Make it: Seriously “sedap” Malay comfort foods

Boasting robust sweet, spicy and sour flavours, these signature dishes will have your loved ones begging for seconds.


In a world obsessed with fusion delights, it’s reassuring to see authentically-made Asian dishes holding their own. One yummy example is the culture- and flavour-rich Malay heritage cuisine.

We’ll always be game to tuck into traditional favourites such as ayam penyet (smashed chicken), sambal udang (spicy prawns) and puteri seri muka (glutinous rice with pandan jam). However, fearing that the recipes are complicated, many of us are willing to give these a try in our own kitchens.

But did you know that these dishes are pretty easy to whip up as long as you follow the directions? If you’re ready to add Malay cuisine to your cooking repertoire, here are three tasty recipes to get you started. Follow the clear instructions and in no time, heavenly smells will be wafting from your kitchen.   

Ayam Penyet [smashed chicken]

Serves 4 to 6

To serve with the dish
8 tomatoes, cut into quarters
10 slices of cucumbers 

For the rice
5cm knob ginger, peeled and finely sliced
9 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
3 chicken stock cubes
750ml water
3 pandan leaves, knotted
Vegetable oil as needed
Salt to taste
1 kg jasmine rice, rinsed and drained 

For the chicken
A whole chicken, rinsed and cut into quarters
2 tbsps coriander seeds, soaked for 10 minutes and drained before use
10 bulbs of garlic, peeled and crushed
5cm knob ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tsp ground turmeric
Salt to taste 

For the sambal
12 large red chillies
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
20g belacan [dried prawn paste]
1 tomato, diced
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste

1.      To prepare the rice, heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and sauté until lightly brown and fragrant. Add remaining ingredients, except rice, and sauté thoroughly.
2.      Transfer sautéed ingredients to a rice cooker. Add rice and cook until tender.
3.      Bring chicken to the boil in a large pot over low heat until tender. Drain.
4.      Combine coriander seeds, dried chillies, garlic, ginger and ground turmeric in a blender and process into a paste.
5.      Spoon paste on chicken and mix well. Marinate overnight or at least 1 hour. Fry chicken only when ready to serve.
6.      Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry chicken until golden. Drain well and set aside. Lightly smash fried chicken with a pestle or the back of a cleaver before serving.
7.      Prepare sambal by combining all ingredients in a blender and process into a paste.
8.      Serve rice with sambal, cucumber and cut tomatoes.