Experiences - Asia

On Tour in Malaysia: The Indian Influence

Malaysia’s melting pot of cuisines combines Malay, Indian and Chinese influences in one mouthwatering package. On our recent tour of Malaysia, we explored each of these vibrant food scenes. You can read about our experiences with Malay cuisine here, or follow our footsteps as we unearth Malaysia’s most enticing Indian dishes.

Banana leaf rice

The Indian influence

India’s stamp on Malaysia goes back hundreds of years. During the British colonisation of Malaya, South Indian (Tamil) workers were brought in to build the nation’s railways, bringing with them their love of curries, flaky roti canai,and tempering spices (frying them in hot oil to release the flavours).

Roti Canai

Today, the Malaysian-Indian population accounts for more than 7% of country. Over the years, Malay and Indian people have married, giving rise to the unique Mamak culture (you can read more about Indian Muslim Mamak cuisine here).


Exploring Little India

One of the best ways to discover Malaysia’s Indian food scene is via a walking tour of Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur. Known as Little India, this colourful neighbourhood is lined with sari stores, spice shops, and stands selling fresh flowers for the various Hindu temples.
Hindu flowers

Charlie from Food Tour Malaysia led us through the streets, stopping for banana leaf rice in an alfresco eatery, tea time treats of golden-fried curry puffs and lentil vadas, an afternoon snack of appam (fermented rice and coconut pancakes), and a Mamak dinner of nasi kandar and roti tissu at Original Kayu restaurant.

Kayu Nasi Kandar

Other must-try Malaysian-Indian specialties include putu mayam (South Indian string hoppers served with palm sugar and grated coconut) and fragrant Indian fish curry or Malaysian chicken curry.

Before you dig in, don’t forget to brush up on your Indian dining etiquette, including the correct way to eat with your hands.

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