You can easily grab a mouthful of diverse flavours from the Chinese, Malay and Indian delicacies when living or travelling in a multi-racial country like Malaysia. Many dishes were originated from the Peranakan heritage which dated back to the 15~17th century and recipes had been handed down generations after generations while time changes everything including taste buds….
Below is a list of local delicacies that travellers might not know if they are not local.
Foreigners might find this dish gross and smelly. But, this is the local's favorite delicacy of all time. Originated from the Peranakan heritage, and enjoyed by all Malaysians.
The broth mainly made of fish, with some asam keping added in to make it sourish. Of course it may smell rather fishy to certain people, but it smells great to those who love eating. Before taking a bite, remember to add a spoonful (or more) belacan sauce! It makes all the difference! Best when served steaming hot.
2. Roti Tisu
Often, foreigners find that Roti Tisu is an amazing delicacy due to its unique shape. Don’t let its size surprise you! Roti Tisu is an Indian dish made of dough continuously flipped until it becomes as huge as a human torso.
It might taste only like dough in sugar and butter, therefore, people usually have it dipped along with fish curry or Dal. You will taste the spiciness of the curry as well as the sweet buttery flavour altogether upon eating it. Enjoy it while it’s still warm for the crisp.
3. Assam Fish (Assam Pedas)
Assam Fish is another one of Malaysian’s favorite dish, and is also one of mine. The sauce should be spicy and sourish. Depending on the amount of chili paste that was added, too much chili takes away the sourness while too much Asam keping takes away the other taste that make up this dish.
This dish is usually cooked with Ikan Pari (Stingray), or Ikan Tenggiri (Mackerel), and okra (lady fingers) is added as a final touch to complete this mouthwatering dish.
4. Curry Fish Head
Curry fish head is yet another fish based delicacy, however, curry has a thicker texture compared to Assam Pedas (#3) sauce. It’s originally an Indian cuisine but Chinese and even Malays have mastered the recipe in the recent years.
Fish head is used for this delicacy due to its smooth and fatty flesh. Although you may choose to replace with other parts of the fish, but definitely the heads are the best part for this dish.
5. Bubur Cha Cha
Bubur Cha Cha was first introduced with Peranakan heritage as a type of dessert. The soup base is made of yam and coconut milk while the ingredients consist of banana, black eyed beans, sweet potatoes, red beans and last but not least, tapioca pearls. Most desserts are served cold, however, Bubur Cha Cha is best when served hot due to the congee (porridge) like texture. In my opinion, Bubur Cha Cha is rather filling to be called a dessert.
6. Nasi Briyani
Unlike the short grain rice that we eat every day, Nasi Briyani (aka Nasi Beriani or Nasi Minyak) is cooked using long grain rice. Usually served at Malay weddings, it’s boiled along with various kinds of spices such as cinnamon sticks, cardamom, fennel, cumin, and etc that eventually gives the rice a wonderful aroma.
Malay style Nasi Briyani is mainly accompanied by chicken or beef Rendang and acar, while Indian style is mostly served with curry or dal.
7. Sambal Petai
Sambal Petai (type of bean) is one of my strong recommendations among so many Malaysian foods. However, I believe not many foreigners will be willing to try this delicacy, even some locals refuse to eat this. Why? The bean stinks. Much stinkier than a bunch of durians. But if cooked along with sambal, the smell will be covered by the strong chili aroma and of course it is blended wonderfully with the taste of petai. Will you challenge this dish?
*P/S: It stinks so much that your poop and pee will smell too.
A traditional Malay food which could only be found during the month of fasting before the Hari Raya Puasa (aka New Year celebration). Only during the fasting month, one could find lemang almost anywhere around 6pm onward every day.
Lemang is a glutinous rice wrapped in a thin layer of banana leaf and carefully shoved into a bamboo stick. It kind of looks like making sushi rolls. Best eat with Rendang and kaya.
9. Curry Laksa
Also known as Laksa, but Curry Laksa is totally different from Asam Laksa. Some people may add a little Asam keping to give it a slightly sour taste in the soup base. Curry Laksa is basically a coconut milk based curry soup that serves with different kind of noodles and ingredients such as prawns, deep fried tofu, cockles, egg, brinjal (eggplant) and some bean sprouts.
I’m not sure if I should call this a dessert or fruit feast. It's made up from a mixture of various kinds of fresh fruits such as mango, sengkuang, cucumber, topped with peanuts and special spicy-sweet-stinky belacan sauce (shrimp sauce) and finished with a squeeze of lime juice.
If you’re sick of hot and spicy food, then you might want to try Rojak instead!
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Written by Elley
Born, fed and grew up in Malaysia and have a strong interest in Korean language & culture too. Love travelling and taking pictures that doesn't seems attractive to others and believe that determination brings success in the future.