Malay-English Food Glossary

SpicesHave you ever wondered what lengkuas was? Don’t know your belacan from your bawang? Don’t worry! Hopefully this Malay food glossary will help you get the most our of your recipes!

Malaysian cuisine is the original fusion food! Malaysia has a diverse ethnic makeup, and whilst each ethnic group have their own distinct foods, many dishes in Malaysia are a fusion of multiple ethnic styles. Indigenous Malaysian food has been influenced by Chinese, Thai, Indian and many other cultures to produce an entirely new and rich cuisine.

Many Malaysian dishes revolve around a Rempah, which is a spice paste or mix similar to an Indian Masala. Rempahs are made by grinding up fresh and/or dried spices and herbs to create a spice paste which is then sauteed in oil to bring out the aromas.


Typical Malay Dishes

Perhaps you have heard of some of these typical Malaysian dishes:

  • Satay – These delicious skewered meats are a favourite of many and are perfect served with a fresh salad of cucumber and onion plus spicy peanut sauce!
  • Rendang – This dry coconut-based curry generally features beef gently simmered until tender with hot and tangy spices and cooling coconut milk.
  • Laksa – This is a noodle dish with a tasty and tangy fish soup which uses tamarind to great effect.


To make it easier to find what you need, you can click on the column headers to sort the table.

Malay-English Food Glossary

Asam GelugorTamarind PeelHerbs & Spices
Asam JawaTamarind PasteHerbs & Spices
Barwang BesarOnionFruit & Veg
Bawang MeraShallotsHerbs & Spices
Bawang PutihGarlicHerbs & Spices
BelacanShrimp PasteOther
BelachanShrimp PasteOther
BijanSesame SeedsBeans & Pulses
Bikji SaguPearl SagoBeans & Pulses
BlacanShrimp PasteOther
BlachanShrimp PasteOther
Bok NeeBlack FungusOther
Buah KeluakBlack NutBeans & Pulses
Buah KerasCandlenutBeans & Pulses
Buah PalaNutmegHerbs & Spices
Buah PelagaCardamomHerbs & Spices
Bunga CengkihClovesHerbs & Spices
Bunga LawangStar AniseHerbs & Spices
Cili PadiBird’s Eye ChilliesHerbs & Spices
CukaVinegarSauces & Oils
Daun KetumberCoriander LeavesHerbs & Spices
Daun Limau PerutKaffir Lime LeafHerbs & Spices
Daun Limau PurutKaffir Lime LeafHerbs & Spices
Duan PandanScrewpine LeafHerbs & Spices
Gula MelakaPalm SugarOther
HaliaGinger RootHerbs & Spices
JagungCornFruit & Veg
Jintan ManisFennelHerbs & Spices
Jintan PutihCuminHerbs & Spices
Kacang BendiLadies Fingers (Okra)Fruit & Veg
Kacang DalLentilsFruit & Veg
Kacang HijauGreen Mung BeansBeans & Pulses
Kayu ManisCinnamonHerbs & Spices
KemiriCandlenutsBeans & Pulses
KetumbarCoriander SeedsHerbs & Spices
Kicap CairLight Soya SauceSauces & Oils
Kicap ManisSweet Soya SauceSauces & Oils
Kicap PekatDark Soya SauceSauces & Oils
Kicap TiramOyster SauceSauces & Oils
Kim ChiamDried Lily BudOther
Lada HijauGreen ChilliHerbs & Spices
Lada MerahRed ChilliHerbs & Spices
Lada PutihWhite PeppercornsHerbs & Spices
LengkuasGalangalHerbs & Spices
LobakChinese Radish (Mooli)Fruit & Veg
Pati SantanThick Coconut MilkOther
RebongBamboo ShootFruit & Veg
RebungBamboo ShootFruit & Veg
SantanCoconut MilkOther
SantenCoconut MilkOther
SeraiLemongrassHerbs & Spices
TaucheoSalted SoyabeansSauces & Oils
TaugehBeansproutsFruit & Veg
Teik KeeDried Beancurd SticksOther
TerasiShrimp PasteOther
TerungAubergine (Eggplant)Fruit & Veg
TimunCucumberFruit & Veg
Ubi KentangPotatoFruit & Veg

Don’t forget that you can buy a lot of these Malaysian ingredients as well as many other authentic Asian and Oriental foods through our online shop!

See Also