Experiences - Asia

9 Must-Try Authentic Malaysian Indian Dishes

Malaysian Indian cuisine is both popular and easily available.  The food being spicy and flavourful; with a variety of ingredients used to prepare it, is a cuisine tried by many and loved by all.

The Indian community were brought into Malaysia as labourers who worked at rubber fields and other construction sites. However, they slowly settled here and become one amongst the people of the country. Along with their work skills, they also brought the flavours of Indian food.

Indian cuisine offers a wide variety of foods to choose from – be it breads, rice, curries, salads or chutneys and pickles. Since the Indian population in Malaysia mainly consist of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam speaking people, the food is mostly of South Indian flavours.

Traditionally, a South Indian meal are served on a banana leaf with rice in the centre and all the other accompaniments served around it which is part of Indian dining etiquettes.

Mamak dishes are distinctive style adopted by the Indian Muslims in Malaysia. They are prepared using only halal meat and no pork. Mamak restaurants and stalls are found all over the country and are extremely popular.

Here is a round-up of 9 Authentic Malaysian Indian dishes:



Banana leaf meal  - Indian Malaysian cuisine

Image Courtesy: Sid Das used under the Creative Commons Licence

A  staple food of Indians (South Indians), rice is served with a variety of curries and pickles. It is best enjoyed a fresh banana leaf along with fried vegetables, fish and papadams (Indian fries made of lentils). Take a look at 7 authentic Malay Rice dishes worth trying.

1. Nasi Kandar


Image Courtesy: LWYang used under the Creative Commons Licence

This is a popular Mamak dish which is plain rice or rice cooked in ghee (clarified butter), various spices and either meat or vegetables. It is made by the Indian Muslim community in Malaysia. Here’s how to make Nasi Kandar in 5 simple steps.

2. Pongal –  a rice dish named after a popular harvest festival Pongal, celebrated in the month of January. It is cooked in both sweet and spicy variants. The sweet pongal is prepared using jaggery and milk while the spicy version is prepared using ginger and pepper.


Roti Canai - Indian Malaysian Cuisine

Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

Flat breads or rotis are another specialty of the Indian cuisine that have been adopted by Malaysians as part of diverse offerings. They are served with dals (lentil curries) and meat curries. There are a wide variety of rotis that one can choose from:

3. Roti CanaiRoti Canai is made from wheat flour, ghee and water.

4. Naan – Flatbread made using wheat or all-purpose flour and baked in a tandoor (clay pot).

5. Murtabak – a roti canai which is filled with spices, minced meat, onions, ginger and garlic.

6. Thosai and Uttapam


Image Courtesy: Jonathan Lin used under the Creative Commons Licence

Thosai and Uttapam are pan cakes made from lentil batters. Thosai is served with coconut chutney and sambar. Uttapam is cooked with topping such as onion, chilies, tomato, cabbage etc.


Gulab jamun - Indian Malaysian Cuisine

Image Courtesy: Michelle Peters – Jones used under the Creative Commons Licence

Although Indian food is filled with aromatic spices, the desserts are a quintessential part of their meal. Indians love their sweets as much they love the spices. Some of the popular desserts are:

7. Gulab Jamun – It is a very popular dish where flour batters are deep fried in oil and soaked in sugar and cardamom syrup.

8. Payasam – This dish is mainly milk cooked with rice or vermicelli and sugar.

9.  Halwa – Halwa always has one main ingredient which cooked in sugar, cardamom and a whole lot of nuts. The main ingredient could be any kind of flour or ever vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin, yam etc.

Other sweets include laddu and jelebi. Here’s a full list of unique Malaysian drinks and desserts.

However, knowing that Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, do not be surprised to find an amalgamated version of various Indian dishes.  Read about Authentic Malay Dishes.

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