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5 Indian dishes doing rounds in Malaysia with a twist!

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Image source: https://www.travelmood.ie/

Malaysia: Roti canai, nasi kandar, Maggi goreng, pasembur and putu mayam are some of the many items that you’ll find at a ‘Mamak’ restaurant in Malaysia, cuisines that have their ‘base’ in India.

The contribution of the Indian community to Malaysian cuisine is enormous. Indian cuisine has had a strong influence on traditional Malay cuisine resulting in the popularity of curries in Malaysia. Indian restaurants are well received by Malaysians from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. They have become an important fixture in everyday Malaysian life and are the venue of choice for watching live televised football matches.

Mamak restaurants and stalls refer to eateries owned and staffed by Indian Muslims. The word ‘Mamak’ is sometimes erroneously used to describe any Indian restaurant.

Unlike Indian cuisine in the United Kingdom and other Western countries which tend to focus on North Indian cuisine, Indian cuisine in Malaysia is largely based on South Indian cuisine as the Malaysian Indian diaspora is overwhelmingly Tamil, although some northern dishes such as tandoori chicken and naan bread are common. Southern breakfast delicacies such as idli, vadai and dosa (spelt in Malaysia as ‘thosai‘) are common.

Here are a few Indian dishes unique to Malaysia…

Roti canai

canai

Traditionally, roti canai is served with dhal (lentil curry) or any type of curry, such as mutton or chicken curry. However, the versatility of roti canai as the staple lends itself to many variations, either savoury or sweet, with a variety of toppings and fillings, which includes eggs, banana, sardines and onion. In Thailand, it is usually served sweet – typical fillings include condensed milk, peanut butter, jam and Nutella, without the curry.

Nasi kandar

Image source: wordpress.com
Image source: wordpress.com

It is a meal of steamed rice which can be plain or mildly flavoured and served with a variety of curries and side dishes. The word nasi kandar, came about from a time when nasi hawkers or vendors would balance a kandar pole on their shoulder with two huge containers of rice meals. The name has remained and today the word nasi kandar is seen on most Tamil Muslim or ‘Malaysian Mamak’ restaurants and Indian-Muslim stall meals. Nasi kandar is sold exclusively in Indian Muslim restaurants and the recipes are closely guarded secrets.

Maggi Goreng

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Image source: wordpress.com

Maggi Goreng is a style of cooking instant noodles, in particular, the Maggi product range, which is common in Malaysia. It is commonly served at Mamak food stalls in Malaysia. The traditional way of cooking Maggi noodles is to boil them in hot water and then to add a sachet of flavouring included with the noodles to the water to create stock. However,Maggi Goreng is cooked by stir-frying them with vegetables and eggs. Sometimes, other ingredients such as tofu, sambal (spicy chilli relish), dark soy, and sometimes meat are added. A slice of lime is usually placed at the side of the plate as a garnish. Users also can add an additional flavour such as curry powder or any readily made paste to enhance the flavour.

Pasembur (Mamak rojak)

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Image source: wordpress.com

Pasembur is a Malaysian salad consisting of cucumber (shredded), potatoes, bean curd, turnip, bean sprouts, prawn fritters, spicy fried crab, fried octopus or other seafood and served with a sweet and spicy nut sauce. The term pasembur is peculiar to Northern Peninsular Malaysia. It is especially associated with Penang where pasembur can be had along Gurney Drive. In other parts of Malaysia, the term Mamak rojak is commonly used.

Putu Mayam

Image source: wordpress.com
Image source: wordpress.com

The appam is a favourite breakfast dish in Tamil homes. Idiyappam is known as putu mayam in Malay and usually sold by mobile motorcycle vendors. The process for making putu mayam (also known as string hoppers in English) consists of mixing rice flour or idiyappam flour with water and/or coconut milk and pressing the dough through a sieve to make vermicelli-like noodles. These are steamed, usually with the addition of juice from the aromatic pandan leaf (screwpine) as flavouring. The noodles are served with grated coconut and jaggery, or, preferably, gur (date palm sugar). In some areas, gula melaka(coconut palm sugar) is the favourite sweetener.

(The article was originally published in indiaatlargeblog.wordpress.com)

Next Story

Heard of Tandoori Momos? : Tibetan Refugees Contribute to Indian Cuisine

The Tandoori Momos have become so popular in the Indian cuisine thanks to the contributions of Tibetan Refugees

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Tandoor Momos
Momos. Wikimedia
  • The momos are a delicious contribution to the Indian street food
  • Given an Indian touch, the Tandoori Momos have gained popularity very rapidly
  • Some even call this soft power strategy branding it as a threat to Indian culture

July 12, 2017: The Indian public loves Tandoori Momos but that is due to the  Tibetan Refugees, who sheltered in India and have successfully added the dish to the Indian cuisine.

It is not clear if momos are exclusive to Tibetan tradition considering the strong influence that China has exerted in the region. It is more likely a Chinese tradition if we look at the wider Dim-Sum categories.

Momos was a cheap dish, making it favourite among the peasants. Made of flour, meat, and local spices, the momos became a part of every common household.

The Dalai Lama’s entry to India in 1959 in search of a new home (in the form of Dharamshala) brought with it a few Tibetans. A sizeable number more penetrated in the 1960s. Not surprisingly, the Indian government that was accommodating refugees from other different states also welcomed the Tibetan people with housing.

ALSO READ: “Do not Stand and Drink Water” : Here is Why it is often said so!

Slowly, the diaspora came to the capital Delhi, providing them with an opportunity to set up road side stalls to sell their special artifacts and decors, particularly Janpath which is a busy street.

The diaspora was now in Delhi, continuously shifting towards east and northeast. They saw the Punjabi idea of food becoming the quickest way of recognition and interaction. Momos, as it seems, were easy to make roadside. Pork was added upon entering into Calcutta.

By the 1980s when its popularity peaked, other cultures like Bengalis, Nepalis, and Khasis entered the momo-making business.

It soon became like the present situation today. Momo sellers could be spotten in every Delhi market. Outside colleges, offices, bus stands, everywhere.

Once again, momo business started growing again, even entering the region of Jammu and Kashmir.

It so happened recently that a BJP legislator, Ramesh Arora, organized a protest against momos even going till the extent of branding the food “more dangerous than alcohol or psychotopic drugs” as the teenagers are getting hooked on to it.

ALSO READ: Food Lovers: Indulge in Gluttony this Dim Sum Festival in Maharashtra

According to www.scmp.com report, Mr. Arora and co. actually feel that the momos are a threat to the Indian culture and cuisine, and that the dish is a soft power strategy of China (unaware of the fact that dumplings is more closely associated with India than China).

The protests were carried out with slogans and signs such as “Momo- the silent killer”. Going one step further, in the only air time that he is expected to get in his lifetime, Arora tried warning the nation that Chinese cuisine causes cancer of the intestine!

Demonstrations and protests, as it seems, can emerge out of nothing and for absolutely nothing. This cruelty to momos was watched by thousands who took it as a part of the daily media coverage, only with hilarity.

– prepared By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394