The cuisine of Malaysia reflects the country’s multiethnic culture and population. It has its distinct taste, which is a fusion of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. Malaysian dishes are known for their distinct flavor and aroma. For example, the national dish—called Nasi Lemak—is a fragrant recipe that uses rice, coconut milk, and pandan leaf. Other Malaysian dishes like fried rice, curry puffs, and mee goreng all use spices liberally, too. Below are some of the most important Malaysian spices:
Chili – Chili is made from processed dried red chili peppers. They come in coarse and fine variants, and your choice should depend on the dish you want to cook.
Black pepper – Made from pepper berries that are half ripe, black pepper lends a pungent, warm, and woody taste to Malaysian cuisine.
White pepper – Just like black pepper, white pepper comes from black pepper corns. The difference between the two goes beyond color. White pepper has a more mellow taste.
Cinnamon – More commonly used for desserts in Western countries, cinnamon powder is added to main dishes in Malaysian cuisine. Cinnamon comes from cassia trees and lends a woody yet sweet aroma.
Coriander – Used for both savory and sweet Malaysian dishes, coriander, is essential for making gravies and curries.
Cumin – Be sure to use cumin powder sparingly. This spice has a very rich flavor, offering earthy, sharp, and slightly bitter tones as well as a persistent pungency.
Fennel – Known for its medicinal properties, fennel is a flavorful and highly aromatic.
Nutmeg – This spice is known for its strong aromatic smell and unique flavor. It can be used in grated or grounded form,
Mace – Made from the nutmeg’s exterior coat, mace is an important ingredient for the preservation of meats and fishes.
Poppy seed - This ingredient is used not just to add flavor to dishes but also to create texture and thickness.