Malaysia is blessed with teeming seas with natural resources and fertile soils that are suitable for the cultivation of vegetables. Highland areas such as the Crocker Range and Cameron Highlands even produce temperate-climate vegetables. Freshwater fish is plentiful in its rivers and lakes, while the alluvial plains in the lowlands have been turned into orchards that produce luscious tropical fruits such as durians, mangosteens, pomelos, jackfruits, rambutans and other juicy delights. Combine these with the amazing array of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Straits cuisines, you have arrived at a veritable food paradise, where Asia's greatest cuisines meet.
Visitors to Malaysia will be able to enjoy a myriad of mouth-watering food and fruits when the Malaysian Food & Fruits Fiesta kicks off. What exactly is Malaysian food, you may ask? The answer is simple enough. Malaysia is the biggest melting pot of the world and here, a delicious mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Straits and other indigenous fare vie for your attention. The trick is not to compartmentalize it but to savor every lip-smacking morsel. And if there is one recognizable Malaysian food, it surely must be the cheap and easily available hawker fare.
Arguably the most popular Malaysian hawker food is satay. A Malay dish, satay consists of meat threaded through ribs of coconut fronds and grilled over a charcoal fire. Satay is served with sliced cucumbers and onions and a heavenly dip made from crushed peanuts and chili paste. Ketupat or rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves complement this dish.
Nasi Lemak is another Malaysian favorite that is enjoyed by all races, especially at breakfast. At its simplest, the dish consists of rice cooked in coconut cream and served with cucumber slices, a dollop of sambal (chili paste), a sprinkling of fried anchovies and peanuts and, a slice of boiled egg. However, there is no stopping you from piling on the condiments, which may range from chili squids, chicken curry, sauteed kangkung (water convolvulus) and curried cuttlefish.
For a quick meal that is filling, try
nasi goreng or
fried rice. What started as a clever way to recycle leftover rice is now a celebrated dish with numerous versions. Just about anything can be thrown into a wok and fried together with cooked rice. The result? A delicious meal that is easy to make and simply delightful.
The list of delectable Malay fare is almost endless:
Mee rebus (yellow noodles served with gravy),
laksa (rice noodles in fish gravy),
soto ayam (spicy chicken soup),
ikan panggang (grilled fish served with tamarind dip),
roti jala (lacy pancakes eaten with curry) and
(beef cubes in dry coconut milk gravy).
The Malays also have a wide variety of desserts to cool you down after a spicy meal. The most popular is ais kacang (shaved iced with red beans, rose syrup, creamed corn,
groundnuts and evaporated milk).
Bubur Cha Cha is a gruel of coconut milk and palm sugar with slices of yam, white beans and bananas, while cendol is a gruel of green sago strips in coconut milk.
For Chinese dishes, try
char kway teow(fried flat rice noodles stir-fried with cockles, prawns, egg, bean sprouts, chives and Chinese sausage).
Hainanese chicken rice(rice cooked with chicken stock and served with steamed chicken),
hokkien mee - prawn mee soup (rice vermicelli and prawns served in prawn stock),
bak kut teh (spare ribs soup) and
wantan mee (noodles with meat dumplings).
Fancy watching your food fly before it reaches your plate? Then order
roti canai. An Indian dish,
roti canai is a flaky bread that is eaten with curry. The theatrics of this
dish begins when the maker punches a ball of dough flat on his work surface. Then he swings it round and round in ever growing circles till the dough is thin and transparent. The airborne dough is then brought back to Earth and fried over a griddle. When cooked, the roti canai is flipped once again into the air and given one last bashing before it is served!
Other interesting Indian dishes to try are pasembut (salad comprising prawn fritters, fried bean curd, potatoes and peanut gravy),
tandoori chicken (chicken roasted in a clay oven), murtabak (pancake with filling of minced meat and
onions), banana leaf rice (rice served on banana leaf accompanied by an assortment of side dishes), and putu mayam (string hoppers).
The perfect finale to a Malaysian meal are the succulent local fruits. A native to Malaysia, the durian is popular with locals. Small wonder that it is dubbed as 'King of Fruits'. Green and covered with thorns, its shape ranges from round to oblong. Inside, you will find seeds covered with yellowish pulp that has an acrid aroma. You either love it or hate it! Many species are available but the D24 reigns supreme.
For an excellent thirst quencher, few drinks can beat the coconut. The shell contains a liquid that is sweet and refreshing. A hole is cut at the top of the shell to allow the liquid to be drunk through a straw. The tender flesh is then scooped out using a spoon.
Jackfruit is Malaysia's largest fruit. Each fruit averages between six to 15 kilogram's! Covered with hexagonal shaped indentations, it is packed with about 100 seeds in each fruit. The flesh of each seed is waxy, sweet and emits a pleasant smell.
Star fruit or carambola is unique as it is five-angled. A piece of this fruit cut across presents you with a pretty slice shaped like a star. Most clones are yellowish green when ripe. The honey star fruit is golden yellow when ripe and is extremely sweet.
The furry rambutan is a must-try as it too is indigenous to Malaysia. It is seasonal and fruits around June and September. The fruit glows in bunches and is green when young but turns red as it ripens. The white flesh beneath the hairy skin looks like a large longan.
Purple in color and called the 'Queen of Fruits' the mangosteen is as tasty as it is pretty. Each fruit is covered in a thick purplish rind and contains four to six white segments. These white segments taste sweet, with a slight sour aftertaste. Fruiting is from June to August and November to January.
Add to these the many other local fruits that come in wondrous shapes, tastes, aromas, colors and textures and you will be truly spoilt for choice. One word of caution through: Ditch the diet for you simply cannot resist the Malaysian Food and Fruits.
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