Food blogger Shanthini Rajkumar revels in the variety, colour and tastes she found in Malaysia

Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, rituals, languages and cuisines. The most discerning foodies will find plenty to satisfy their palate and be spoilt for choice with the huge variety of eateries serving all kinds of dishes from Malaysia, Thailand, India, Indonesia and Japan.

Malays love their dried and pickled eats. Never before have I seen such a vast array of dried/preserved fruit and nuts. They call it ‘Kana’ and there are little shops in alleys that keep these in huge bottles. Walk into one of them and chances are, you’ll find yourself being charmed by friendly Malays, eager to have you sample their wares. From dried goji berries and lemons to spiced peanuts and candied local plums, they are yummy to eat as a snack or tossed into a salad.

Malaysian food incorporates the tangy, sweet, spicy and sour. These flavours blend together in perfect harmony to create a tongue tickling dish. While most of the spices are comfortingly familiar to the Indian taste buds, the addition of ingredients such as pandan leaves, galangal and asam keping (similar to tamarind) make it exotic. While sea food is very popular in Malaysia, vegetarian restaurants run by Buddhists are fast gaining popularity .I unfortunately did not get a chance to taste the highly recommended vegetarian food. I will return there to do just that.

Meanwhile here is a recipe for a simple egg fried rice. It is served with crunchy tofu wrapped in pandan leaves. It’s a vegetarian version of the Malaysian Nasi Goreng, with egg.

Ingredients

Diced red bell pepper- 1

Chopped red onion -1

Finely chopped celery- 2 sticks

Shredded cucumber-1

Limes-2

Chilli paste- 1 teaspoon(fresh red chillies-3 pounded with 2 cloves garlic)

Rice-cooked and cooled- 450g

Peas- 80g

Eggs- 6

Light soya sauce- 2 tbs

Spring onions chopped-2

Tomatoes chopped-2

Method

In a large frying pan or wok heat the oil. Stir-fry the onions, pepper, celery on high heat until soft. Add the chilli mix. Add soy sauce and the cooked peas. Add the beaten egg and stir fry quickly on high until you get a soft scramble. Add the cooked and cooled rice and toss through until warm. Check and adjust seasoning. Serve with the spring onion sprinkled on top. Serve the cucumbers, tomatoes and lime wedges on the side.

Crunchy tofu

Firm tofu-100g

Plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper -1/4 cup

Cut the tofu into cubes...gently toss in the seasoned flour and deep fry in hot oil.

It's not only the cuisine that captivates you, it’s also the hospitality and the warmth of the Malaysians. They are proud of their crafts and are happy to share it with the world. It was an unforgettable visit and I look forward to going back,.

Shanthini blogs at http://pink- lemon-tree.blogspot.in/