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Flavors Of Malaysia: 15 Easy Malay Words

Are you looking for some of the most correct translations for words related to the flavors of Malaysia? Get to know all of these in this exclusive post today so that you can start engaging in conversations related to food and tasting. After all, what better way to authentically connect with the locals than having some food-trip session with them, right? If you are interested in that, then you’ve come to the right place! Read on below to know more about the Malaysian language.

Have you ever tasted Malaysian food? According to the National Restaurant Association, Malaysian cuisine was listed as one of the top three trending flavors of 2014. There are plenty of Malaysian chefs who made their name around the world by opening Malaysian restaurant businesses. Even if you ask Malaysians, what ties all of the citizens together, the answer is always the same: FOOD. So, yes, food and flavors always play a big role in the culture of the locals which is why there is no surprise why we have tons of recipes to offer!


Flavors Of Malaysia

Flavors Of Malaysia

In this post, we will focus on the seven major flavors including sweet, sour, sweet & sour, spicy, salty, bitter, and dry. Learn more about this in the next section below.

Sweet – Manis

Sweet in Malay is called manis (maa-nees). Just like in many other Asian countries like Thailand and the Philippines, Malaysians have a sweet tooth. There are quite many Malaysian desserts that focus on sweetness. Many Malay desserts like the Onde-Onde and Kuih Ketayap use a lot of Palm Sugar, which is called Gula Melaka (gula is sugar, Melaka is a state in Malaysia).

Here are some sweet Chinese and Indian cuisine you can find in Malaysia:

  • Soy Bean Custard (Tau Fu Fa) – Chinese dessert
  • Laddu – Indian Dessert
  • Roti Tisu – a very thin version of Roti Canai that is served with a drizzle of condensed milk. You can always order one at any Mamak restaurant in Malaysia.

Cooking-wise, Kelantan (a state in Malaysia) is famous across the globe for serving most of their dish sweeter compared to other places in Malaysia.

Sour – Masam

Since Malaysian cuisine combines many spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander and it is heavily influenced by Thai, Indian, and Chinese cuisine- having dishes that appreciate the sour taste.

Sour in Malay is called masam (maa-sum). Most Malaysian dishes that embody the sour taste use either lime or tamarind to bring out the taste. Some of the dishes are:

  • Ikan Masak Asam- can also be directly translated to sour cooked fish – which does not make sense in English. It is basically a sour fish soup, a famous Malay dish suitable for sick people.
  • Rasam – a soup that originated from South India. It is cooked with spices, herbs, veggies, and tamarind. Also good for colds and fever, but you can find it in many Mamak restaurants served in plastic jugs or flasks. You just have to ask for an empty cup to drink it.
  • Tomyam or Tom Yam – a famous Thai dish that is a favorite for many Malaysians. If you ever get the chance to visit Malaysia, you will probably notice how there are many (too many) Thai restaurants in Malaysia.

Sweet & Sour – Masam Manis

That also leads us to the next taste, sweet and sour. Sweet and sour dishes are famous in Malaysia due to Thai cuisine’s influence. Some of the dishes with sweet-sour flavor are as follows:

  • Ikan 3 Rasa, which translates to the three-flavored fish. The three flavors come from the sweet, sour, and spicy taste of the sauce that is served with fried fish- usually Sea Bass. A perfect family meal.
  • Ayam Masak Merah- you can call it Chicken in Red Sauce or Red Cooked Chicken. The main ingredient is the tomato paste used that gives out the sweet and sour taste. A popular dish on a Malay wedding menu.

Spicy – Pedas

Sure the Malaysians love spice and include many types of spices in their food. However, when I say pedas, I mean hot and spicy. People from Negeri Sembilan (a state in Malaysia) in particular loves everything hot and spicy.

  • Asam Pedas – Spicy Tamarind Fish. A sour, spicy, and tangy Malaysian fish soup that is served with white rice. It is widely known, especially around the Southeast Asian region. The spice and herbs included in the recipe are also good for health.
  • The best spicy Negeri Sembilan meal is white rice served with Ayam Masak Lemak, a Malaysian curry, bright yellow in color, that is made up of coconut milk with Bird’s Eye Chili. the word lemak can be translated to ‘fat’ or in this case, ‘creamy’.

Salty – Masin

One of the best Malaysian side dishes is Ikan Masin, which is salted fish. Salted fish is commonly fried and cooked in curry or gravy.

Bitter – Pahit

People usually stay away from any kind of bitter tasted food if they can help it. However, in Malaysia, it is common to eat ulam-ulaman, where they serve fresh edible leaves as a side dish, and most of these leaves are bitter in taste. Bitter in Malay is called pahit.

Dry – Kering

Dry is not exactly a flavor but even if having curry and gravy is a favorite of all Malaysians, There are some food that Malaysian’s cannot accept as having a gravy-like texture. Some food needs to be cooked until it has a dry texture and the most famous of this kind is the Rendang. Rendang is always in season when it comes to Raya celebrations. Chicken, beef, or mutton are some of the ingredients that are used to cook Rendang, including lemongrass- lots of it, shredded coconut, and other spices cooked until dry.

Flavor Related Words

Restoran / Kedai makanRestaurant

Want To Taste Authentic Malaysian Dishes?

Malaysians welcome you to try these unique flavors. They might sound like your everyday food, but trust me, there is truly something different with how the locals prepare it! Now it’s your turn… what specific Malaysian food are your favorites? Let us know in the comment section below.

All of these dishes are named in Malay, so you need to have basic Malay in your grasp to be able to order and eat your heart out. That’s why you need to download Ling App now and learn Malay. Ling App allows you to learn a language and build up your experience enough to be able to hold a conversation with a native speaker. It comes equipped with high-quality lessons, challenging activities, and quizzes that will surely reinforce your learning. So, what are you waiting for? Download Ling App now and learn a new language in the most efficient way today!


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