By Wendy Hutton, Luca Invernizzi Tettoni
Drawing on their multi-ethnic history, Malaysians have built specified diversifications on Asian favorites like Malay satay, chinese language fried noodles, and Indian curry puff.
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Extra resources for Authentic recipes from Malaysia
With so many good things to eat, who can possibly limit themselves to just three meals a day? Spicy Indian soul mates Visitors to Malaysia, noting the many Indian Muslim food stalls, Indian 'banana leaf' restaurants and the universal popularity of the pancake-like Indian bread, Roti Canai, might be surprised to learn that the Indian community makes up only about 10 percent of the nation's population. Indian cuisines—especially those from the south, where most of Malaysia's Indians originated—share some similarities with Malay cuisine in their generous use of spices and coconut, so it took little encouragement for Indian food to catch on.
So, too, does Penang. A tangy and fragrant sourness is often added by the use of tamarind, sour carambola and limes, while fiery hot chillies so often present in Thai food are also popular in the northern Malaysian states. Fresh herbs are frequently used to give a special touch to northern dishes. In addition to the herbs commonly used throughout Malaysia—lemongrass, pandanus leaf, the fragrant leaf of the kaffir lime and the pungent polygonum or daun kesum—northern chefs include a type of basil that is very popular in Thailand known as daun kemanggi, leaves of a number of rhizomes, such as turmeric and zedoary (known locally as cekur or kencur), and the wonderfully fragrant wild ginger bud.
These pioneering Chinese traders, many of whom became wealthy men, took Malay wives, although as time went on, children of these early mixed marriages generally married pure Chinese or the children of other Straits Chinese, thus greatly diluting any Malay blood they may have had. The women, known as nonyas, and the men, babas, generally spoke a mixture of Malay and Chinese dialect, dressed in modified Malay style, and combined the best of both cuisines in the kitchen. Typical Chinese ingredients (such as tofu, soy sauce, preserved soybeans, black prawn paste, sesame seeds, dried mushrooms and dried lily buds) blended beautifully with Malay herbs, spices and fragrant roots.
Authentic recipes from Malaysia by Wendy Hutton, Luca Invernizzi Tettoni