Malaysia truly is a land of plenty. The country is endowed with beautiful beaches, invigorating highlands, verdant jungles teeming with flora and fauna, vibrant cities, charming countrysides and a spectrum of colourful cultures. Malaysia is an amalgamation of three major races, the Malay, Chinese and Indian, as well as a myriad of ethnic groups from Sabah and Sarawak. The potpourri is enriched further with the influence of the Thai, British and Portuguese cultures. This cultural diversity can be seen and experienced in many facets of Malaysian life, from its festivals and celebrations to its splendid array of mouth-watering food.
One interesting way to explore Malaysia is through its food. The culinary journey will give visitors an insight into the lifestyles, cultures and traditions of the people. Eating out is certainly a gastronomic adventure, as the food here ranges from aromatic Malay dishes, delectable Chinesedelicacies, to spicy Indian fare. Malaysia offers some of Asia’s finest cuisine, given the wide variety of cooking styles and cultural influences.
Food connoisseurs can rest assured that there are many exclusive restaurants that offer fine dining amidst a charming ambience. Alternatively, eat al-fresco at the open-air food courts. Urban areas abound with fast-food outlets, trendy cafés and delicatessens. In major cities with a cosmopolitan lifestyle such as Kuala Lumpur, visitors will find many restaurants serving international fare.
Malaysians enjoy eating at any time of the day – breakfast, lunch, teatime, dinner, supper and any time in between. The many festivals and celebrations call for a tantalising spread of food and delicacies. To sample some of the festive specialties, visitors can participate in the national-level open house celebrations held in conjunction with the festivals.
Malay cuisine is as interesting and extraordinary as its people. The culinary fare of the Malay community orginates from a diverse historical heritage. Influences from the Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Arabic and Chinese cooking styles have created a culinary legacy that is both distinct and exotic.
Chinese cuisine is widely popular in Malaysia. The appeal of Chinese food is due to its fresh ingredients, variety of cooking styles and easy availability. Aside from the influence of local cooking methods, the inherited culinary traditions of the Cantonese, Szechuan, Hokkien, Hakka, Teochew and Hainanese make Malaysian Chinese food one of the most tantalising and diverse.
The Indian culture, customs and cuisine have a strong foothold in Malaysia, ingrained over centuries of trading with the Malay Archipelago. The Indians have shared their robust spices with fellow Malaysians, and therefore enriching many local cuisines.
The fusion of cultures in Malaysia has led to the birth of a unique race. The Baba and Nyonya community, generally known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese, assimilate the Malay way of life especially in terms of speech, dressing and cooking, while preser ving the ancestral Chinese traditions. The colourful culture and customs of the Baba and Nyonya also has traces of Dutch, Por tuguese, British, Indian and Indonesian influences.
Centuries of European colonial conquests and intermarriages with the locals have given birth to a new community known as Malaysian Portuguese. The enticing fusion of the East and West is evident in many areas, such as customs, traditions, architecture, languages, arts and of course, cuisine.
Sabah and Sarawak are splendid destinations to enjoy majestic natural attractions, unique cultures as well as rare flora and fauna. With a population that is diverse and colourful, the various ethnic communities of Sabah and Sarawak bring to the table an endless buffet of exotic culinary delights.