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The MalaysianFood.net 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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also called Ubi Sengkuang [Malay], Sah Kot [Chinese], Yam Bean, Mexican Turnip

Jicama. A white fleshed root vegetable with brown skin. It is crunchy and juicy, and the taste varies from bland to quite sweet. It can used fresh in salads or stewed in a dish e.g. Popiah [Stewed Jicama wrapped in Rice Paper].




Barley. Available dried, is often boiled with water and sugar for a a refreshing beverage. Barley is supposed to cool the body system, thus making it an ideal drink for hot tropical places, or summertime.


Bawang Bakung

Sheen [Chinese]

Sesame Seeds.


Bawang Kucai

Kai Choy [Chinese], Poondu Thazhai [Tamil], Garlic Chives

Garlic chives.


Bawang Merah

Choong Tau Chai [Chinese], Vengayam [Tamil]

Shallots, sometimes called Small Red Onions.


Bawang Putih

Suen Tau [Chinese], Vellai Poondu [Tamil]


Serbuk Bawang Putih : Garlic Powder



Heen Choy [Chinese], Mulai Kererai [Tamil]

Spinach, sometimes called Indian Spinach.



Meehoon [spelling], Mei Fun, Mai Fun [Chinese], Iddiappam, [Tamil], Pancit [Phillipines]

Chinese for Rice Vermicelli. Thin white noodles made from rice flour. Almost always sold dried. To use, soak in water until just al dente. It can be stir fried, or added to a soup with meat, seafood or vegetables.



Wong Sean [Chinese], Vilange Meen [Tamil]




Blacan, Balachan, Blachen [spelling], Terasi or Trasi [Indonesia], Kapi or Kapee [Thailand], Malaccan Cheese, Dried Shrimp Paste

Tiny shrimp brine is sun-dried, aged, processed and shaped into rectangular blocks or cakes. It has a distinctive smell but usually mellows out in the cooking. A necessary ingredient in many authentic Malaysian, Indonesian or Thai dishes. It may be used raw in a rempah [spice paste] for cooking curries and other dishes, or roasted if using to make a fresh sambal or condiment.

Sambal Belacan : A paste or sauce made with ground fresh red hot chili peppers combined with roasted belacan, and sometimes a squeeze of fresh lime juice. It can be used as a condiment, or as an ingredient in cooking.



Horsefoot Crab

Horseshoe Crab, commonly, and misleadingly, called King Crab. It is not the same crab as the giant King Crab, also called Alaskan King Crab.

The Horseshoe Crab is not really a crab. It is related to scorpions and land spiders, and has its own classification [Merostomata]. In many parts of the world, like the Delaware coastline or the New Jersey shore in the USA, these sea creatures are considered a menace, especially during the breeding season when they come ashore by the thousands .

For some epicureans (like us!); the eggs, the only edible part of the horseshoe crab, are considered a delicacy.




 Any type or variety of rice that is raw or uncooked.



Mok Kwa [Chinese], Pappali Palam [Tamil]

Papaya. It is often eaten after a meal because of its digestive properties. It is a natural tenderizer for meats.



Chee Ma [Chinese], Ellu [Tamil], Gingelly

Sesame Seeds.


Biji Sawi

Yee Dhaan [Chinese], Kadugu Talai [Tamil]

Mustard Seeds.



Blood Tofu, Blood Cake, Soondae [Korea]

The fresh blood of duck or pig and sometimes chicken, is mixed with salt water and allowed to congeal. After congealing, it has a custard-like texture and is usually cut into large cubes and cooked. It is used in Chinese cooking in a stir fry with other ingredients, or as a garnish in noodle dishes e.g. Penang Curry Mee [Penang Curry Noodles]. In some European countries, blood is used to make sausages [Blood Pudding or Black Pudding] or stews [Dinuguan, a Filipino dish].



Palam [Tamil]

A general term for Fruit.

Buah Ara : Dates. Hoong Choh [Chinese], Pericham Palam [Tamil]
Buah Badam : Almond. Hung Ngan [Chinese], Badam Kottai [Tamil]
Buah Cheri : Cherry. Cheh Lee [Chinese], Palavagai [Tamil]
Buah Delima : Pomegranate. Sek Low [Chinese], Mathalam Palam [Tamil]
Buah Lembing : Nutmeg. Yeong Toh [Chinese], Nachatra Palam [Tamil]
Buah Lye : Pear. Sar Lai [Chinese], Perikai [Tamil]
Buah Mankisa : Passion fruit.
Buah Mentaga : Avocado. Ley [Chinese]
Buah Pala : Nutmeg. Tau Khau [Chinese], Jadhikai [Tamil]
Buah Pelaga : Cardamom. Wok Lok Wuat [Chinese], Yela Kaii [Tamil]


Buah Keras

Sek Kor Chye [Chinese], Sathikai [Tamil], KuKui [Hawaii], Indian Walnut

Candle Nut. It has a very hard shell and usually sold with the shells removed. The cream colored kernel is about the size of a chestnut. A natural thickening agent, the use of this waxy nut is to give body and richness to a curry or sauce. Crush or pound in a mortar & pestle, or grate finely. Use in cooking. Do not eat or use raw.


Buah Pinggang

Yew [Chinese], Pukkam [Tamil]


Buah Pinggang Babi : Pig Kidney. Chee Yew [Chinese], Pandi Pukkam [Tamil]




Bubur Nasi : Rice Porridge. Moey, Chok or Congee [Chinese]
Bubur Gandum : Wheat Porridge




Fish Sauce, Nam Pla [Thailand], Patis [Phillipines]

A fermented sauce similar to soy sauce, made with fish. Although it is not particularly prevalent in Malaysian cooking, it is however popular in Malaysia's north-eastern region. It is used, like salt for seasoning, in Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian cooking. It is also used as a condiment on it own, or combined with other ingredients such as chopped chilies, shallots, garlic or herbs for dipping.


Bunga Kantan

Pink Ginger, Torch Ginger, Keong Fa [Chinese], Kaalaa [Hindi]

Ginger Flower. The flower bud of the pink ginger. It has a refreshing fragrance, used to enhance the flavors of many local dishes. The bud can be used whole, like lemongrass stalks, in cooking. It can also be finely chopped and sprinkled raw, like fresh herbs, to garnish dishes. e.g. Penang Asam Laksa [Noodles in Spicy Fish Soup]


Bunga Lawang

Pak Kok [Chinese], Perung Chiram [Tamil]

Star Anise.


Bunga Telang


Small blue flowers of a creeper type plant. The flowers are picked in large quantities, and dried in the sun. A good amount has to be blanched in hot water for it's natural blue dye, used mainly in desserts and cakes [Kuih or Kueh].


Burung Puyuh

Um Chun [Chinese]

Quail. A popular game bird available in most Indian-Muslim eateries called 'Nasi Kandar' restaurants. The quails are usually spiced and deep fried. Burung is the general term for Bird.

Telur Burung Puyuh : Quail Egg. Um Chun Tan [Chinese]


Burung Unta



Telur Burung Unta : Ostrich Egg.


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