What makes a place attractive for a traveller like me could be the history, the architecture, the natural beauty of the place or the culture.

Food reveals the soul and history of nation and Malaysia’s rich history leaves an indelible mark on Malaysian cuisine. It was the center of the spice trade and the amalgamation of the trader’s influence into local cuisine is felt up to today.

The myriad of different ethnic groups that make up the population of Malaysia and our colonial past make Malaysia’s cuisine unique, with a kaleidoscopic interpretation of common dishes in different geographical locales in the country.

Here, we list the 5 must-try Malay food in Kuala Lumpur.

1. Malay Economy Rice

Similar in concept to the Chinese economy rice, the Malay economy rice stall (or service counters in food courts) offers rice and pre-cooked dishes using Malay recipes. The dishes are commonly cooked in generous amount of chilli and you can expect many more variations of curries; dry curries, in coconut milk, in kurma and so on.

Food are generally cooked with a lot of spices; either for flavor or for the spiciness.

Where to find this: Commonly found in hawker centres, street vendors or food courts and usually for mid-day meals.

Malay dishes – just pick & choose

2. Traditional kuih

There are similarities and dissimilarities between the Nyonya (Female Straits-Chinese descendants in Malaysia) and Malay made kuih. Still, the most common ingredients would be coconut cream, pandan (screwpine) leaves, grated coconut and gula melaka (palm sugar, fresh or aged) and the base largely made from a variety of flour (rice, glutinous rice, mung bean and tapioca flour).

Malay Kuih – Cakes, sweets, puffs and more

In general, Malay kuih tends to be sweeter and creamier. Some of the notable ones to try are kuih bakar, kuih keria, chendol talam, tapai pulut and cokodok.

Where to find this: Commonly found in hawker centres, street vendors or food courts and usually for tea break.

3. Sup Tulang/Ekor

“Sup Tulang” or “Beef Ribs/Oxtail Soup” is Malaysia’s aromatic soup boiled with beef bones and spices. Aromatic and brimming with a unique flavor of its own thanks to the myriad of herbs and spices used in the cooking process, it is definitely a unique Malaysian dish.

The colour is light in contrast to the western russet-coloured oxtail soups.

It can be slightly gelatinous; especially if bones with marrow are used as these contribute an oily, gelatine-like substance which is abundant in the leg bones. Lastly, this is served with a sprinkling of crispy fried shallot, coriander leaves and spring onion.

Where to find this: In Mamak (Muslim Indian) restaurants and some roadside stalls.

Sup Tulang / Sup Ekor (Malay Oxtail Soup)

4. Nasi Lemak

This iconic Malaysian dish is to many, a national dish of the country.

From its most basic variant of a single banana leaf wrapped pack with basic ingredients such as peanuts, fried anchovies, a wedge of hard boiled egg and spicy sambal (chili paste) to the elaborate add-ons of curry chicken, fried chicken drumstick, beef rendang, sambal cuttlefish and fried egg this much loved dish is a favourite of many dues to its mingling of flavors and textures (rich aromatic rice, hot and spicy chilly paste, crunchy anchovies and roasted peanuts) which makes it simply sheer ambrosia.

Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak Bungkus (pre-packed)

Where: The famous dish is sold in every part of Malaysia, be it in a fancy restaurant or more humble hawker stall and also in food courts and cafes.

5. Ramly Burger

If you’re a burger fan you should definitely try our street favorite Malaysian burger. And if you have a definite idea of what a burger tastes like, then you’re in for a surprise. The Ramly patty is uniquely different and the assembly of the burger is a recipe of its own. A typical Ramly burger consist of a beef/chicken patty, onions, cabbage, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning, a dollop of mayo and a squeeze of chilli and tomato sauce packed between two thickly slathered margarine buns. An egg omelette wrapped around the patty is a pretty standard way of serving it but Ramly Burgers are highly customizable so there is no end to the possibilities of flavours and textures for our local burger.

Ramly Burger. Street burger, Malaysian style

Where to find: The Ramly burger itself has become synonymous with late-night snacking amongst Malaysians so the Ramly stalls (usually in front of a convenient store such as 7-11) begin operations from 5-pm til past midnight.

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More from Zafigo:

Kuala Lumpur: Where to Go

Kuala Lumpur: Where to Stay

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