Malaysian cuisine

Top local dishes

Malaysian cuisine

Malaysia is known for its diversified culture. Chinese, Malay, and Indian are just some of the many cultures that influence the cuisine. The amount of dishes that Malaysia has to offer is endless. Here is a list of 10 must-try Malaysian dishes that will satisfy your tastebuds.

Nasi lemak

This dish is typically served for breakfast. This dish can be prepared in a variety of ways but the basic preparation is comprised of rice and coconut cream together with sambal ikan bilis - dried anchovies in a spicy paste. Topping it off, a hard boiled egg, a cucumber, and some roasted peanuts are added. It can also be served with chicken, squid, or beef as additional options for the consumer.


This tasty dish is made with marinated meat on a skewer. Chicken, beef, mutton, pork, fish or tofu can be used for this dish. The marinated meat is cut up in little squares and placed on bamboo skewers which are then grilled or barbecued over a wood fire. They are served with various spicy sauces.

Nasi dagang

Nasi dagang means “trading rice” and is very similar to nasi lemak. It is a dish normally eaten for breakfast made with rice and coconut milk and is topped with fish curry, a hard boiled egg, shaved fried coconut and pickled vegetables.

Char kuey teow

A tasty stir fried dish that has greatly evolved over the years. Originally, it was a food prepared for labourers because of its cheap source of energy and nutrients. Since then, it has become a delicacy among Malaysians. It is prepared with flat rice noodles stir fried with soy sauce, bean sprouts, cockles, prawns, and chives together with egg slices, sausage, or fish cake. This dish has many variations in its preparation.

Hainanese chicken rice

This dish originated in China and has become an increasingly popular food in Malaysia as well as surrounding countries. It is prepared by cooking white rice with chicken stock and adding a combination of chili peppers, garlic, and soy sauce. It is then topped with steamed chicken and on the side, finely cut cucumbers, and tomatoes are added as well as a bowl of chicken soup and various dipping sauces.

Hae mee

The name hae mee means “prawn noodles”. This dish is made with egg noodles cooked in a shrimp stock with prawns, slices of pork, fish cake, and bean sprouts. It is later topped with fried shallots and spring onions to add flavor. There is also a variation where the soup is taken out and a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, oil, and chili may be added. Then it is topped with thinly sliced chilies and lime.

Bah kut teh

Bah kut teh is a Chinese herbal soup that is normally eaten in the morning. It is made by cooking pork in a broth mixed with herbs and spices. It is then complemented with a side of rice or noodles. It may also be served with youtiao which is a fried dough that is used for dipping in the soup.

Banana leaf rice

Traditionally eaten by hand, this dish is served on a banana leaf because it is believed that the leaf aids digestion. It is white rice and vegetables served with your choice of fried fish, curried chicken, or squid. A side of fish crackers and sambal, which is a chili based sauce, may also be added.

Nasi kandar

The name nasi kandar was derived from the early days when vendors, called “nasi hawkers”, would walk around balancing, or “kandering”, a pole with two huge buckets of rice attached to the ends. It was the Malaysians version of fast food. This dish is prepared using white rice as its base and adding your choice of fried chicken, curried spleen, cubed beef, fish, prawns, or squid. What defines this dish from the others is the addition of its specially made curry sauces.

Roti canai

Originally derived from India, roti canai is a form of flat bread that resembles a pancake. It is usually eaten for breakfast. It is prepared by rolling the dough out until it is completely flat and then folding the dough into the desired shape. Finally the dough is grilled and served with your choice of eggs, sardines, or bananas and topped with dhal - lentils, and curry.  

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