The Flavours Of Malaysian Cuisine Pop Up In Bengaluru
Image Credit: Meghana Dayanand

Malaysian cuisine is more than just the familiar laksa, satay, and nasi lemak we often hear about. It's a culinary adventure that combines influences from India, China, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo. With more people exploring the world and various cultures on their travels, there is an awareness towards the lesser-known Malay delicacies like roti canai, kari ayam, and thosai, which bear a resemblance to South Indian paratha, chicken curry, and dosas.

For those with an affinity for South Indian and East Asian flavours or a fondness for hearty and soul-warming Malaysian cuisine, exploring the Malaysian culinary showcase at Wabi Sabi in The Oberoi, Bengaluru, can be a delightful experience to savour this week. This festival is curated by Chef Nor Saiful Asrul Bin Saidin from Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, making his first visit to Bengaluru with his team. He's joined by Chef Muhammad Alif Farhan Bin Salihin and Chef Faiz Fadhli Bin Abidin from Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur. Chef Saiful mentions, "Indian cuisine is diverse and complex, but our Malaysian cooking has some familiarity, especially with South Indian coastal cuisine."

While Malaysian cuisine is often meat-centric, the pop-up lunch and dinner experience at Wabi Sabi offers a balanced menu with plenty of vegetarian options. For appetisers, you can try 'cucur sayuran kuah kacang' (crispy fried vegetable fritters with cucumber, turnip, and peanut sauce) and 'lempeng kelapa kari sayuran' (Malaysian coconut pancakes with vegetable curry). Meat lovers can savour 'roti jala kari ayam,' the famous Malaysian net pancakes with chicken curry. Also, don't miss the baked minced seafood wrapped in banana leaf with sweet chilli sauce, the Malaysian lamb satay with peanut sauce, and the nourishing young mango salad known as kerabu mangga.

Chef Saiful points out, "We had to consider vegetarian preferences while curating the menu. And we found overlaps with South Indian cuisine, like the use of coconut, spices, and tropical vegetables. However, our cooking style is distinct, not overcooking the base spices, and our coconut and coconut milk have a sweeter, thicker taste in comparison to what is available here. We also use native leaves and berries to add a unique twist to our dishes."

When asked about procuring the ingredients for this pop-up, Chef Saiful assured us, "Luckily, we found most of our ingredients locally and through Oberoi's supply chain. We only brought the ginger flower and Laksha leaves with us." The ikan asam pedas berempah, a sweet and sour fish dish with okra, and the udang masak lemak nenas madu, prawn curry with pineapple in a coconut broth, are standouts when paired with gingerflower-steamed rice or vermicelli rice noodles.

For vegetarians, the eggplant curry with pineapple is a delectable combination that's sure to please your palate. But it doesn't end there. To wrap up your meal on a sweet note, bubur pulut hitam is a delightful dessert choice. This black sticky-rice porridge is served with sago for a refreshing twist and a dollop of luxurious vanilla ice cream that beautifully complements the rich black sticky rice.

"The dishes in this culinary showcase give Bengaluru diners a true taste of Malaysian festive food that is prepared for Malaysian special occasions, marriages, and festivals, " says Chef Saiful, as he recommends trying the lamb satay with traditional peanut sauce, the young mango salad, jumbo prawn curry with ginger flower rice, lamb rendang with jala roti, and the aromatic fish with ladyfingers. It's a Malaysian culinary journey that's not to be missed. And if you would like to get a taste of it in the heart of Bengaluru, head to the Wabi Sabi at the Oberoi before the 15th of October.