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If you’re an Asian food lover in Sydney or Melbourne, chances are you’ve heard the word ‘mamak’ before, thanks to the queue-forming popularity of Mamak eateries. But do you know the origins of Mamak cuisine?
Thanks to its Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, Malaysia is a vibrant melting pot of cultures. Over hundreds of years, local and imported ingredients and techniques have been harmoniously integrated, creating a unique food scene of impressive depth and variety. One of the greatest examples of this confluence of cultures is the local Mamak cuisine. A marriage of Malays and Tamil Muslims, the Mamak culture has been part of Malaysia’s landscape for centuries.
Today, Mamak food stalls are found across Malaysia, particularly in the capital Kuala Lumper. Often open around the clock, these no-frills eateries offer a range of quick, affordable meals. Trademark dishes include robust curries with flaky Roti bread, stir-fried noodles, such as Mee Goreng and Mee Rebus, and satisfying rice dishes like Nasi Lemak and Nasi Kandar.
As these restaurants and stalls are generally halal (catering to the Muslim dietary requirements), there’s no pork or alcohol on the menu. Instead, try a glass of Teh Tarik, a frothy concoction of tea, hot water and condensed milk—you can even have a go at making Teh Tarik at home.