Free Recipes from Malaysia for Cooking Malaysian Food

Free Asian Recipes from Malaysia for Cooking Malaysian Food

Malaysian Recipes, Malay recipe, Malaysian Food, Malaysian Cooking - delicious recipes from Malaysia handed down from my mother's secret recipe stash & friends.

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This page contains smaples of famous wide-ranging assortment of recipes of multi-cultural Malaysia. Here you will find recipes originating from Nyonya and Mamak specialities. As Malaysia is filled with different cultures, it does not come as a surprise to find many delightful dishes ranging from Malay to Chinese to Indian cuisine.

Nyonya Food is peculiar to only the Chinese of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. Now I love Nyonya food, having grown up with this cooking. My mother learnt from her mother and I am proud to say that I've learnt quite a lot from these remarkable women. I must say, it does take a lot of getting used to the cooking methods. My mother would be famous is saying 'you just have to guess and get a feel for it'. Luckily, I watched her and measured whatever she put into her cooking so I am now proud to include the measurements in this website. Be aware, though, I may not be exact so you may have to adjust your measurement. Examples of Nynonya style food include; Cendol, Penang Laksa, pie tie, kuih ketayap and kuih lapis.

Malay Food typically uses a lot of coconut milk, chillies and belacan. With coconut milk and cream, you would need to be careful because they contain a lot of calories and is high in cholesterol. To avoid this problem, use coconut milk instead of cream. Nothing is complete without the addition of chillies to the Malay cuisine and I love all types of chillies. Be sure to de-seed and remove the membranes from the chillies (wear gloves!) if you do not wish your food to be extra spicy. Note that dried chillies are actually more potent than fresh ones (except bird-eye chillies). Shrimp belachan is wonderful (see description below in glossary) but the smell can penetrate the house so be sure to open all your windows when you do dry-roast them. Grind them up aftewards then store in an air-tight container and keep in the refrigerator. Examples of Malayan dishes include; nasi lemak, chicken satay, ketupat, beef rendang, Spicy Belchan Prawns and many more.

In the northern states of Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Kelantan, you would find the flavors Thailand in the cuisine. There is a hint of fragrant sourness that is often associated with the use of tarmarind, sour carambola and limes as well as hotness of chillies (Thai) that is so popular in northern Malaysian cuisine. Another popular dish is the Nasi Ulam or Kerambu which is a rice dish that is cooked with pandan, galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and a mixture of other herbs and spices.

Chinese Food in Malaysia differs slightly than what you would normally find in a typical Chinese restaurant. In Malaysia, the Chinese cuisine shares many similar cooking method with that of Singapore so it is not unusual to find many dishes that are a blend of both. However, the Chinese dishes of Malaysia is different from that of China or Hong Kong because they are influenced from Malaysia's neighbor to the north, Thailand as well as Malaysian and Indian cuisine. Examples include; ham choy soup, char koay teow, steam fish, black pepper crabs and many more.

The Chinese also place a great importance on the contrast of lively colors, flavors and texture in their cuisine. There are Cantonese, Sichuan, Hokkien, Teochew, Hockchew, Foochow, Hakka, Hainanese and Hunghua influences in Chinese cooking. When travelling to Malaysia, it is often noted that the Chinese people always seem to bea eating. That is because food plays an important role in the Chinese family where meal time is seen as a gathering of family and the renewal of family ties.

Indian Food in Malaysia has a unique and wonderful flavor altogether. It is a blend of southern and northern Indian cuisine with influences from Malay and Chinese cooking alike. I love the Indian curry with its thick coconut flavor and the spiciness of chillies that come with it. Our housekeeper was a wonderful Indian cook who would always make us curry every week and even snuck in a couple of desserts every so often. Examples of Indian food include; lamb curry, mutton kurma, dhal or lentil dish, roti canai and so much more.

If you were to go into an Indian restaurant, you might find yourself at a table where the plate is a banana leaf. Indian cuisine, especially from the south where most of Malaysian Indians originate, share some similarities with Malay cooking. Because they share a lot in common, you would not find pork in most Indian restaurant. Apart from Roti Canai, you can also find great Indian dishes like Indian Mee Goreng, Mee Siam and Mutarbak which is a type of pancake that is filled with onion and minced chicken or mutton.

I hope you will enjoy making Malaysian cooking as much as I do. The recipes below are mere guidelines so feel free to experiment and adjust to your own palate and taste.

To learn more about Malaysia, visit the Tourism Malaysia Website.

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Let's Talk About Spices and Herbs in Malaysian Cooking

Agar Agar
This is a type of gelatine that is made from seaweed and can set without refrigeration. Available in strand which must be soaked in water for 1/2 hour before use or powder. If using powder, pre-soaking is not necessary. Ordinary gelatine should not be used as a subsitute.

Asafoetida A gum derived from a Persian plant that is used in tiny amounts in Indian cooking to give it flavor. Available in small rectangular blocks from Indian spice shops. Also known as hing in India and perankayam in Tamil.

Asam Gelugur
Malay name for the sweet and sour garcinia fruit. This fruit resembles a dried apple. It is usually sliced and used in place of tarmarind pulp in some Malay or Nonya dishes.

Asam Keping (Tamarind)
Tamarind Thinly sliced and dried until shirvelled and brownish black. Widely grown in tropical & sub-tropical climate. Tamarind fruit and leaves have reported to have medicinal qualities.

Bananas In most savory dishes, non-sweet bananas similar to plantains are sued (e.g. pisang kepok, pisang kari, pisang nipah). Be sure not to subsitute with sweet dessert bananas. Banana leaf is frequently used to wrap cakes and fish. Foil can be subsituted in most cases but you will miss out on the flavor.

Banana Buds
Are unopened flowers of the banana plant. They taste a bit like artichokes and are quite popular as part of a salad dish. To prepare the buds for eating, remove the coarse outer petals of the bud then quarter the heart and slice lengthwise. If you choose not to use immediately, soak the slices in cold water and sprinkle lime juice.

Fragrant long-grain rice usually from Pakistan. It has a delicious nutty flavor. Sometimes sold as Patna Rice.

Balacan (Belachan/Blacan)
Belacan Common use in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia as flavouring for vegetables. Indispensable dish in Nyonya cuisine. Made from red chillie, roasted balacan and kalamansi. If using this, it is better to roast it in a toaster oven or in a pan before adding unless used as part of a paste otherwise flavor will be bitter. Be aware than when you are doing this, will emit a smell so open all windows and use a well-ventilated area.

Biji Sawi (Mustard Seeds)
Mustard Seeds Mixed with various herbs and powder will produce varying flavours, mixed with water will produce a hotter and sharper flavour. Mixing with vinegar gets you milder effect. Prevent biji sawi from deteriorating by cooking it in hot oil until it turns crisps.

Buah Pelaga (Cardamon)
Cardamon Native to India and Southeast Asia, the fruit is a small capsule with 8 to 16 brown seeds; the seeds are used as a spice. Available at most Indian grocery stores. Store in a cool, dry place, away from any moisture.

Buah Keras (Candlenut)
Candlenuts Fruits of the Candlenut, Candle-berry, or Varnish tree from India, Phillipine and Pacific Islands. Copntains large amount of of oil, will become rancid if kept too long. Toxin found in nuts unsuitable for eating raw but vanishes during cooking. Subsitute: macadamia or cashew nuts

Chillies The hottest variety is known as birds-eye chilli or chilli padi (birds eye chillies) and are about 2 cm long. Chill-tairu are green chillies preserved in salted yogurt, store in tins and usually deep-fry in hot oil for a few seconds before use.

Chinese Plum Sauce
This is a reddish to brown condiment that is made from salted plums, vinegar, sugar and a dash of chillies. You can usually get them in jars or cans in supermarkets. Used for dipping sauce with spring rolls.

Cloves Myrtle family. Very strong, aromatic and intense flavour. Use sparingly. Medicinal properties: warm spleen and stomach. Used in many Asian dishes from curry to flavoring tea.

Coriander Seeds
Present in almost most blends of curry spices. Of the parsley family. Most come from Morocco, India and Romania. Store in cool, dark place. When planted in good soil and full sunlight, you can actually grow coriander plants.

Cumin Seeds (Jintan Putih)
Are pale to brown to black seeds in color and are ridged on the outside. They impart an wonderful earthly flavor and are used whole, roasted or ground into fine powder. Cumin seeds are usually partnered with coriander seeds in basic Malaysian spice mixture and are often dry-roasted in oil to enhance their flavor.

Daun Limou Purut (Kaffir Lime Leaves)
Kaffir Leaves Wonderful fragrant leaf from a variety of citrus. Any young citrus leaves can be subsituted though their flavor is nowhere near as lovely and fragrant. Can be bought fresh then freeze in freezer and taken out as needed.

Daun Kari (Curry Leave)
Curry Leaves Used abundantly by South Indian cooks, curry leaves (karuvapillai in Tamil) must not be confused with Indonesian daun salam, a type of bay leaf. Curry leaves are about 1 inch long, dark green in color and have a pungent smell. Dried leaves can be used if fresh ones are not available.

Gula Melaka
Palm Sugar Also known as palm sugar. It is a hard brown sugar block made from the sap of the aren palm. If not available, subsitute with soft brown sugar with a touch of maple syrup.

Glutinous Rice
A variety of rice which becomes very sticky when cooked, used mostly for cakes and known as pulot. Avaible in most Chinese grocery stores.

Chinese Egg Plant The Malay name for this vegetable is terong and the Indian name is brinjal. The Asian varities are much smaler than European eggplant or aubergine. Another variety is the longer Asian eggplant also known as Chinese Egg Plant.

Hokkien Noodles
Hokkien Noodles Also known as stir-fry noodles, these are fresh egg noodles that resemble thick yellow brown spaghetti that does not need to be pre-cook before use.

Ikan Bilis (Dried Anchovies)
Ikan Bilis Range in sizes from very tiny varities (known as silver fish) to the larger variety often about 2 cm long. If using large, you must discard the heads and intestine otherwise it will leave a bitter flavor. Fish have to be salted before dried. Before using ikan bilis, you should wash them under cold water then put them out to dry otherwise it will leave a salty residue on your tongue.

Jintan Manis (Fennel)
Of parsley family. Mainly comes from Egypt and India. Sweet, mild flavour - used in most cooking (usually with fish) but also for medicinal purposes. (diuretic & breast feeding).

White lime used as part of a betel quid.

Kayu Manis (Cinnamon)
Cinnamon Sticks Cinnamon sticks are made from long pieces of bark that are rolled, pressed, and dried. Most common in dried powder form. Storage: Cool, dry and dark places. Do not boil dry form - will loose flavour. Can be bought in bark pieces as well.

Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce)
Also known as ketijap manis with origins from Indonesia. This sweet, thick soy sauce has sugar (hence the name) and spices added. Usually used in stir-fries.

Kim Chiam (Dried Lily Buds)
Sometimes called Golden Needles and are slender golden-brown strips.

Kunyit Powder (Turmeric Powder)
Indian name: (Haldi) also known as 'Indian Saffron'. Used mostly in Indian dishes for coloring. Do not add too much or it will overwhelm most flavours. Buy only in dry prepared form.

Laksa Paste
Is a ready-made curry paste which contains a combination of spices, dried shrimp and peanuts. It is cooked with coconut milk and seafood or chicken to make Malaysian laksa.

Lengkuas (Galangal Ginger)
Galangal Available in many forms: fresh, dried, frozen, powdered (small quantities only). Ginger may be subsituted but recipe may loose some flavours. Indonesian name is laos. If using in peices, remove from dish before serving.

Limes 2 types of limes: large green lime (shaped like lmeon) and small round lime which is known as limau kesturi. The small lime has more fragrance. Subsitute with half-ripe kumquats if possible, otherwise use lemon juice.

Mint Leaves
Usually sold as fresh sprigs or dried then minced. If you choose to buy fresh, store the mint leaves in the refrigerator, wrap them in paper towels then sealed in a plastic bag. Bottles of dried mint leaves should be stored away from light, heat and moisture. Just before use, crush the dried leaves in your hand to release the flavor.

A minute spice resembling parsley seed and is used to flavor dishes like murruku and other Indian dishes. Botanical name is carom. Indians call it ajwain. No subsitute.

Pandan Leaves
Pandan Plant Very versatile, common in many Malaysian cooking. Used for coloring and flavouring (slightly nutty) of desserts and cakes. From the screwpine family. Easily grown in a tropical garden.

Serai (Lemon Grass)
Lemongrass Lemon scented herb. The whitish stem can be used for seasoning. Mashing or chopping up this herb before cooking will spread the flavour.

Rempah Tumis Ikan (Fish Curry Spices)
A mixture of whole spices including brown mustard seed, funugreek, cumin, fennel and husked blackgram dhal (biji sawi, alba, jintan puteh, jintan manis, urad dhal) If you cannot obtain this ready-mixed mixture, mix your own using 1 tsp of each spice except for fenugreek (1/2 tsp).

Rice Flour
Made from ground uncooked rice grains. Used to make doughs and batters for many Malaysian desserts. Fresh rice flour was traditionally made by soaking the rice overnigh then slowly grinding in a stone mill. The same result may be achieved by using a blender instead. Sold in packages.

Rose Water
Rose Water Essence A wonderful evocative flavor with Arabian origin. Used in some Indian and Malay dishes. If you are using the concentrated rose essence, be sure to use less the amount required than rose water which is diluted.

Salted Soya Beans
Soft brown salty beans in a thick paste called taucheo. In North America, sold in bottles as "Black Bean Sauce".

Sago Pearls
Dried beads of sago starch obtained by grinding the pith of the sago palm tree to a paste then pressing it through a sieve. Pearls are glutinous with little taste, often used in Asian desserts. May be rinsed in water and drained to remove excess starch before use. Sold in various sizes and colors, in plastic packets.

Sambal Olek
Or ulek or olek. Is Indonesian in origin. This is a salty paste made from ground chillies.

Or dark fine cumin. Generally used in Northern Indian cuisine. It is roasted, ground and used sparingly.

Small mackerels that are usually packed in tomato sauce, brine or olive oil. Much longer than and different flavor from the European sardines. If you are not using sardines from a Malaysian or Singaporean brand, buy mackerel, snoek or herring in tomato sauce instead.

Shallots Malay name is bawang merah meaning 'red onion' for these pinkish-purple marble sized onions. Taste slightly 'sweeter' than the bigger variety. If not available, use the purple Bombay onions or the brown skinned onions.

Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce 2 types: light thin soy sauce and thick dark soya sauce. Dark and light soy sauce are used for seasoning. The light sauce is generally saltier than the dark and is used in stir-fries and with light meats. The dark soy sauce adds a rich flavor and color to braised and red meat dishes and is generally thicker in texture.

Spring onions
Spring Onions Slender green stalks with a white base. Not to be confused with shallots which are small round pink onions. Use as part of a dish or as garnish, spring onions are the mainstay in Malaysian cuisine.

Is not actually tofu but made from femented soy beans which become solid. It can be sliced or cut into cubes and steamed, baked or fried. You can also use it as part of a dip.

Tofu (Bean Curd)
Tofu Soya bean is one of the most versatile products in Asia. Made from soya bean and is available in several forms. Firm tofu is known as taukwa, soft tofu is tahu and dried bean curd skins is fu chook in sticks or tin chook in sheets.

Wild Ginger Buds (Bunga Kantan)
Are the pink buds of wild ginger plants, also known as Torch Ginger. Highly aromatic and lend a subtle but distinct fragrance to Malay and Nonya dishes.

Yam Beans
Yam Beans Also known as jicama is a cunchy white vegetable. Known as bangkwang in Malay. Has a flavor that is a crossed between apple and potato. If none is available or out of season, you can usually subsitute with canned water chestnuts.

Ginger Young Ginger
Comparing to other spices, the taste and smell of young ginger is weaker. It is crisp and with no dregs. When peeling ginger, use the back of a spoon. You can also keep ginger root frozen in your freezer - this will allow you to grate the ginger easier and faster.

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