Travel, Teach, Live in Asia

The Fascinating History of Malaysian Food
By:Rohana Ismail

Malaysia is the home of multiple ethnicities which found its roots during the colonial times where hundreds and thousands of immigrants arrived here to find an honest living in this prosperous land. The migrants’ mostly Chinese working in the tin mines and the Indians placed along the rubber estates brought along with them their cultures not forgetting rich culinary heritages. The cultures go along fine with their cooking where unusual traditional gathering usual accompanied by exotic mouth watering cuisine, that make up the Malaysian food recipes.

As time goes by these cooking somehow assimilated with the Malaysian local customs thus giving birth to a much more diverse and uniquely types of cooking not found anywhere else in the world, such as the famous ‘roti canai’, a kind of bread unlike any other bread is not made of yeast and has a uniquely oily textures, thanks to the acrobatic ways the dough is being flung around while in the process of making it. Other types of Malaysian foods which have its origin in India are the tasty ‘mee Mamak’ and ‘rojak Mamak’. The word mamak means uncle in Tamil, so the Indian muslim community locally are referred to as mamak. The ‘mee Mamak’ is different from other noodles it has thick spicy flavour that’ll leave you feeling hot in a slurp, while the ‘rojak Mamak’ a form of salad with the gravy made of finely pounded chilies surely will satisfied most vegetarian. The curries served in ‘mamak’ restaurants are definitely Indian but yet different then those found in India. To top it all these delectable dishes are eaten with ‘the tarik’ tea with milk that’s hard to make, literally we need to pour the tea between two big glasses or mugs and increasing the heights by pulling the pouring glass or mug higher and higher to achieve that distinctive foamy rich flavour and also to cool it. All these Malaysian Indian cooking are not found in India itself simply because the original recipes have been Malaysianize, improvised using locally available ingredients which is much cheaper and tastier.

The same thing can be said with the Malaysian Chinese cuisine like the ‘Yong taufu’ and ‘Su’un, the Chinese immigrants can’t find the ingredients for their original recipes from China so they decided to replace it with cheaper alternative sources commonly found in Malaysia like the ‘buah keluak’ and ‘kayu manis’. Other Malaysian local pride cooking which originated from abroad is the like of the popular ‘laksa’ which can be found almost everywhere in Malaysia and even has its own sub version in ‘laksa Johor’, ‘laksa Kedah’ and ‘laksa Penang’. ‘Laksa’ is thick rice noodles. ‘Laksa’ is served with tangy fish soup/gravy which is made from mackerel or sardine and lots of herbs and not fish at all because of the aroma of the herbs. It’s a favourite with the tourists for it is not too hot and spicy flavour.

Other Malaysian gourmets particularly the rice based which is the Malaysian staple diet can be traced to our neighbouring countries such in Indonesia and Thailand like the ‘soto’ and ‘nasi kerabu’ of Johor and Kelantan respectively. These cooking are being cook up with the influence of border communities centuries ago like in Golok when the people started to interact and barter together especially goods at the border town marketplaces.

The arrival of these Chinese and Indian migrants certainly spice up the Malaysian culinary scenes without them Malaysian cooking and Malaysian food recipes will not be as colourful and wonderful as they’re today. Nowadays Malaysian foods are a bigger attraction to the tourists just like the KLCC and the KL Tower. When they say Malaysia boasts of its rich cultural melting pot, the tourists must have meant plenty of Malaysian foods in the pots for the picking. Once the foreigners colonized our country now we managed to get back at them and colonize them at least their taste buds with our hot and spicy Malaysianize cooking which they fall deadly in love.

Rohana Ismail
http://www.malaysianfoodtasty.com/











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