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

Malay English Category
Asam Gelugor Tamarind Peel Herbs & Spices
Asam Jawa Tamarind Paste Herbs & Spices
Ayam Chicken Meat
Barwang Besar Onion Fruit & Veg
Bawang Mera Shallots Herbs & Spices
Bawang Putih Garlic Herbs & Spices
Belacan Shrimp Paste Other
Belachan Shrimp Paste Other
Bijan Sesame Seeds Beans & Pulses
Bikji Sagu Pearl Sago Beans & Pulses
Bistik Beef-Steak Meat
Blacan Shrimp Paste Other
Blachan Shrimp Paste Other
Bok Nee Black Fungus Other
Buah Keluak Black Nut Beans & Pulses
Buah Keras Candlenut Beans & Pulses
Buah Pala Nutmeg Herbs & Spices
Buah Pelaga Cardamom Herbs & Spices
Bunga Cengkih Cloves Herbs & Spices
Bunga Lawang Star Anise Herbs & Spices
Cili Padi Bird’s Eye Chillies Herbs & Spices
Cuka Vinegar Sauces & Oils
Daun Ketumber Coriander Leaves Herbs & Spices
Daun Limau Perut Kaffir Lime Leaf Herbs & Spices
Daun Limau Purut Kaffir Lime Leaf Herbs & Spices
Duan Pandan Screwpine Leaf Herbs & Spices
Gula Melaka Palm Sugar Other
Halia Ginger Root Herbs & Spices
Ikan Fish Meat
Itik Duck Meat
Jagung Corn Fruit & Veg
Jintan Manis Fennel Herbs & Spices
Jintan Putih Cumin Herbs & Spices
Kacang Bendi Ladies Fingers (Okra) Fruit & Veg
Kacang Dal Lentils Fruit & Veg
Kacang Hijau Green Mung Beans Beans & Pulses
Kayu Manis Cinnamon Herbs & Spices
Kemiri Candlenuts Beans & Pulses
Ketam Crab Meat
Ketumbar Coriander Seeds Herbs & Spices
Kicap Cair Light Soya Sauce Sauces & Oils
Kicap Manis Sweet Soya Sauce Sauces & Oils
Kicap Pekat Dark Soya Sauce Sauces & Oils
Kicap Tiram Oyster Sauce Sauces & Oils
Kim Chiam Dried Lily Bud Other
Lada Hijau Green Chilli Herbs & Spices
Lada Merah Red Chilli Herbs & Spices
Lada Putih White Peppercorns Herbs & Spices
Lengkuas Galangal Herbs & Spices
Lobak Chinese Radish (Mooli) Fruit & Veg
Pati Santan Thick Coconut Milk Other
Rebong Bamboo Shoot Fruit & Veg
Rebung Bamboo Shoot Fruit & Veg
Santan Coconut Milk Other
Santen Coconut Milk Other
Serai Lemongrass Herbs & Spices
Taucheo Salted Soyabeans Sauces & Oils
Taugeh Beansprouts Fruit & Veg
Teik Kee Dried Beancurd Sticks Other
Terasi Shrimp Paste Other
Terung Aubergine (Eggplant) Fruit & Veg
Timun Cucumber Fruit & Veg
Ubi Kentang Potato Fruit & Veg
Udang Prawn Meat

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!

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