Our love for food is a driving force that unites us Malaysians. That said, it could not be more apt for us to make a list of Malaysian fried foods just because! Besides, with the rainy and cool weather we’ve been having, the craving for something hot and crisp has been REAL.
Every Malaysian has eaten at least one dish (read: all) or snack from the list below, and if you haven’t tried ANY of them, where have you been? Seriously. While there are infinitely more delicious fried goodies worth mentioning, here are some ‘starters’ to tickle those taste buds. Now, get drooling!
1. Pisang goreng
A classic Malaysian roadside stall snack is pisang goreng, otherwise known in English as banana fritters. The bananas are sliced into vertical halves, dipped in batter, and deep-fried in hot oil. Green bananas are commonly used as they won’t disintegrate or overcook.
2. Keropok lekor
Originating from the state of Terengganu, this savoury fish snack is known and loved by everyone. It is made of fish paste, sago flour, salt, and sugar. The seasoned paste is rolled into sausage shapes or cut into slices before they are deep-fried. The sausage-shaped lekor has a crunchy outside and chewy inside, while the sliced lekor is thinner and crispier.
3. Yauh ja gwai (cakoi)
The literal translation of yauh ja gwai is ‘oil-fried pastry’. Commonly known as cakoi in Bahasa Malaysia and youtiao in Mandarin, this long golden-brown deep-fried goodness is crunchy on the outside and airy inside. It is perfect for breakfast — whether on its own, with coffee or soy milk, or as an accompaniment to rice congee.
4. Maggi goreng telur mata
Ever had a late night out and ended it with the perfect plate of maggi goreng telur mata? Hot, aromatic, stir-fried Maggi noodles topped with a runny sunny side up, then drizzled with lime juice. If that’s not one of the best things in the world after a long night of fun, I don’t know what is.
The name murukku comes from the Tamil word ‘twisted’, which is about the shape of this snack. Although there are many varieties of this crunchy goodness from the Indian subcontinent, it is typically made using rice and black gram flour that’s been seasoned with salt, chilli powder, and cumin seeds. The resulting dough is squeezed out of a murukku press in a circular motion and then deep-fried in oil.
Karipap is a borrowed word from curry puffs. It is essentially a deep-fried shell-shaped pastry filled with potato and chicken curry! Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a quarter of a hard-boiled egg in there. It’s best enjoyed piping hot, but if you’re not fond of scalding your tongue, eating it warm works too. Although, I’d personally argue that it doesn’t taste as good when warm.
7. Ayam goreng kunyit
Ayam goreng kunyit, translated from Bahasa Malaysia, means turmeric fried chicken, and that’s exactly what it is! This incredibly simple-yet-delicious dish consists of fried cubes of chicken breast (marinated in turmeric and sometimes curry powder), accompanied by long beans and sliced white onions. It is usually enjoyed with rice drizzled in kicap manis (sweet soy sauce) and paired with sambal (spicy chilli paste). Oh, I’m craving for a plate of this goodness right now!
8. Chicken 65
This deep-fried chicken dish with a mysterious name can be found in most banana leaf rice restaurants across Malaysia. Its origins can be traced back to Buhari Hotel in Chennai, India, where the recipe was developed in 1965 — hence the 65 in its name. Although there are varying opinions on how and why the number 65 is used, it is still undoubtedly a delectable fried chicken dish.
9. Char kway teow
The most famous street food of Penang! It is a savoury stir-fried kway teow (flat rice noodles) dish, usually cooked with prawns, soy sauce, eggs, and taugeh (bean sprouts). This dish is so iconic that we even made a list of where to find the most legit char kway teow in Penang. Now, there’s no excuse not to get yourself a plate of this wok hei-filled (aroma of the wok) dish!
10. Roti canai
Roti canai is a type of Indian flatbread made of ghee, flour, and water, then prepared on a griddle. This flaky and crispy dough is served with dhal curry, a meat-based curry, and sambal. There are many kinds of stuffings you can add to your roti canai — the common ones being egg, red onion, and cheese. Oh, and it was also ranked the world’s best street food recently!
11. Cucur udang
Mmm, prawn fritters. Imagine a deep-fried crispy batter with a prawn or several small prawns inside. Nothing says indulgence quite like cucur udang. Oily, crisp, and with some texture from the prawns, served with a sweet chilli sauce — the perfect tea-time snack!
12. Telur dadar
It might seem like a normal omelette to you at first, but do not be fooled. Once you bite into it, you’ll realise it’s the airiest, fluffy, and soft omelette you’ve ever had in your life. Telur dadar is prepared by deep-frying beaten eggs in very hot oil, making the omelette rise and bubble, creating its airy texture.