demand!
P.s. Those who think these look like "Pad Se Ew", you are so wrong!
6. Fish Head Curry
This might terrify most other people, i.e. Americans who cannot stand bones in their fish, but to us, this is a common and delicious treat. Fish head curry, while cooked in many styles, is perhaps most popular in the Indian style with Indian spices. Yes, I know it's a head, but fish heads do have tons of meat, and you shouldn't waste it! This dish is often jam-packed with spices and vegetables, making it a wholesome meal for the end of the day. When my mother is tired at the end of the day, we often order in some Fish Head Curry and rice for some good ole' comfort.
7. Jiu Hu Char
This is a stir-fried dish comprising of cuttlefish, carrots, dried shitake mushrooms, and jicama. Jiu Hu Char originates from the Nonya community in Malaysia. This dish is most commonly served during Qing Ming (a Chinese tradition where families clean the graves of their ancestors).
There are way way way more dishes in Malaysia that should be on this list, and maybe I will write another article about food in Malaysia again. But until then, SELAMAT TINGGAL!