Official Language(s): Malay
Some Other Languages Spoken: Batek, Hakka, Kintaq, Lanoh, Mintil, Tamil, Temuan
Ethnic Groups: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8%
Malaysian cuisine uses aromatic herbs and roots, fresh chiles, pastes, leaves and dried spices to create colorful, multi-faceted flavors. Malaysian food is a combination of Malay, Chinese, and Indian traditions with Middle Eastern, Portuguese, and Southeast Asian influences, among others. Street vendors abound, serving everything from noodles to curry, bread, rice dishes with various meats, seafood, and vegetables, fruit salads, and desserts.
Recipe: Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia, but is also popular in Singapore and some regions of Indonesia. Though traditionally served for breakfast, the dish is versatile and is frequently eaten throughout the day. Many variations and accompaniments exist, but traditionally Nasi Lemak consists of coconut and pandan infused rice with hard boiled eggs, deep fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, sliced cucumber, and sambal (a spicy sauce) wrapped in banana leaves.
For the Coconut Milk Rice
3 cups long grain rice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tsp cooking oil (to prevent the rice from sticking together)
1 1/2 water
1in ginger, sliced thinly
1 red onion, sliced thinly
3-4 pieces pandan leaf, tied in knots
1 stick lemongrass, smashed
1 tsp fenugreek
Salt to taste
For the Sambal Tumis (dried anchovies sambal)
100g dried chillies, soaked in water, boiled and blended
60g shallots, blended
30g garlic, blended
30g dried shrimp paste (belachan), baked or roasted about 15 minutes
50ml tamarind juice (mixed with water)
100g medium-sized anchovies
100g red onions, sliced
Salt and sugar to taste
5 boiled eggs (cut into half)
1 cucumber, sliced round
150g medium-sized anchovies, deep-fried till golden brown and crunchy
150g peanuts, roasted
banana leaves for wrapping
For the Coconut Milk Rice
Wash rice in cold water and drain. Soak in coconut milk for 10 minutes. Pour 2 tsp of oil in the rice cooker, add the rice and let the oil coat the rice. Now add water. Add sliced ginger and red onions. Then add pandan leaf, fenugreek and lemongrass. Cook rice in rice cooker until soft for about 30 minutes.
For the Sambal Tumis
Take out all seeds from the dried chillies so that the sambal will not be too hot. Then boil and blend the chillies. Then add chillies, shallots, garlic and belachan in some water (just enough to cover the ingredients) into the blender and grind till fine.
Put some oil into a stock pot, add the chilli mixture and stir well till it changes colour. Add tamarind juice. Cook until the chilli mixture turns a little dark red. Do not overcook as the mixture will turn darker and darker. Then add anchovies and red onions. Add salt and sugar to taste.
On top of the banana leaf, dish up the coconut milk rice and pour some sambal tumis on top of the rice. Add the fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, cucumber slices, and hard-boiled eggs on the sides of the rice. Wrap up the banana leaf and let sit for at least 15 minutes so that the rice will absorb the fragrance of the banana leaf. Unwrap and serve.