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Malaysian Cuisine and Recipes

Malaysian Recipes, Food and Cooking

Cooking by Country - April 2005


Scroll down for Traditional Recipes from Malaysia



Go to:-  Malaysia Featured Ingredient  |  Malaysia Speciality Dish  | Cooking by Country Main Page


Malaysia is situated in Southeast Asia. Itís unusual in that it consists of two separate parts (shaded light on the map): the Malaysian Peninsula to the west and the States of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo to the east, which are separated from each other by the South China Sea. The Western Peninsula is bordered by Thailand to the north with the Island of Singapore lying close to the south and linked to it by a causeway. The Eastern part has land borders with Brunei and the rest of Borneo (Indonesia).

Malaysia consists of large areas of heavy forest, plus lowland plains and hills. The climate is hot and humid- ideal for the growing of tropical fruit, vegetables and rice, although a cooler climate is to be found in the mountainous regions


Ancient times, history and influences on Malaysian Cooking


Although not that much is known about the very early history of Malaysia, tools and implements dating back to 10,000 BC have been found. Certainly, by 6000BC there were occupants in the north, thought to have migrated via China and Tibet. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers who probably hunted smaller creatures which they cooked with the aid of crude instruments made from stone and mainly occupied the forests and jungles.

About 2,500BC Proto-Malays, whose ancestors were believed to have migrated from the Indonesian islands, arrived in the costal and river areas. They were technically more advanced than the earlier inhabitants and practised slash and burn agriculture whereby an area of rain forest was cleared by burning it, then crops were grown. Not surprisingly, their diets consisted mainly of fish and the crops they grew as well as the abundant indigenous fruit and vegetables. By the 1st century BC, trading links had been established with China and India, which were to have a major impact on the cuisine of Malaysia.

Other major influences on its cuisines were introduced by virtue of rulers or protectors of different regions over the preceding centuries including Cambodians, Sumatrans, Javanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese finally culminating with the British who, having taken control of areas in the East, encouraged the immigration of large numbers of Indians and Chinese workers to further develop the every growing rubber and tin industries

Current Day Malaysian Cuisine


Malaysia was only established as a united country in 1963. The rich racial mix has created a unified cuisine which at the same time retains the unique qualities of traditional cooking methods and ingredients of Malay, Indian, Indonesian and Chinese cultures.
In general, Malay and Indian cooking are spicy whilst Chinese cuisine is milder in taste. For hundreds of years, rice or noodles have been staples of the Malaysian diet and good use has always been made of the abundant supply of fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables. Seasonings such as galangal, chilli, lemon grass, lime leaves, coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and star aniseed are a must. Fish and seafood are still popular  ingredients as is beef, mutton and chicken. Pork is a lesser used meat as over 50% of the population are Muslims. Peanuts and coconut milk are also widely used in many dishes

Traditionally, an everyday meal consist of rice, a meat or seafood dish and a vegetable dish. All the dishes are served at the same time with up to 6 dishes being placed on the table.

Click here for lots of Malaysian Recipes

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