4 Malaysian recipes you must try

Rustle up something extra tasty for dinner with these four great recipes from Malaysia.

Food & Drink
05 March 2014

1. Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak. (Dreamstime)


Bruise the lemongrass stick with a rolling pin or mallet until pliable, then tie into a knot. Place the rice, coconut milk, turmeric, salt, shallot, lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger in a large, deep pan and pour in enough cold water to cover by 3cm. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 4 minutes, before turning the heat down to a simmer and cooking for a further 6 minutes. Leave to rest, covered, for another 10 minutes. Discard the lime leaves, lemongrass, and ginger before serving with sambal and the selection listed below.

Serves 6


1 lemongrass stick
500g jasmine rice, washed and drained
250ml coconut milk
1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 x 3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2. Sambal ikan bilis


In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, grind the chillies, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and sugar until you have a paste. In a wok or frying pan, fry the anchovies in the oil until dark and crisp. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain. Discard most of the oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Fry the ground paste quickly in the oil, stirring, for two minutes. Add the onion and cook for another two minutes. Add the tamarind paste and a little salt; taste and adjust the sugar and salt: it should clearly salty, sweet, hot and sour, as well as spicy. Return the anchovies and cook until the sambal is thick dark brown.

Serve with: cold roast fish, peeled and sliced cucumber, hard-boiled eggs, roasted or fried peanuts, deep-fried banana, fried ikan bilis/anchovies.


150g red chillies, finely chopped, including seeds
4 garlic cloves
4 shallots
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
50g dried anchovies
100ml vegetable oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tsp tamarind pulp, mixed with water to make a paste

3. Clam laksa

Malaysian seafood laksa. (Shutterstock)


Place the chillies, galangal, onion and lemongrass in a pestle and mortar or a food processor and grind to a paste before stirring in the shrimp paste and spices.

Heat the oil in a large deep pan and add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until soft, then stir in the shrimp paste. Turn the heat down to low and cook the paste, stirring constantly until it begins to smell fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on it at this stage as you don’t want to overcook it.

Turn the heat up high, then stir in the clams so that they are completely covered in paste. Pour in the diluted coconut milk and cover tightly with a lid. Leave to cook for 3 minutes until the clams have all opened.

Place your cooked noodles into warmed bowls and spoon over the laksa. Tear over the coriander and season with a little fish sauce.

Serves 4


4 red chillies, finely chopped
60g galangal, peeled and finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 lemongrass sticks, outer layer removed
1 tbsp black shrimp paste
1 ½ tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp red chilli powder
100ml vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
200ml coconut milk, diluted with 100ml water
800g clams, cleaned
Rice noodles, to serve
Coriander leaves, to serve
Fish sauce, to serve

4. Fish head curry

Fish head curry. (Dreamstime)


Heat a generous amount splash of oil to a large pan and fry the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the curry leaves, followed by the spices. Cook for a further 3 minutes until fragrant.

Strain the tamarind into the pan, discarding the solids. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until slightly thickened.

Turn the heat up to high, then add the fish heads to the pan along with the okra and a little water. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the fish is almost cooked. Season with a little sugar, salt and lime juice until you have the perfect sweet and sour balance, then stir in the tomato and serve with rice.

Serves 4


Vegetable oil
2 red onions, sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 big handfuls of fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp fenugreek, ground
½ tsp turmeric
3 whole dried red chillies
A pinch of chilli powder
3 tbsp tamarind pulp, mixed with 250ml warm water
4 fish heads, cleaned in cold water
2 handfuls of small okra
Palm or brown sugar, to season
Juice of 2 limes
2 tomatoes, chopped
Jasmine rice, to serve

Explore More

More Articles