They say that you can tell a lot about a country through it’s cuisine. My last trip to Malaysia proved this theory true. We flew on one of the impressive A380s with Malaysia Airlines, after all – you should start as you mean to go on – in complete and utter luxury. And the warmth, friendliness and five-star service of Malaysian hospitality (Malaysia Airlines won Skytrax’s World’s Best Cabin Staff title seven times in the last eleven years!) gave us an insight as to wonderful welcome we were to expect.
Our first stop was a place called Tamarind Springs, a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur but emmersed in jungle next to an exotic golf course. The food was as natural, relaxed, generous, colourful and delicious as the culture. In fact, my lasting memory of Malaysia is mainly one that recalls interesting textures, explosive tastes and exotic new fruits. My mind was blown by the new ways of combining flavours and spices, so much so it has influenced my own cooking forever, too.
We then travelled up to the Cameron Highlands – where tea is harvested. The land here was beautiful. Rolling hills of greenery. The climate was much cooler and and there was even a certain dampness in the air. The people we met were so welcoming and eager to tell us about how the tea leaves are picked. I had my first ever cup of Cameron Highland tea which was exquisite. So refreshing but earthy at the same time.
It wasn’t before long though that we were back in the car and travelling over to the East Coast to Kuantan. It was here that we had another gourmet experience to die for. Fresh river fish in a coconut-based broth packed full to the brim with noodles and a colourful array of vegetables, lemongrass and sprinkled with chili.
Influenced by Chinese, Indian and Malay cooking styles, the cuisine gets the best of all three worlds. And everywhere we went in Asia we were met by the same world-class level of delicious dishes.
I even discovered a completely new fruit when we travelled to the rainforest, Taman Negara, the oldest rainforest in the world, that is said to have wonderful effects on the body. Durian. Known as the King of Fruits, Durian is most renowned for it’s particularly pungent smell (so much so it is banned on public transport!). However, if you can get past that than a host of health benefits awaits; it has an extremely high content of vitamin C, aids digestion and regulates blood sugar levels.
This amazing healthy cuisine is also extended as far as Singapore. Another unsung foodie haven of the world. Very similar to that of Malaysian food, Singaporean cuisine uses a variety of fresh vegetables and is known for its noodle dishes. Many of the dishes are pretty vegan friendly but you do need to check that they have not added egg. The tofu dishes are delicious and are nothing like the shiny white cubes often found in the UK floating in various soups. Stir fries, curries and of course noodle dishes all have an array of delicious spices that not only contribute to the flavour of the dish but also to you your health (more on that below).
A trip to either of these wonderful places will have your taste buds stirring. But more than that. It will also leave you inspired to cook more confidently using delicious herbs in ingenious ways so take note of what you are eating out there as we are sure that you will want to continue the experience at home.
Malaysian Spices that Heal
Fab for abdominal cramps and aiding digestion. For a delicious dish mix with cinnamon and add to tofu and noodles.
Revs the metabolism and starves of colds and flu. This is perfect for when you have just got off a plane (or even better – when you are still on it! Add to a variety of curry dishes and for a sweet treat, chocolate too!
A fantastic anti-cancer spice, Turmeric works best when mixed with black pepper. Add to coconut based curry dishes for a super antioxidant boosting meal.
Not only will this wonderful grass repel mosquitos but it is also full of antioxidants and works well to ease bloating. I love adding it to fish soups for a fresh and slightly zingy taste.
Discover the amazing Asian cuisine for yourself – as you could be in with a chance of winning two tickets with Malaysian Airlines via the Malaysian Airlines Facebook Page: Just click here for more information and to check it out. And one more thing about Malaysia airlines before I sign off, if you are anything like me and find minimal packing more than challenging you’ll be thrilled to hear that they have recently upped their baggage allowance – economy passengers can enjoy 30kg, Business class goers – 40kg and first classers, 50kg! What’s not to love!
The best of Malaysia and Singapore:
Do: Make sure you take time out in Singapore to visit Sentosa’s Spa Botanica for a mineral mud bath.
Visit: Tamarind Springs Restaurant, just outside Kuala Lumpur – it will take you on a culinary journey of your own.
See: A trip to Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpa is not complete without a photograph of the Petronas Towers.
Try: Sunday Brunch in Singapore’s renowned Fullerton Hotel.
Taste: The freshness of Malaysia’s Cameron Highland tea is like nothing else. You have to try it to love it.
How to get there: Malaysia Airlines flies twice a day to Kuala Lumpur
So, about those two free flights…. click here for more info https://apps.facebook.com/amazingjourneyuk/
words by Sadie MacLeod
images by Lee Osborne