Have you eaten yet?

Dah Makan ?

You eat already ah?

吃料嗎?

Malaysians tend to greet people differently. Instead of saying “Hi,” we will ask “have you eaten yet?” It is common to see this phrase as a conversation starter in Malaysia.

Malaysia has a rich food culture, with the presence of different cuisines represent in the country’s various ethnicities, including Malay, Indian and Chinese. The country is divided into 16 territories with cultural distinction for each of them. Each region has own traditions and cuisine as a result of immigration and colonization. When all the tastes from different cultures combine together, this is what makes Malaysian food unique. 

  1. One of everyone’s favorite is Nasi Lemak
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Picture of the food “Nasi Lemak”  

Nasi Lemak is the Malay name of the above dish. Nasi means rice, and Lemak means fat which refers to coconut milk. The name of the rice comes from its cooking process, in which rice is soaked in thick coconut milk and then steamed. Sometimes, knotted pandan leaves are added to the rice during cooking to increase its aroma. If necessary, other spices such as turmeric and lemongrass can also be added to give additional flavor. Traditionally, a plate of nasi lemak has cucumber slices, baby anchovies, roasted peanuts, fully cooked eggs, Indian pickles, and hot sauce (Sambal in Malay). nasi lemak can also contain other condiments, such as chicken, octopus or squid, bird mussels, beef curry (stew beef in a mixture of coconut milk and spices) or “Baro” (bull lung). Nasi lemak is traditionally used for breakfast, and it is sold at roadside stalls in Malaysia early in the morning. It is usually sold in newspapers, hemp paper, or banana leaves. However, some restaurants serve it on a plate for lunch or dinner. During my high school years, I had Nasi Lemak as my breakfast for nearly one year. It is so cheap yet a big portion with equal nutritions in it. It is very common to see that people sell Nasi Lemak at the roadside. 

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Photo: Nasi Lemak Anak Dara/ Facebook

2. Roti canai is a Malaysian version of a pancake.

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Photo of the food “Roti Canai”

 It is one of the most common foods and is sold everywhere at a reasonable price. It is served for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. It is often served with tea or iced tea. Roti canai is made by blending flour and using flying techniques to make it become softer and thinner. Due to the innovative spirit that Malaysians have, there are getting more types of roti canai that are created to cater to the taste of the general public.  These are the 10 different types of roti that you can easily find in a restaurant. (https://www.timeout.com/kuala-lumpur/food-and-drink/the-10-types-of-roti-youll-find-at-the-mamak)

3. One of my comfort foods when I am having a rough day is Laksa. 

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Photo of the food “Laksa”

The taste of spicy and sour can always take away my negative thoughts easily. The name of Laksa originally comes from the Hokkien (Chinese dialect) “lua sua”, meaning “spicy sand”, which refers to the taste and texture of ground dried prawns. Asam laksa is a type of flavorful, tangy, and spicy Malaysian fish-based rice noodle soup. It is a representative food of Penang, Malaysia. It is also one of the state’s most popular dishes during tourism or food festivals. This dish garnered was also selected as the 7th place in the world ’s top 50 cuisines by CNNgo, a travel website owned by CNN in 2011.

The soup base of assam laksa is a slightly sour thick soup made with village fish or mackerel. During the cooking process, ginger flower, south ginger, lemongrass, shallots, Pepper, Daun Kesum, Belacan and Garcinia atroviridis, are added. “Assam” means “acid” in Malay, and it can also mean tamarind and asparagus fruit slices, which are the main source of the sour taste of Assam. 

In order to make Assam Laksa, the first is to allow the soup base to boil out, and then remove the fish from the pot, remove its bones, head, and tail, tear the fish into pieces, and then put it into the soup to continue cooking. Next, toast the sesame powder and place it in a bowl. Add the pineapple, cucumber, onion, lettuce, ginger flower, pepper and other materials that have been cut into shreds or pieces, and then pour the soup base. Add about a tablespoon of shrimp paste and stir. The shrimp paste has a sweet taste. The more the shrimp paste is poured in, the sweeter it will be. Because different regions have different taste preferences, the acidity, spiciness, and sweetness of Assam Laksa are also different depending on the area.

4. Drinks

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Photo of the drink “Teh Tarik”

Unlike the US,  Malaysians do not really drink Starbucks coffee in the morning. Instead, we all drink Teh Tarik to refresh ourselves to start a busy day. Teh Tarik or Malaysian “pulled tea” is the most representative drink because it is consumed universally and unites all three cultures (Malay, Indian, and Chinese), it is like the national drink of Malaysia.

At coffee shops (kopitiam) or mamak stalls (open-air food markets) across Malaysia Basically, teh tarik is made with black tea, sugar, and condensed milk. When the tea is poured from one jug to another, the distance between the jugs becomes longer and longer so that the long stream of tea is being pulled in mid-air.  The taste of teh tarik is very similar to bubble milk tea, but it tastes much richer, smoother and thicker.

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Photo of how “Teh Tarik” is being made

All in all, I can confidently promise that Malaysia is a food heaven that you will never forget. There is no doubt that Malaysian food is the most representative of the culture, where all the tastes and spices from different cultures combine together into one dish  just like how we all live together in peace and harmony.

 

 

 

 

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