Malaysian cuisine has been influenced by Indonesia, China, the Middle East and India. Malay and Indian foods are spicier than Chinese foods. Malaysian Chinese cuisine has roots in various parts of China and includes Cantonese and Hainanese dishes. Fish and rice are staples of the Malaysian diet. Herbs and spices, such as lemongrass, tamarind, ginger, turmeric, garlic and chili, are often used. Coconut milk is an essential ingredient in many dishes.
 Did you know? 
Older Malaysians in rural areas may chew betel leaves and nuts. Betel acts as a mild stimulant like caffeine, but tends to stain the teeth and gums.


The cuisine in Sabah is influenced by the Kadazans, the largest ethnic group in the region. Many dishes call for mango, such as sup terjun (jumping soup), which is made of salted fish, mango and ginger. The cuisine of Melaka and Penang is called Nyonya. The dishes often use seafood and have been influenced by Chinese Malaysian cooking. Nyonya foods include kapitan, chicken cooked in coconut milk, and otak otak, fish and spices steamed in a banana leaf.

 Malaysia has many farmer's markets, called pasar tani, and night markets, pasar malam, where people buy fresh agricultural produce. In the cities, people can buy ready-made soup, stir-fried dishes and seafood from street vendors called hawkers. Hawker stalls often stay open late into the night.

Many Malaysians enjoy an unusual fruit called a durian. It is as large as a melon and covered with thorns. Inside the fruit is like custard. Some people dislike the smell, but others find the durian delicious.

 Tea is grown in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. Malaysians may buy tea from Mamak-men, who are famed for teh tarik (pulled tea), a tradition of pouring tea from one cup to another across a distance of about a metre, to cool it.


 1 kg tender beef, boneless chicken or turkey breast 
2 stalks of lemongrass, thinly sliced, or 2 tsp powdered lemongrass
1 medium onion, cut into pieces
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. sugar
small bamboo skewers


 Cut the meat into small pieces, about 1.5 x 2 cm. Blend together lemongrass, onion and garlic, and chop using an electric mixer until fine. Add mixture to the meat with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and let stand for 1-2 hours (overnight for best results). Skewer the meat pieces, about 4 to 5 pieces per skewer, leaving no space between each piece. Grill and serve with peanut sauce, rice, sliced cucumber and onion.