14 Essential Malaysian Dishes You Need to Try Slideshow

If you don’t already know about the joys of Malaysian cuisine, you’re missing out
Tepung Pelita

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Tepung pelita is a Malaysian rice dessert.

14 Essential Malaysian Dishes You Need to Try

14 Essential Malaysian Dishes You Need to Try

Shutterstock

The country’s cuisine is just as unique as its sights. From murtabak, or pan-fried bread stuffed with minced meat and onions, to tepung pelita, or a rice flour dessert steamed inside a banana leaf, Malaysia is filled with dishes made with spices like coriander and turmeric or cooked in ingredients like coconut milk. Take a journey through 14 of the country’s most iconic dishes with us.

Apam Balik

Apam Balik

Photo Modified: Flickr / Yun Huang Yong / CC BY 4.0

This Malaysian pancake turnover is a popular street food and is usually filled with peanuts, corn, and sugar. The treat has both thick and thin versions and has a soft center with crispy edges.

Ayam Goreng

Ayam Goreng

Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / Midori / CC BY-SA 3.0

The name of this dish translates to “fried chicken” in English, and though recipes vary, they always call for chicken deep-fried in coconut oil with an array of spices. It’s sometimes served alongside nasi lemak, and spices include turmeric, cumin, and coriander.

Bubur (Congee)

Congee is the equivalent of chicken noodle soup in Asia — a dish meant to heal whatever malady may ail you. The simple rice porridge can be made in a variety of different ways, with optional garnishes like garlic, shallots, and green onions.

Laksam

Laksam

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This style of spicy noodle soup is a dish characteristic of northeastern Malaysia and areas like Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu. It usually includes spices like lemongrass, garlic, and coriander and is made with thick rice flour noodles in gravy made from boiled fish and coconut milk.

Mee Goreng

This Indian-inspired dish is popular all over Malaysia, and varying recipes for these spicy fried noodles abound. Potatoes, tomatoes, shrimp, scallions, garlic, eggs, and soy sauce are all optional ingredients. 

Mee Rebus

Popular in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, this dish consists of yellow noodles with spicy potato-based gravy and often topped with fried shallots, spring onions, lime juice, or a hard-boiled egg. It can also be served alongside fritters.

Murtabak

Murtabak

Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / Yosri / CC BY-SA 3.0

This Malaysian meal consists of pan-fried bread stuffed with onions and minced meat. It’s also sometimes made with egg and serrano and can be served with a side of curry gravy.

Nasi Kandar

Nasi Kandar

Photo Modified: Flickr / LWYang / CC BY 4.0

This northern Malaysian dish is said to come from Penang and consists of steamed rice served with curries and other dishes. Nasi kandar is often paired with things like chicken, beef, lamb, fried prawns, or fried squid, and it’s often served with a vegetable dish.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

Photo Modified: Flickr / Em / CC BY 4.0

This dish is considered by many to be the national dish of Malaysia and consists of rice cooked in coconut milk, dried anchovies, and pandan leaves, which are often used in Malaysian desserts and rice dishes due to their fragrancy.

Rendang daging or ayam (beef or chicken)

Rendang daging or ayam (beef or chicken)

Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / Midori / CC BY 3.0

Whether you choose beef or chicken, they’re cooked the same way – slowly simmered as spices like ginger, turmeric, and coriander flavor the meat. Pair the flavorful rendang with some rice for best results.

Roti Canai

Roti Canai

Photo Modified: Flickr / Yung Huang Yong / CC BY 4.0

This flatbread often sold in Malaysian Mamak stalls has an Indian influence and has a simple recipe consisting of only flour, salt, water, and cooking oil. It’s a popular breakfast choice and is often served alongside curry.

Sambal

This sauce is a popular condiment in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and it’s usually made with chiles, spices, and herbs. The taste is described as “all at once earthy, spicy, and hot.”

Satay

This Malaysian favorite can be made with different meats. Chicken satay, for example, is skewered chicken served with rice cake and peanut sauce. It’s a popular street food, as well as a menu item often offered at high-end eateries. 

Tepung Pelita

Tepung Pelita

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This Malaysian rice flour dessert is creamy and sweet and usually steamed inside a banana leaf. Other ingredients include pandan leaves, coconut milk, and salt to taste.