The food sector in Malaysia is as diverse as the cultures in the country with wide range of processed food with Asian taste. As the Malaysian food is heavily influenced by Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Thai cuisine, these influences extend from the use of the wok (a common bowl-shaped frying pan typically used in Asia for cooking, also commonly known locally as “kuali”) to the combinations of spices used in many of the local popular dishes.
The local Malay food is generally spicy, however, not all dishes are always necessarily chili-spicy per se, but there will always, at the least, be a chili-based sauce or paste called “sambal” on hand. Most of Malaysian food consist of traditional Southeast Asian herbs and spices meet Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern spices, leading to fragrant mixture of coriander and cumin with lemongrass, kaffir, lime leaves, cardamom, star anise and fenugreek.
As any other part in Asia, rice is an essential staple for the locals. A popular dish called “Nasi Lemak” which is considered as a local national dish, contains steamed rice with coconut milk served with ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peanuts, hardboiled eggs, sambal at side, accompanied with a choice of popular spicy meat stew (usually either chicken or beef) known as “rendang”. This dish is usually eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner by the locals. Noodles are another popular starch staple, such as the popular spicy noodle soup “laksa” of which there are two main types “curry laksa” (is a coconut curry soup with noodles) and “asam laksa” (is a sour fish soup with noodles). As are the Indian breads such as “roti canai”, “idli”, “puri” and “dhosa”, which are commonly eaten for breakfast.
Early Chinese settlers often wed local Malay brides and this gave rise to a generation of mixed Chinese-Malays known as “Peranakan”. The Malay word “nyonya”, is a term of respect for older women, has become synonymous with the distinctive Malaysian-Chinese cooking style of the Peranakans. Peranakan food is a blend of Malay and Chinese cuisine found in parts of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and southern Thailand. Chinese ingredients are mixed with local spices and cooking techniques to create intensely flavourful interpretations of Malay food. Lots of flavours are used in most Asian food, but Peranakan cuisine is one of the most robustly flavoured cuisine.
As food is vast diversity of the country’s culture, so are the local desserts. The desserts are wonderfully colourful and creative, including layered rice flour and coconut sweets, multi-layered butter cake known as “Lapis Legit”, and sweet coconut rice balls. A popular dessert is “Kueh Bahulu” (which are mini sponge cakes that locals favourable dipped it in black coffee or tea to consume it). Not forgetting “Ais Kacang” (also commonly known as “ABC” which is an acronym the locals use for “Ais Batu Campur”) is an ice shaved dessert topped with a lot of condiments such as red bean, corn, peanuts, ice cream and many more.