LikeThe Malaysian Food Glossary

















The GlossaryThis glossary is mainly in Malay i.e. Bahasa Malaysia. However, many food ingredients or terms are better known in local Chinese or Indian dialects. This is because of Malaysia's multi-ethnic population, and its culturally diverse cuisine and cooking styles. Certain ingredients are used exclusively, or more frequently in different ethnic kitchens, while some foods may be forbidden due to religious beliefs. Wherever possible, spelling variations, similar names in English, or in other countries nearby and afar, shall also be included in the glossary.


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Pickles. It can also refer to a Relish or Chutney.

Acar Ikan : Pickled Fish.



also spelt Abalone in [Malay], Pow Yee [Chinese], Awabi [Japan], Paua [New Zealand]

Abalone. This delicacy is savored (usually in a restaurant) in a banquet or formal dinner celebrating a momentous or auspicious occasion.


Agar agar

Tan Choy [Chinese], Akkaraka [Tamil]

Jelly or Gelatin derived from seaweed. Strands of dried 'transparent' seaweed, that look like plastic raffia strings, are available packaged in small bundles. To use, soak in water for 10-15 minutes, bring to a gentle boil, then simmer while stirring until it is completely dissolved. Add sugar, sweet condensed milk or honey to sweeten. Coconut milk [Santan] or fruit may also be added. As it cools, even at room temperature, it will gel or set much firmer in texture than most jelly.



Soi [Chinese], Yam Bean, Mexican Turnip

Water. It can also refer to a 'Juice'.

Air Batu / Ais : Ice.
Air Buah
: Fruit Juice.
Air Limau : Lemon Juice.
Air Limau Kesturi : Kalamansi Lime Juice.



also called Air Batu in [Malay]


Ais Krim : Ice Cream.


Akar Teratai

Lin Ngau [Chinese], Thamarai Ver [Tamil]

Lotus Root. The root, when sliced has a beautiful pattern. It is often used in soups.



also called Minuman Keras in [Malay]




Poh Tai Chee [Chinese], Theratchai Palam [Tamil]


Anggur Merah : Red Grapes.
Anggur Hijau : Green Grapes.




Anak Angsa : Gosling.



Hung Toh [Chinese], Athip Palam [Tamil]


Aprikot Kering : Dried Apricot.



Liquor, Wine

Shaoxing or Chinese Cooking Wine is the wine most commonly used when a dish requires wine in its recipe. Cognac, preferably Cognac X.O. is the liquor of choice for use in some Chinese gourmet dishes. Cognac or Brandy is often used to set the traditional Christmas Pudding ablaze at Christmas time.


Arang Batu




Arang Kayu


Wood Charcoal. Easily available and economical, all grilling or barbecuing is almost always done with natural wood charcoal.



Toh Chye [Chinese], Muyal [Tamil]




also Masin in [Malay], Hum, Kiam [Chinese], Uppu [Tamil]

Salty or Salted.

Telur Asin : Salted or Preserved Egg. Umchun Pei Tan [Chinese].
Sayur Asin : Salted or Preserved Vegetable. Hum Choy, Kiam Chye [Chinese], Uppu Keerai [Tamil].


Asam Jawa

Assam Jawa [spelling], Assam Koh [Chinese], Pullee [Tamil], Ma Kam Piek [Thailand]

A fruit of the tamarind tree. The pulp inside the tamarind pod, is used as a souring ingredient in cooking. The extracted pulp is boiled or soaked in hot water, strained to discard any seeds and fibers, to obtain a juice, commonly called Tamarind Water. It is sour in taste, but with subtle hints of sweetness like dates or dried apricots. Asam Jawa is used mostly for fish and seafood, adding a citric piquancy to fish curries, shrimp and seafood stews and soups e.g. Asam Laksa [Noodles in Tangy Fish Soup]



Kai [Chinese], Koli [Tamil]



Ayam Kampung

Village Chicken or Free-range Chicken

These are free roaming chickens raised in villages, the result of natural cross breeding with Red Jungle Fowl, an original specimen still roaming the deep jungles of Malaysia and South East Asia to this day. Chickens that have been allowed to roam freely, especially in jungles bordering villages, are likely to include bloodlines of jungle specimens and domesticated chicken. Some classic Malay dishes can only taste right with Ayam Kampung [Village Chicken] e.g. Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Padi [Chicken cooked in coconut milk with Thai Bird Chilies].


Ayam Belanda

Foh Kai [Chinese], Vankoli [Tamil]

Turkey. This poultry is a tradition on the dinner table, roasted whole, for many who celebrate Thanksgiving (USA) or Christmas.


Ayam Mutiara


Guinea Fowl or Guinea Hen. A game bird in the same family as quail, pheasant, grouse and turkey.



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