Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Other Malaysian Eats

Let's start with breakfast. We were totally addicted to roti canai, a flaky bread served with a curry dip, varying in spiciness. We craved this daily, and washed down with a frothy teh tarik (tea made with sweet condensed milk) it was an ideal start to the day.

Banana leaf curries were common. Walking along a busy main road, we ducked inside a grimy-looking cafe, only to be served one of the best curries of the trip. Sweet sticky chicken drumsticks, dolloped with a ladle of spicy curried green beans, lightly spiced cabbage and rice served from long silver containers. I was less impressed with the lizard that ran up my leg, causing me to scream like a total girl.

Murtabak, eaten here at the night market in Kota Bharu, were egg-laden treats. We watched mesmerised as the maker flipped out the roti dough nice and thinly, and on it went to the hot plate to be spread with whipped eggs and a curry mixture, folded, folded and folded again until hot and crisp.

It sounds like a rude word, but in fact Popiah are like a cross between spring rolls and the Vietnamese summer rolls. Amongst the best street food we sampled, I watched as the lady warmed up a wafer-thin crepe wrapper, spread it with a hoi-sin like sweet sauce, before piling on shreds of daikon and some scrambled tofu.

Chilli sauce seasoned each mouthful, and it was a delight to chow down on a mixture of soft wrapper, crunchy vegetable and piquant and sweet sauces. To my distress, they seem almost impossible to replicate at home unless you're a master of dough. I am not.

Desserts came in the form of small bowls, often flavoured with coconut and riddled with beans or jelly-like textures. The most famous, Cendol, was made with shaved ice, coconut cream, caramel, threads of flour-based noodle flavoured with pandan and sweet kidney beans. It was icy and surprisingly refreshing.

Weirdest dish of the trip was perhaps 'Tandoori Kashmir Chicken'. A naan bread, topped with tandoori chicken and watermelon, banana, apple, and cashew nuts. Like a big chickeny fruit salad.

14 comments:

Mr Noodles said...

Food in London can seem monochrome after reading posts like these. In particular, the capital can do with some places that knock up proper roti and murtabak.

Helen said...

JELS! Looks aces. A lizard ran up your leg. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh em gee. Nabeel really loves that t-shirt doesn't he?! It's a corker I have to say.

tori said...

Oh. Roti canai. Last time I went to Malaysia I put on 3 kilos. Every single gram of that was owed to roti. Impossible to get enough of the good stuff. Sounds like an amazing trip...

Joshua said...

Brings back so many memories. When I officially have family there I guess I'll have to go often, which isn't much of a chore when you get to eat like that.

Been meaning to blog canai and murtabak, maybe this will get me around to it.

May said...

That was what I was having for breakfast when I was in KL recently too. Miss it.

Kay @ Chopstix2Steaknives said...

Seeing all that really make me miss all the street food and hawker stalls everywhere! Yuummm.....
Did you manage to try garlic and cheese nan that you dip and eat with condensed milk?

Su-Lin said...

I am so hungry now! I so miss banana leaf rice.

Just to say that it's not daikon in the popiah but stewed jicama (aka yam bean).

Helen. said...

I was staying with my brother in Malaysia when I had my 23rd birthday. He told me to choose any restaurant in Kuala Lumpur for my birthday dinner, expecting me to choose somewhere high up in a posh, shiny hotel. But no, I chose roti canai at the hawker market down the road. Best bloomin' birthday dinner I've ever had, and probably never to be bettered!

Has anyone found good roti canai in London?

Sharmila said...

I love roti canai so much. I have a recipe for it, but I bet I will never be able to get it as thin and gorgeously flakey as a proper roti maker.

shayma said...

all of those photos look utterly delicious- the roti canai one being my favourite. you must have had such an amazing time, Lizzie. am so jealous. xo shayma

Gourmet Chick said...

Loving these Malaysia posts Lizzie - sounds like you had an amazing trip and you have given me serious roti canai cravings.

Sunflower said...

Lucky devil all that lovely food. Many my favourites. Did you try lacy pancake (roti jala)/or pressed rice with rendang from the motherland?

Con-fusedArts said...

Wow! Lived in Sabah for nearly a year and loved the food. Fish balls were yummy, bah ku teh (duck) was gorgeous. nasi and mee goreng was great as well. Really miss the food and its been 5 years now?

Eva said...

I've been to Malaysia twice and LOVED it. I posted about my effort to be steered away from food catering to Westerners: http://inthekitchenwitheva-eva.blogspot.com/2010/07/food-notes-from-kuala-lumpur-malaysia.html

Also, there's a great, cheap restaurant in Bayswater that features food from the Straits of Malacca. I go every time I'm in London:

http://inthekitchenwitheva-eva.blogspot.com/2010/06/eating-in-london.html

Keep up the great work with the blog!