Malay Cuisine by Rasa Magazine


Being raised in a culture where Malays are the majority population has greatly influenced to my taste buds. The desire for a quick fix will not go unattended whenever it strikes, as I will make my way to follow the ensuing wonderful aroma of the rich blended flavours of coconut milk, spices, chili, lemongrass, onion and garlic. The generous usage of coconut milk in most dishes makes the Malay cuisine different from the Indian’s and it also THE factor that I am drawn to.


Image taken from Rasa – Menu Rumah Terbuka, edisi 146, September 2013, page 106.

The Malays

Malays (Malay: Melayu Jawi: ملايو) are an ethnic group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra, southernmost parts of Thailand, south coast Burma, island of Singapore, coastal Borneo including Brunei, West Kalimantan, and coastal Sarawak and Sabah, and the smaller islands which lie between these locations – that collectively known as the Alam Melayu.

These locations today are part of the modern nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Burma and Thailand. There is considerable genetic, linguistic, cultural, and social diversity among the many Malay subgroups, mainly due to hundreds of years of immigration and assimilation of various regional ethnicity and tribes within Maritime Southeast Asia.

The advent of Melaka Sultanate in the 15th century had triggered a major revolution to Malay history, with significance lies in its far-reaching political and cultural legacy. Common definitive markers of a Malay identity – Islam, Malay language and traditions – are thought to have been promulgated during this era, resulting the ethnogenesis of Malay, as a major ethnoreligious group in the region.

In literature, architecture, culinary traditions, traditional dress, performing arts, martial arts, and royal court traditions, Melaka set a standard that later Malay sultanates emulated. The golden age of Malay sultanates in Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo saw many, particularly from various tribal communities like Batak, Dayak, Orang Asli and Orang laut became subject of Islamisation and Malayisation.

Today, some Malays have recent forbears from other parts Maritime Southeast Asia, termed as anak dagang (“traders”) and predominantly consisted of Javanese, Bugis, Minangkabau and Acehnese peoples, while some are also descended from more recent immigrants from other countries.

Throughout their history, Malays are known as a coastal-trading community with a fluid cultural characteristics. They absorbed numerous cultural features of other ethnic groups, such as those of Minang, Acehnese, and to some degree Javanese culture; however it differs by being more overtly Islamic than the Javanese culture which is more multi-religious.

Ethnic Malays is also the major source of the ethnocultural development of the related Betawi, Banjar and Peranakan cultures, as well as the development of Malay trade and creole languages like Ambonese Malay, Baba Malay, Betawi Malay and Manado Malay.


With some knowledge on the background of the ethnic Malay, one will understand why there is diversity even within the Malay cuisine itself. Therefore I wish to share some goodness with you.

…. as excited as I can be, here it is… *ta-dah* …


This magazine, “Rasa” (meaning, taste) is one of the publication from Karangkraf. It is an issue for September 2013, priced at RM 9.50.

If you are a fan of Malay cuisine and having not enough of it, this magazine should not slip through your fingers. It’s a must reference in the kitchen! There are plenty of recipes can makes one drool… slurp!

Below are a few teasers.


Image taken from Rasa – Menu Rumah Terbuka, edisi 146, September 2013, page 141


Image taken from Rasa – Menu Rumah Terbuka, edisi 146, September 2013


Image taken from Rasa – Menu Rumah Terbuka, edisi 146, September 2013, page 144

But before I continue further, a little bad news to those who are not familiar with the Malay language – the entire magazine is in Malay. Looks like you need to get someone to translate it for you if ever you decide to buy any of their magazine.


Image taken from Rasa – Menu Rumah Terbuka, edisi 146, September 2013, page 199


Image taken from Rasa – Menu Rumah Terbuka, edisi 146, September 2013, page 208

It’s too bad language can be a barrier, hopefully the publication would consider releasing an English version.

As for now, it is a magazine caters to the Malay community in Malaysia or for those who are Malay literate. This magazine is available on monthly subscription basis. You can also acquire them from your nearby magazine sellers.

Do give their recipes a try, they could be the right one for you.

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