Kitchen Tips

Characteristics of Authentic Malaysian Indian Food

The union of flavors from two different cuisines with  authentic Indian ingredients and spices on the Malaysian land  has resulted in a unique and distinctive Malaysian Indian cuisine.

It is one of the most popular cuisines in Malaysia and is easily available at most of the restaurants and street vendors.

Spicy and aromatic

Malaysian Indian Food

Image Courtesy: ALlisson H used under the Creative Commons Licence

The first element which strikes our mind when we hear of Malaysian Indian food is spices. Be it an authentic Malaysian Indian dish such as roti canai, kurma, nasi kandar or an Indo-Malaysian fusion Mamak Rojak – every dish has some spice element added to it. Something as simple as ginger and garlic or more authentic like the garam masala powder, is present in most Malaysian Indian dishes which makes it incomplete without the use of spices.

Banana leaf meal

Malaysian Indian Food

Image Courtesy: John Walker used under the Creative Commons Licence

While talking of Malaysian Indian cuisine one cannot miss the quintessential banana leaf meal. With rice at the center and different accompaniments  like pickle, fried meat or vegetable, papadam (Indian fries made of lentils), it’s a feast by itself and various curries that are served around this is not just a treat for the eyes but also to the palate.

The banana leaf meal is a tradition of the South Indian Hindu community and therefore beef is not served in this menu (as the cow is considered to be a holy animal).

Unique style of cooking

Malaysian Indian Food

Image Courtesy: Michael Verhoef used under the Creative Commons Licence

Malaysian Indian food is cooked in a unique style. Freshly ground spices and powders are used extensively in their cuisine and are slow cooked in oil, which helps enhance the flavours of the ingredients used.

The spices along with onion, garlic and ginger are first sauteed in oil. To this the meat or vegetables are added and cooked at low temperatures, till they absorb all the flavours of the spices from the oil. Only after the meat/vegetables are cooked, are the other ingredients of the dish are added.

Mamak Culture

Mamak food - Malaysian Indian food

Image Courtesy: Katherine Lim used under the Creative Commons Licence

The Indian Muslim cuisine is popularly known as the Mamak culture. The Mamak restaurants serve food in buffet style and are usually open for 24 hours. Mamak being an Indian Muslim culture of food, pork is not served in these restaurants. Also, only halal cut meat is used in all their dishes.

Some of the popular Mamak dishes are Nasi Kandar, Nasi biryani and Teh Tarik.

For more on authentic Malaysian Indian dishes read Malaysian Indian dishes that are a must try.

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