the second part of the marriage Malays are the people who ceremony and in various ceremonies inhabit the Malayan Peninsula and of State. Malays have also preserved some of the nearby islands, including some of their more ancient beliefs in the east coast of Sumatra, the coast spirits of the soil and jungle, often of Borneo and smaller islands that lie having recourse to medicine men between the area. These tribal called bomohs [shamans] for the proto-Malays were a seafaring treatment of ailments. people. Present day Malays of the Peninsula and coasts of the Malay In the northern states of Perlis and Archipelago are "anthropologically Kedah, intermarriages with Thais described as deutero-Malays" and were commonplace. The east coast are the descendants of the tribal state of Kelantan still has traces of proto-Malays mixed with modern Javanese culture that date back to Indian, Thai, Arab and Chinese the era of the Majapahit Empire of ancestry. Malay culture itself has the 14th century. The Sumatran been strongly influenced by that of kingdom of Acheh dominated Perak people of neighboring lands, for over a century. The Bugis from including Siamese, Javanese, Indonesia's Celebes Islands Sumatran and Indians. The influence colonized Selangor and fought for of Hindu India was historically very rulers in States along the length of great, and the Malay people were the peninsula - from Kedah to Johor. largely Hinduized before they were The Minangkabaus from Sumatra had converted to Islam in the 15th their own independent chiefdoms in century. For 2000 years, the traffic what is today the state of Negri of traders between the Malayan Sembilan. This mix of different Archipelago and India resulted in ethnic groups form what is the frequent intermarriages especially modern Malay and can be clearly Tamils and Gujeratis. Some Hindu seen in the lineage of, for example, rituals survive in Malay culture, as in Malacca's royalty. Sultan Muhammad Shah married a Tamil from South Lemak dishes are typically not hot to India. Sultan Mansur Shah married a taste; it is aromatically spiced and Javanese, a Chinese and a Siamese; coconut milk is added for a creamy the Siamese wife bore two future richness [lemak]. Assam Jawa, or Sultans of Pahang. It was this tamarind paste is a key element in diversity of races, cultures and many Malay assam dishes for adding influences that has the given the a sour or tangy taste; especially for modern Malay race the rich and fish and seafood dishes. What is unique historical heritage it has tamarind paste? Tamarind paste is today. the pulp extracted from tamarind pods commonly used as a souring This rich historical heritage has ingredient in Latin America, India, evidently resulted in it's exotic Africa and Asia. While the prime cuisine. In Malay cuisine fresh taste is sour, the underlying tang is aromatic herbs and roots are used, slightly sweet, reminiscent of dried some familiar, such as lemongrass, apricots or dried prunes. The pulp or ginger, garlic, shallots, kaffir limes paste is commonly sold in the form and fresh chilies. Both fresh and of a semi-dry flat block. To use, dried chilies are used, usually ground simply pinch a small lump from the into a sambal or chili paste to add block and soak it in some warm hotness to dishes. There are water. Use your fingers to squish it however, less commonly known about in the water to separate the herbs and roots that are essential in seeds and fibers; the resulting paste Malay cooking; such as daun or tamarind water is used for kemangi [a type of basil], daun cooking. kesum [polygonum, commonly called Many Malay signature dishes require laksa leaf], bunga kantan [wild a key ingredient called Belacan [also ginger flower buds or torch ginger], spelt Belachan, Blacan, Blachan], kunyit basah [turmeric root], pronounced blah-chan. Tiny baby lengkuas [galangal] and pandan or shrimp or brine are allowed to pandanus [screwpine leave]. Dried ferment, cured with salt, sun-dried spices frequently used in Malay and formed into a small brick or cake. cooking are jintan manis [fennel], Similar to how anchovy paste is used jintan putih [cumin] and ketumbar in Italian cooking, belacan is used [coriander]; Other dried spices used much the same way, that is, are cloves, cardamom, star anise, sparingly. Not overly 'fishy', a tiny mustard seeds, fenugreek, cinnamon amount of belacan adds 'sweetness' and nutmeg. Both fresh and dried to meats and intensity to fish & ingredients are frequently used seafood. It adds a 'kick' to vegetable together, usually ground into a dishes, such as the famed Malaysian rempah ['spice paste]. The rempah dish Kangkong Belacan. Belacan is is then sautéed in oil to bring out it's also the basis of a well-loved Malay flavorful aroma and toasted condiment - Sambal Belacan. It's goodness. Santan [coconut milk] is made by first roasting a small lump the basis of Malay lemak dishes. of belacan, which is then pounded with fresh chilies and lime juice is ikan tenggiri [wolf herring] and ikan added. This appetizing condiment is tongkol, also called ikan kayu [tuna], almost always present in any typical are seasoned very simply with salt, Malay meal. Belacan also makes a pepper, a sprinkling of turmeric flavorful base for sauces and gravy, powder and quickly deep fried. Often adding depth and an intriguing taste the fish is stuffed with sambal that you can't quite decipher. When belacan before frying or grilling. uncooked, the pressed cake has a Grilling or barbequing is another powerful scent like "stinky cheese". favorite way of cooking fish; fish is But don't be put off; it mellows out typically kept whole, seasoned, and harmonizes in the cooking wrapped in banana leaves and grilled leaving behind an understated over hot charcoals. Many local Malay richness that simply cannot be hawker stalls specialize in Ikan reproduced. Best described as all Panggang [Grilled fish] or Ikan 'natural' flavor enhancer, belacan is Bakar [Barbecued Fish]. what gives many of the foods from Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Depending on the main basic Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, 'flavoring' ingredient; Malay dishes Vietnam - that authentic flavor and can be more or less, distinguished zest! into several 'styles' of cooking: As in most countries of Southeast Masak Lemak [coconut], Masak Asia, rice is staple. It is served for Pedas [sambal, hot chilies], Masak lunch, dinner and often breakfast. Assam [tamarind], Masak Merah Originally eaten as a hearty [tomato sauce], Masak Hitam [dark- breakfast Nasi Lemak is a meal of sweet soy sauce] and Masak Assam rice cooked in santan [coconut milk] Pedas [tamarind & sambal, hot served with a side of Sambal Ikan chilies]. These basic styles of Bilis [dried anchovies cooked in a cooking can be applied to a variety sambal], cucumber slices, hard of food, from meats, poultry and boiled egg and peanuts, and vegetables to all kinds of seafood traditionally packaged in a fresh and fish. Popular dishes are Ayam banana leaf. Most meals are eaten Masak Merah; chicken cooked in a with fingers and utensils are kept to spicy tomato sauce, goes great with a minimum. All dishes are served at nasi tomato [tomato rice]. Udang the same time, usually accompanied Masak Pedas; prawns cooked in a by a refreshing drink such as air hot chili sauce, Ikan Masak Assam sirap [rose syrup] or air limau [lime Pedas; fish cooked with tamarind and juice]. Seafood such as shrimp or sambal or hot chilies and Nangka rather prawn [which is the general Masak Lemak; young jackfruit term commonly used in Malaysia for cooked in coconut milk. There are all types/sizes of this crustacean], innumerable renowned and squid and fish in particular, are distinguished Malay dishes; many of popular in Malay cuisine. Fish caught which can only be had at home. The from local waters such as ikan best way to experience typical Malay kembong [chubb or Indian mackerel], food is to be invited for makan [meaning 'to eat', in Malay] in a sauced dishes, and delicious deep- Malay home. There are also regional fried foods. Some of the popular dishes which are specialties of dishes are Sambal Udang or Sambal different parts of the country. One of Sotong; prawns or squid in a spicy the most celebrated Malaysian dish chili belacan sauce. Ayam Panggang; worldwide is Beef Rendang; a must- grilled chicken Malay-style, Otak have for celebrations and special Otak [fish mousse]; a mildly spiced occasions! Soup is not necessarily coconut milk fish mousse steamed or prevalent in Malay cuisine; however grilled in banana leaves. Other there is a soup or stew that is popular dishes are Sambal Tahu particularly popular Sup Kambing Goreng; deep-fried tofu topped with [mutton soup], made of mutton sambal sauce, Daging Masak Kicap; bones, shanks or ribs slow simmered beef cooked in a dark-sweet soy with aromatic herbs and spices. Pork sauce and Ayam Kampung Masak however is forbidden in Malay Lemak Cili Padi; free-range [village] cooking as it is against religious chicken cooked in santan [coconut beliefs to consume pork. Another milk] and cili padi [Thai bird chilies]. famous Malay classic is the 'meat- The all-time everyday favorites and on-a-stick' Satay. Chicken, beef or quick-fix's are Nasi Goreng [fried mutton satays are cooked over hot rice] and Mee Goreng [fried noodles] charcoals and served with fresh cooked Malay style. Another cucumber, onion and a spicy peanut everyday favorite is a delicious, dipping sauce. The spicy peanut satisfying noodle dish called Laksa; dipping sauce is what makes satay fresh rice noodles, garnished with special, and great for dipping ketupat, fresh cucumbers, onions, lettuce and a Malay rice cake. served in a savory and tangy fish soup or gravy. Many Malay restaurants and stalls serve what is called Nasi Padang; Nasi Kerabu or Nasi Ulam, is a the name originated from Padang, a regional specialty from the state of district in West Sumatra. It is not one Kelantan on the east coast of particular dish but rather a meal of Malaysia. Traditionally, the rice is rice served with any number of meat, tinted bright blue from petals of fish, poultry and vegetable dishes. flowers called bunga telang [clitoria The rice can be plain [nasi kosong] in English]. For a family size serving or lightly flavored such as nasi of rice, hundreds of these petals kunyit [turmeric rice]; rice spiced have to be sun-dried and boiled in with turmeric, or nasi minyak [ghee water. There are several varieties of rice]; rice cooked with ghee local herbs; daun kentut, daun kudu, [clarified butter]. A wide array of cekur, seven types of daun larak and dishes are available for you to kucing seduduk, which is used to tint choose to eat with your choice of the rice in different colors; red, rice; from highly spiced and tongue- black or blue. The most used variety burning hot dishes, to mild, for Nasi Kerabu is the 'blue color' aromatically spiced stews and variety of petals. This naturally tinted 'blue rice' is served with Ulam. endless; many are unique creations Ulam is combination of fresh made by home chefs, not found aromatic herbs; local mint, basil, anywhere in the culinary circle of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, the dessert world! turmeric leaves and raw vegetables; bean sprouts, long green beans, shallots, cucumber, are combined together with strong flavored ingredients such as salted fish, dried prawns, fish crackers, kerisik [fried grated coconut] and other savory : Coconut-flavored garnishing. Rice Meal - is rice cooked in coconut milk made aromatic with One of the most unique Malay pandan leaves [screwpine leaves]. It culinary creation is Roti Jala ['net' is typically served with Sambal Ikan bread] which is a sort of crepe or Bilis - fried dried anchovies cooked thin pancake. It is made from a in a dry sambal sauce, and garnished crepe-like batter of plain flour, eggs, with cucumber slices, hard boiled butter and coconut milk with a dash egg and roasted peanuts. of turmeric for coloring. A special Traditionally packaged in a banana mould or cup with small holes is leaf, it is usually eaten as hearty used to make a 'lacy' crepe, cooked breakfast fare. briefly over a hot greased griddle. Roti Jala is an ideal accompaniment to dishes with lots of rich curry BBQ Sticks - This sauces or gravy, and is usually famous meat-on-a-stick appears on served during special occasions. menus from New York to Desserts are often served after a Amsterdam. The secret of tender, meal or an an afternoon snack; many succulent satay is, of course, in the are home-made although most are rich, spicy-sweet marinade. The easily available from local hawker marinated meat; chicken or beef, are stalls and restaurants especially skewered onto bamboo sticks and during Ramadan, the religious fasting grilled over hot charcoals. Some period. Malay desserts are quite satay stalls also serve venison and exceptional, using ingredients such rabbit satay. A fresh salad of as Santan [coconut milk], fresh cucumbers & onions are served grated coconut, palm sugar and a together with a spicy-sweet peanut unique plant leave called pandan or sauce for dipping. Ketupat, a Malay pandanus [screwpine]. This locally rice cake similar to Lontong, is also grown plant leave is used often in an accompaniment to satay, great for dessert making. It lends essence dipping in satay sauce. Dee'lish!! rather than a taste, much like the ubiquitous vanilla bean. During the Malay New Year [Hari Raya or Eid], : Malay Spiced the variety of cakes and dessert are Coconut Beef - This hot, dry spiced dish of tenderly simmered meat offers the typical Malaysian taste of : Noodles in Tangy Fish coconut, balanced with robust, tangy Soup - Thick rice noodles are spices. Rendang is a must-have on served in a tangy fish soup/gravy. special occasions such as weddings, Not at all fishy, the soupy gravy is ideally served with nasi kunyit made with mackerel and lots of [turmeric rice]. During Ramadan & aromatic herbs. Fresh garnishing of Eid, the Malay New Year, Rendang is shredded cucumber, lettuce, sure to take center stage on pineapple, onion and fragrant mint bountiful tables of feast in homes leaves finishes the dish. In general everywhere. During this festive the term Laksa refers to Malay style season, a special rice cake called laksa, sometimes called Malay Laksa. Lemang is made to eat with Rendang. There are slight variations in Lemang is made from glutinous rice different parts of the country. The and santan [coconut milk], carefully key ingredient is tamarind, used as a packed into bamboo poles lined with souring agent, giving it a tart tangy banana leaves and cooked in the taste. This version of laksa from the traditionally way over low open fires. 'hawker food capital' - Penang, is especially famous and well known as Penang Laksa or Penang Assam : Spicy Prawns Laksa. - whole prawns or shrimp are cooked in a classic Malay sauce; a spicy robust sauce made with chilies, : Indonesian style shallots, garlic, stewed tomatoes, Noodles - is a popular Malay noodle tamarind paste and belacan [also dish influenced by the Indonesian spelt belachan or blacan], a dried island of Java. The soupy gravy is shrimp paste paste. Sambal Udang is made from fresh prawns and ladled the perfect accompaniment to the over yellow egg noodles [chow country's un-official national dish - mein]. Slices of potato, tofu [soy Nasi Lemak. bean cake], egg, vegetables and shrimp garnishes the dish. : Red- Cooked Chicken - is similar to the : 'Net' Bread or Crepe Italian famous dish Chicken - is a net-like or lacy type of crepe Cacciatore except for it spicy made from a flour batter. A special hotness. Pieces of chicken are first cup or mould with small holes, is pan-fried to a golden brown then used to form a lacy crepe cooked on slowly simmered in a spicy tomato a hot griddle. Roti Jala, an alternative sauce. This popular Malay dish is to rice, is an ideal accompaniment to especially scrumptious with nasi curries such as Malaysian Chicken tomato [tomato rice]. Curry, Mutton Kurma, Chicken Kapitan, Lamb Cashew Korma [also spelt Korma]. belacan; serve with steamed rice and you've got yourself a meal! : BBQ Fish - or Ikan Panggang is a general term meaning grilled or barbecued fish. A : Malay Fish Mousse popular local fish for grilling is Ikan - fresh fish fillets are blended with Kembong [chubb mackerel, also light spices, coconut milk, kaffir lime called Indian mackerel]. The fish, leaves and other aromatic herbs, into kept whole is marinated in spices, a sort of fish mousse. The fish coconut milk, and sometimes stuffed mousse is wrapped in banana leaves with sambal, then wrapped in fresh and steamed or grilled. It makes an banana leaves and grilled over hot exotic appetizer or cocktail party charcoals. bite! : BBQ : Mutton Soup - Stingray or Skate Wings - A popular mutton bones, shanks or ribs are method of cooking stingray or skate slow simmered with aromatic herbs wings is by barbequing. The wings and spices. Garnished with fried are marinated in spices then shallots and fresh cilantro, it is a wrapped in banana leaves and grilled hearty meal served with steamed over hot charcoals. A spicy sambal rice. This flavorful soup - sauce with fresh shallots is served surprisingly earthy, satisfyingly with it. meaty, elegant and subtle - will forever change the way you view soup. Oxtails are perfect in this : Spicy Squid recipe to make Sup Ekor, also called - fresh squid [calamari] are cooked Sup Buntut [Oxtail Soup]. in a classic Malay sauce; a spicy robust sauce made with chilies, shallots, garlic, stewed tomatoes, : Coconut tamarind paste and belacan [also Vegetable Stew - Sayur Lodeh spelt belachan or blacan], a dried means a variety of vegetables in shrimp paste. Sambal Sotong is also coconut gravy. Vegetables such as a popular accompaniment to the cabbage, carrots, green beans and country's un-official national dish - cauliflower, are stewed in a lightly Nasi Lemak. spiced coconut broth. For a complete and hearty meal, the vegetable stew is served with a Malay rice cake : 'Chili-ed' Eggs called nasi impit more familiarly - an 'egg-cellent' recipe for those known as Lontong. A great days when all you've left in the vegetarian dish! fridge are eggs.. Hard-boil those eggs, 'chili' them up with sambal, kick it up a notch with a touch of : Indian Pastry Pancake - Indian in origin, this rich and flaky pastry pancake has now come to be known as a favorite : Coconut Poppers - Malaysian 'appetizer' in Malaysian small round balls made from eateries all over the globe. Roti glutinous rice flour with pandan Canai [also called Roti Prata] is [screwpine] leaves essence, filled served with a side of curry for with palm sugar and rolled in fresh dipping, usually a Malaysian Chicken grated coconut. A delight to eat as it Curry. pops in your mouth with a sweet sensation of oozing palm syrup! : or Kari Ayam in Malay, is a typical : Steamed Coconut chicken curry cooked in almost all Pudding - this 2 layered pudding Malaysian homes. This basic recipe made of rice flour, sago flour and uses a Made in Malaysia Meat Curry coconut milk is cooked by steaming. Powder. It has just the right blend of Pandan [screwpine] leaves lends spices for an authentic 'Malaysian- essence and the green color to one tasting' curry! Some ingredients may layer. A white coconut layer goes on vary - Malay homes might add serai top. A not too sweet and light [lemongrass], lengkuas [galangal], dessert! kunyit [fresh turmeric root] or assam jawa [tamarind]. : Glutinous Rice with Coconut Topping - a kind of 'dry' : is a rice pudding made from glutinous typical fish curry cooked in almost rice & coconut milk. It is cooked by all Malaysian homes. This basic steaming. The dessert rice is topped recipe uses a Made in Malaysia Fish with fresh grated coconut sweetened Curry Powder. It has just the right with palm sugar. It is traditionally blend of spices for an authentic wrapped in banana leaves folded into 'Malaysian-tasting' fish curry! Some a pyramid shape. ingredients vary - Malay homes might cook with lengkuas [galangal], assam gelugor [tamarind skins], cili : Black Rice padi [Thai Bird chilies], serai Pudding - a rice pudding made from [lemongrass], assam jawa [tamarind] black glutinous rice sweetened with and belacan [also spelt belachan or brown palm sugar. A surrey of blacan] a dried shrimp paste. creamy coconut milk is swirled over the rice pudding before it is served.
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