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Thai and Malaysian? What are their differences?

cadireon Nov 3, 2006 03:48 PM

To me, it's all related. But common sense tells me that it's possibly completely different. My question is, HOW?

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: cadireon Nov 3, 2006 04:28 PM

    Malaysian cuisine is a cross-pollination of indigenous Malay cuisine (which is closely related to Javanese) with the cuisines of Indian and Chinese immigrants. It includes both traditional dishes or variations thereon from all three, and fusion dishes.

    The Thai dish masaman curry could pass for Malaysian.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      limster RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 4, 2006 05:26 AM

      Native Malay cooking is a lot closer to the cooking in Padang than Java, although some of the more popular dishes from Java e.g. fried chicken, have diffused over. Nasi Padang (nasi=rice) is a common name for a genre of Malay food (curries are common) that is served with rice.

    2. r
      royal bisquit RE: cadireon Nov 3, 2006 05:27 PM

      Here is a great article talking about the nonya cuisine of malaysia, which comes from chinese immigrants adapting to the local ingredients.


      My favorite malaysian meal is a breakfast of teh tarik, a super sweet milky tea, along with roti canai, a flaky and chewy bread, similar to an indian parantha, which is served with a spicey curry sauce. This comes from the Indian immigrants to Malaysia.

      1. Robert Lauriston RE: cadireon Nov 3, 2006 05:37 PM

        When I eat Thai food, I usually feel like I've had an exceptionally healthy meal.

        When I eat Malaysian food, I go nuts on the coconut and feel like I've had about 20,000 calories.

        It's probably my personal taste rather than the cuisines.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          royal bisquit RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 3, 2006 06:27 PM

          That's true. Malaysian food is defintely on the heavy side, and can be pretty greasy at times. Last time i was in malaysia we ate almost entirely in indian places. but we had been in asia for a while and we ready for a change of flavors.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            Chowpatty RE: Robert Lauriston Nov 3, 2006 06:28 PM

            Although lots of Thai dishes contain coconut milk, particularly those from the south, which is closer to Malaysia, I think you're basically right. Malaysian food seems to incorporate more fried dishes, more sugar, more coconut and heavier sauces. Although I like Indonesian and Malaysian food every once in a while, I find Thai food far more complex and subtly spiced. I can't notice the subtle interplay of lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal and chiles in Malaysian food the way I do in Thai for example. I feel like a really good Thai restaurant might have a much larger and more varied menu, with more choices of meat dishes in particular. But of course this all might be because there are dozens if not hundreds of excellent Thai restaurants within 20 miles of my house, and only a few Malaysian, most serving simple homestyle fare. When I was in Malaysia, we ate a lot of Indian and Chinese food so I didn't get to taste a wide selection of purely Malaysian dishes.

            1. re: Chowpatty
              Pan RE: Chowpatty Nov 5, 2006 03:42 AM

              Go to Kota Bharu, the capital of Kelantan and close to the Thai border, to have complex, wonderful food that is very different from the equally delicious food served on the West Coast. Really good Ayam Percik is a very complex and delicious dish!

          2. i
            ianizukawa RE: cadireon Nov 3, 2006 07:15 PM

            Malaysia is famous for its hawkers foods, example chicken satay, Hailanese chicken rice and roti canai. A combination of three races of people, the Malays, Chinese and Indian plua a sub-culture called peranakans.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ianizukawa
              Robert Lauriston RE: ianizukawa Nov 3, 2006 07:20 PM

              Peranakan cuisine is usually called nyonya or nonya. Chinese-Malay fusion.

              1. re: ianizukawa
                limster RE: ianizukawa Nov 4, 2006 05:30 AM

                Peranakan cooking is largely a mixture of Hokkien and native Malay cooking; a good number of the dishes e.g. chap chye (mixed vegetables, literally) still retain their Hokkien names.

              2. limster RE: cadireon Nov 4, 2006 05:41 AM

                There's a distinction between Malaysian food (food found in Malaysia, which would be cooked by any of the ethnic groups there) and Malay food (food from the native Malays).

                Malaysian food is a superset, and will consist of all sorts of dishes from the Southern Chinese, Indians, and native Malays. Hawker chow. Some of the Chinese and Indian stalls will serve dishes that may not be exactly the same in India (e.g. mee goreng) or China (bah kut teh).

                The combination of spices differ slightly and are used differently between Thai and native Malay cooking. For example, lime leaves and Thai basil are a lot more prominent in Thai cooking and lemongrass has a greater tendency to stand alone rather than be integrated in a curry. Coconut milk is used more often in Malay cooking, ground chilli is more prominent, as is belachan, a fermented shrimp paste. Of course this isn't a comprehensive comparison by any means, but some rough impressions of what I find more obvious.

                1. JMF RE: cadireon Nov 4, 2006 04:09 PM

                  This is just a generality but Malaysian and Indonesian foods have a strong base in long and slow cooked and braised foods. Stews, curries, etc. Thai food is known for quick cooking styles that focus on the freshness of the produce.

                  1. p
                    Pan RE: cadireon Nov 5, 2006 03:44 AM

                    Thai and Malaysian food are both characterized by significant regional differences, with the food of Kelantan being much more similar to the food of the Malays in neighboring Thai provinces than to the food in West Coast cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Penang. And then there's East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), which is something else again.

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