Malaysia is thought of as a culinary paradise, and not without reason. Kuala Lumpur itself represents the gateway to the kitchen of the region: the local cuisine here representing an original cocktail of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Thai gastronomic traditions. It is considered to be one of the most varied cuisines in the world, and its dishes are famous for their refined combination of inimitable tastes and aromas.
The key element of the classical Malay diet is rice – and this is the ingredient that forms the basis of most national dishes. Locals fry rice, stew it in coconut milk, steam and boil it, in order to make their excellent side dishes. Rice is usually served with fresh or stewed vegetables, fish and seafood, which are seasoned with spicy sauces, fragrant herbs and gorgeous spices. This skilful use of aromas and fragrance is the reason that so many local dishes have their amazing, incomparable flavors, and turns even the most basic of dishes into a true culinary masterpiece. The essential ingredients of Malay cuisine include curry, tamarind, lemon grass, chilli, anise, and ginger.
In terms of meat, preference is given to chicken, lamb, and beef. Pork, on the other hand, is hardly ever served in Kuala Lumpur, because most local residents are Muslim. However, pork dishes can be found in most Chinese restaurants.
There are several dishes, in order to find out true taste of Kuala Lumpur, must be tasted without fail. They are trademarks of Malay cuisine, which is not only famous for its unconventional taste, but also considered to be one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Given the use of ngredients and the method of their cooking, it is ideal for those who prefer a healthier diet.
Nasi Lemak is fragrant rice, boiled in coconut milk and seasoned with aniseed and ginger. It is traditionally served with boiled eggs, anchovies, fresh cucumber, and roasted peanuts. Malays believe that this appetizing and nourishing dish is best served at breakfast.
Roti Canai is another traditional Malay breakfast. It consists of thin pancakes, which are stuffed with lentils, chicken curry, vegetables, or cheese. Sometimes they are not filled with any stuffing, but are used as bread and dipped into various sauces.
Satay is a dish consisting of delicate chicken, pork or beef kebabs. The meat is marinated for a long time in a special sauce that adds a unique flavor and juiciness to the meat, which is then cooked on charcoal. The dish is best served with onion, fresh cucumber, and peanut sauce.
Laksa is coconut milk-based traditional Asian soup, made with chicken or seafood, vegetables, and rice noodles. Laksa is often made without coconut milk in Malaysia, and while not conventional creamy, offers a refreshingly sweet-sour flavor.
Char Kway Teow are rice noodles, which are fried in a mixture of garlic, bean sprouts, shrimps, eggs, and shellfish. To add spice to the dish, soy or chili sauce is added to it.
Cendol and Ais Kacang are two desserts that are well worth tasting. They are made by creating a hill of ice chips with different flavors, and then covered with condensed or coconut milk.
Malays’ favorite drinks are tea and coffee. Locals traditionally drink them with condensed milk and spices. Teh Tarik is an especially popular tea, served with a thick milk foam that is created by pouring the drink repeatedly from one cup to another. Fresh juices, made from passion fruit, papaya, guava, coconut, rambutan, pomelo, mangosteen, and other tropical fruits, are served as cold liquid refreshments. Spirits are not especially popular in Kuala Lumpur, and if they want alcohol, locals generally drink basic wine that is imported from neighboring countries and Australia, as well as beer, both imported and locally produced.
If you would like to the taste authentic dishes in Kuala Lumpur, the best solution is to visit a specialised restaurant. These are situated mainly in the ethnic quarters: Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Baru (the Malaysian Village). Meanwhile, numerous stalls and kiosks sell food on the capital’s streets, and may offer a variety of national specialities. These kiosks are of such quality that they are no less popular among locals than the restaurants. Visitors should not be afraid of the street food in Kuala Lumpur: dishes are usually cooked from fresh products right in front of you.
More familiar surroundings for western guests are provided by the wide range of eateries that specialise in traditional European cuisine, as well as American fast-food restaurants and Japanese sushi bars. However, it is well worth tasting Kuala Lumpur’s original cuisine, which is intrinsically linked with the true feel of the city.