Traditional Food in Malaysia

1. Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak, Malaysia’s beloved traditional food, is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk that is often considered the country’s national dish. It served with anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg, and a side of sambal (spicy sauce). This dish is usually eaten for breakfast or as a satisfying meal at any time of the day. The combination of flavors and textures in Nasi Lemak is a true delight.

traditional food nasi lemak

2. Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow is a popular street food in Malaysia. It’s a stir-fried noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, Chinese sausage, eggs, and often, fresh seafood such as prawns and cockles. The dish is cooked with dark soy sauce and chili paste, giving it a smoky and slightly spicy flavor that is loved by many.

traditional food Char Kway Teow

3. Roti Canai

Roti Canai is a type of flaky, crispy flatbread that originated from the Indian community in Malaysia. It is typically served with a side of curry sauce for dipping. Roti Canai is a popular breakfast or supper option and can also be enjoyed as a light meal. The skillful tossing and stretching of the dough by the Roti Canai vendors is a spectacle to behold!

traditional food Roti Canai
Credit: John Lim

4. Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Malaysia, especially in the state of Penang. It typically consists of thick rice noodles in a rich and fragrant broth made with fish or chicken, topped with bean sprouts, sliced cucumber, and a spoonful of spicy sambal. The combination of tangy, spicy, and savory flavors in Laksa is simply addictive.

traditional food Laksa
Photo by Amanda Lim

5. Satay

Satay is a popular Malay traditional food that consists of marinated and skewered meat (usually chicken, beef, or lamb) grilled over charcoal, and served with a peanut dipping sauce. Satay is often served with cucumber, onions, and ketupat (compressed rice cakes) for a complete and satisfying meal. The tender and juicy meat, along with the flavourful peanut sauce, makes Satay a crowd favourite.

Photo by Akharis Ahmad