Monday, November 4, 2013

Take a bite of ‘Mamak’ food and culture

If you are at all familiar with Malaysia, then you must be aware that this multi-ethnic country is home to a substantial Indian-origin populace made up of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims. 

Historical records indicate that relations between Southern Indian and parts of South East Asia existed as far back as the 3rd Century BC though large- scale migration from parts of Southern India to Malaysia, gained momentum between the 15th and 19th centuries, as Indians traveled to Malaysia for trade, to work on palm oil and rubber plantations and to serve in the British colonial forces. Over the years, the Indians intermingled with the local population through marriage and began to settle down and establish roots in Malaysia.

A certain sub sect of Malaysian Indians, came to be known, as ‘Mamak’ and they were largely associated with running roadside eateries serving mouth-watering ‘Mamak’ eats. The term ‘Mamak’ in fact translates as ‘uncle’ in Tamil and is usually used by Malaysians to describe an adult Indian Muslim male.
‘Mamak stalls’ are found all over Malaysia, though today many have evolved from their humble beginnings and operate as full-fledged restaurants serving a wide array of eats.  ‘Mamak’ eateries are renowned for their laid-back vibe and are hugely popular with locals and visitors alike.

Curious to know what Mamak food is all about? Listed below are some of most popular dishes served at Malaysia’s many Mamak eateries-
Roti Canai
A plate of Roti Canai features a flaky paratha served with a spicy chicken curry sauce.

Roti Tisu
This wafer-thin conical dosa is usually anointed with a condensed milk and sugar syrup and is considered to be ‘scrumptious’.

Rojak Pasembur
This salad dish is made with shredded vegetables like cucumber and turnip combined with diced potatoes, beansprouts, boiled eggs and tofu, all of which are tossed together with sweet and spicy peanut sauce.

Nasi Kandar
Nasi Kandar features rice (nasi) served with a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian spicy curries.

Murtabak consists of a roti stuffed with fillings like eggs, mutton, sardines, beef or chicken. A lentil-based dipping sauce usually accompanies a Murtabak.

Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak is renowned as Malaysia’s favorite comfort food and features rice steamed in coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaves and served with anchovies, peanuts and a fiery sambal.

Teh Tarik
Teh Tarik, is simply the Malaysian version of the famed Southern-Indian filter coffee made with tea and condensed milk.


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