The Most Amazing Malaysian Food Experiences

Visitors to Malaysia have the opportunity to try some of the most delicious, tasty and memorable meals in the world. Malaysia hotels and, in Qatar, Doha hotels offer a range of different dining possibilities that showcase some of the most amazing local food experiences. Here we take a look at different features of Malaysian food, including some of its most unique and notable dishes.

Essentially, a number of different types of ethnic food make up Malay cuisine. These include:


The influence of Chinese food in Malay cuisine is predominantly Cantonese in origin. Cantonese food is well-respected for its variety and the fresh ingredients that are used. Stir-fried foods made with a touch of oil are common, as are foods such as sweet and sour dishes, chow mein, wonton and spring rolls.

The Chinese tradition of dim sum is also popular in Malaysia and is characterised by little snacks served in small bowls that are taken from passing trolleys. Dim sum is usually eaten at lunchtime or for brunch on a Sunday.

Some quite expensive and special Cantonese delicacies such as bird’s nest soup and shark fin soup are eaten in Malaysia, but so too are far less expensive options such as noodles and congee (rice porridge).

While less common in Malaysia than Cantonese Chinese food, food from Beijing (Peking) is sometimes eaten. In Malaysia, it is more likely to be served with rice rather than hot steamed buns or noodles as it would traditionally be served.

Hainanese chicken rice is an economical meal that is widely enjoyed across Malaysia. Hainanese steamboat — akin to a Swiss fondue as a boiling stockpot is set in the middle of the table into which people dip pieces of vegetable, seafood and meat — is also a feature of Malay cuisine.


The Indian influence on Malaysian cuisine is noted as early as the 19th century and both northern and southern Indian influenced cuisine is available in Malaysia.

Of course, spices are critical to most Indian dishes, with quantities and ratios varying according to places of geographical origin. Coriander, cumin, chillies, turmeric, fennel and fenugreek are some of the most commonly ground and used spices. Meat and ingredients such as yoghurt and ghee are used in North Indian dishes that are often not so spicy, and bread and chapatis commonly accompany meals. In contrast, rice features prominently in many south Indian meals and coconut milk, mustard seeds and chillies are often-used ingredients.

In Malaysia, many Indian restaurants and food stalls can be found. Indian food in Malaysia is frequently served on a thali – a metal tray that is circular in shape and holds many different small bowls. Dishes eaten using fingers, rice or bread are placed directly on the thali and curries and other dishes are served in the bowls. Accompaniments including dried fish, papadums and chutneys may also be included.

In Malaysia, some local Indian hawkers have developed ‘Malay versions’ of particular dishes that are not found in India. Mee Goreng is a good example of this and a dish which combines Chinese yellow noodles, bean sprouts, tofu and dried shrimp paste. Nasi Kandar, essentially a combination of Malay and Indian cuisine is also on the menu in many Malaysian eateries.


Malay food is definitely characterised by variety. Traditional Malay food carries strong influences from the traders of neighbouring countries, including Indonesia, India, the Middle East and China. Because Malay food blends a variety of spices and herbs, it is often recognised as being both spicy and full of flavour.

Lemongrass, pandan leaves, kaffir lime leaves and many different fresh herbs and spices are typically incorporated in Malay cuisine. Fresh seasonings — including: fresh galangal, turmeric, chilli paste, onions and garlic — are used to enhance the taste and flavour of a variety of Malay dishes, as is fresh coconut milk.

Rice forms an important part of any Malay meal and is often eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper time. Fish and other seafood, including shrimp and cuttlefish, are popularly used, as are beef and mutton. Chicken is also popular, but pork is never or rarely used for religious reasons.

Sweet desserts are served at almost every Malay meal and feature ingredients such as flour, palm sugar and coconut milk.

Malaysia is a country that features a range of wonderful food options with dishes that carry the influence of other cultures and traditions.

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